Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Forty-Six Years On – Part Two

“Here is the clock.The Trumpton clock.  Telling the time, steadily, sensibly, never too quickly, never too slowly.  Telling the time for Trumpton”

So Camberwick Green appears to have been laid waste by the advance of modern society, crushed by the homogenising of standards that took place when artisanry was removed from the picture under a welter burden of mass-produced, functionally satisfactory items.  Standards slipped, we accepted this as a society for reduced cost.  We truly became the peanut payer and we got out monkeys by return.   Has the county town of Trumptonshire suffered the same fate?  Well, let’s have a look… 

  • The Mayor, Philby and Mr Troop – The combined “staff ” at the town hall, the mayor was forever in ceremonial garb and this was a state of affairs that couldn’t last.  Successive councils ultimately abolished the role – there was talk of an elected mayor but they took one look at the buffoon in London and the county voted all but unanimously “no” to that.  The role is now filled at ceremonies by the head of the council – the chain is now a museum piece.  Philby drove the mayor’s car.  Redundant, he ultimately took to cabbing after various driving jobs.  Mr Troop the town clerk is still at the Town Hall.  He is now respectfully called “Mr Troop” rather than the peremptory “Troop” the mayor used so frequently.  The mayor, redundant, left the area.  He is believed to have retired on a ridiculous pension after seeing a couple of years out at the Cabinet Office in a sinecure arranged by an old school chum.
  • Chippy Minton – His name gave away the fact that he was the town carpenter.  His son, Nibbs, was apprentice to him.  As one of the few artisan roles that couldn’t really be undercut, Chippy has made a living over the years, both in intricate woodworking and sitework as his bread and butter.  Nibbs has taken to the family trade well and the Mintons are if not wealthy, at least confident of a stream of work that keeps the wolf a fair way away from the door. 
  • Mrs Cobbit – The flower seller who hadn’t missed a day in forty years (Sunday excepted) is a mere wrinkle in the history of the town now.  The demand for fresh-cut flowers, barring fabricated holidays, funerals and weddings, disappeared completely.  Even linking with the flower cartels that cover the entire country was not enough and shortly after achieving 50 years of not missing a day, succumbed to market forces and retired.
  • Miss Lovelace – Millinery died in the same way flower selling did only quicker again.  Miss Lovelace changed her business over to a genteel tea room and made a living out of that until the coffee revolution came along and, in a cutthroat market, removed her completely from the fray.  She still keeps Pekingese dogs, her window to the outside world.  She doesn’t see as many people as before on her travels but at least she has some contact.
  • Mr Munnings – One of the great artisan trades for five hundred years that had its Armageddon in the 1980s, Mr Munnings was also a victim of the government assault on the print industry.  The advent of desktop publishing saw the demise of typesetting, photogravure and other aspects of the hot metal and plate-based shop.  Mr Munnings sold up, left the area and his present whereabouts are unknown.  His shop is now a tanning salon.
  • Mr Platt – Again, a man whose trade suffered for the advent of the digital age, Mr Platt did, however, manage to survive some lean times where others did not.  A clockmaker by trade, his work diminished in the face of digital timepieces but he maintained a living out of batteries, analogue repairs and the occasional curiosity piece.  A revival in the fortunes of the quality timepiece along with some horse trading in antiques kept Mr Platt afloat.  But then his work was also his hobby
  • Mr Clamp – Mr Clamp, the greengrocer, went the way of the grocer.  The latter is now known only by approximation in the entity that is known as the general store/corner shop and even then that image doesn’t quite sit right.  The greengrocer, despite his local, fresh, high quality produce, lasted longer but also went to the wall in the face of cheap, vacuum-sealed, all-year-round global produce that because of preserving measures outlasted local produce and became cheaper.   Mr Clamp runs a stall twice a week at a local market but is for all intents and purposes out of the trade. His shop became a betting shop and after that traded up to bigger premises, a letting agent.
  • Mr Craddock – The park keeper, he has spent a career dodging removal from his job.  Council services were deregulated but he survived the cull.  Some of the land was sold off, he hung on again.  Redundancy and further reductions in service mean that he is one of the lucky ones – he is in a small, overworked team whose budget will be cut again next year and his job, finally, looks as if it will be going.  He’ll now retire on a pension that is far too small for the years he put in and yet people will abuse him for his loyalty and efforts over time.
  • Fire Brigade – Cuthbert has gone, BarneyMcGrew took a package during the last round of voluntary redundancy and the twins are entirely disillusioned with the job.  Dibble is off long-term sick after a serious injury that has been clearly attributed to understaffing and undermanning and Grubb is holding on because the service is his life.   The station is continuing in the face of a closures campaign even though it puts Trumpton’s safety under dire threat.  Captain Flack remains, but he has never seen morale so low.
  • Mr Wantage and his assistant Fred – Telephone engineer and engineer’s mate, they have gone from the GPO to BT, from BT to O2, never leaving the job but being subject to the misery of increased privatisation that would be so much worse but for their stalwart defence of position by the efforts of the CWU.  The days of the local exchanges might be gone and the personal touch as well as they work for an international behemoth, but they will at least get to retire in comfort.  Small comfort.
  • Nick Fisher, Mr Robinson, Walter Harkin – A bill poster, a window cleaner and a painter and decorator respectively, all three were tangential characters and managed to tick over through the years by the very nature of their specialist skills.  Sole traders all, they would probably be looked upon as somewhere between self-employed and franchisees. Work ebbed and flowed but never dried up; Nick indeed has never been so busy as advertising became one of the genuine growth industries over the interceding years.  And everyone has windows and walls..
  • Antonio – Ice cream man.  Survived various turf wars and thrived as increased population meant that his round expanded without becoming geographically larger.  Sales of crisps, drinks and sweets effectively door-to-door helped too.  Frequently racially abused despite his English roots and accent because his name isn’t “effnickly” British.
  • Raggy Dan – Disappeared years back when the local council arranged individual homeowners to recycle their rubbish for free.  When the council finally latched on to the adage “where there’s muck, there’s brass”, the totter’s number was up.  Current whereabouts unknown.
  • Constable Potter – Redundant.  Job ceased to exist through cuts and the amalgamation of the two stations in Trumpton and Camberwick Green.  PC McGarry already retained a role at the reduced station at Camberwick Green.  Potter ended up in private security on a fraction of the wage at yet another out-of-town supermarket.  Former station is now a wine bar

So that’s Trumpton.  Once again the concertinaing of services and the acceptance of  “good enough” over “excellent” shows an overall decline in fortunes but as a small glimmer of hope, at least some of the individual semi-skilled/skilled workers made good for themselves, even if the community appears to have suffered a structural collapse not unlike Camberwick Green.  Let’s not forget that in the interceding period, Trumpton suffered the most awful riots, documented here.  Even in the most idyllic setting, social deprivation can lead to discontent and unrest.

Next – Chigley


Forty-Six Years On… Part One

Here is a box, a musical box, wound up and ready to play. But this box can hide a secret inside. Can you guess what is in it today?

In 1966, Gordon Murray created a stop-start motion series that it is said ostensibly mirrored the triangle of towns in East Sussex that are Wivelsfield Green, Plumpton and Chailey.  It entered the national psyche as something that the nation’s children would grow up alongside.  Those children are now in their forties or (yes) fifties.  The voice of the Trumptonshire Trilogy, Brian Cant, legendary much-loved children’s presenter, is now in his eightieth year.  We all age.

The characters in the series, however, never did. Gordon Murray (a nonagenarian now) destroyed the puppets from Camberwick Green (1966), Trumpton (1967) and Chigley (1969) in the 1980s as they were not built to last and were  in an increasing state of disrepair.  The shows remain but in an appalling lack of wisdom by the BBC, the masters were lost.  They were recovered after prompting by the animator and his son-in-law and remastered in 2012.  Are they important?  Well, if I typed the two words “Pugh, Pugh…” the odds are that the reader will have recited the next four names before they finished this sentence and will be now grinning at what they just did.  They were much loved and they will be again.

So the shows are remastered and have a new lease of life in the twenty-first century.  Would the characters be in the same position?  They hark back to the age of Wilson’s first government, filmed in colour when colour was not yet a broadcast option and television ran to two channels and for a part of the day only.  Would they still have the same stories to tell today?  Let’s see…

Camberwick Green started the ball rolling

  • Mickey Murphy – Mickey was an artisan baker.  The days of the independent baker were sadly numbered by the 1980s with the increased demand for pre-sliced bread in polythene that lasted a week and Mickey’s lot was no different.  He left his specialist skills behind (although he still bakes authentically for pleasure) to man an oven at an out-of-town supermarket, finishing off no end of part-baked loaves delivered by truck.
  • Windy Miller – Windy if anything was more anachronistic that Mickey.  He owns a windmill and the demand for the grains he formerly ground for specialist flour dried up through cheap imports and lack of demand for quality over cost.  He converted the mill to wind power and now faces the opposition of any number of small-minded idiots who now suddenly have decided that his ancient self-powered home is in fact an eyesore.
  • Jonathan Bell – Farmer.  Barely surviving as through intensive increases in milk yield over time, he now has to produce more than twice the milk as forty years ago to just stand still in the face of the handful of large milk companies that took hold of the deregulated market on the demise of the Milk Marketing Board in the 1990s.  Considering turning his land to tourism over farming.
  • PC McGarry – The local bobby on the beat, affectionately know by his number (“number 452”) no longer has a beat in Camberwick Green.  His station is now manned on Tuesday and Thursday only (11am – 3pm) with a telephone access to leave a message outside those hours.  Successive governments have devalued his work and he hopes to retire while he still has a pension for which it would be worth retiring.
  • Mr Carraway – A fishmonger in a country that no longer values fresh fish.  Mr Carraway’s business was in steep decline from the mid ’70s onwards and he sold his shop to sell from a van.  This stayed the execution for quite a while – there was enough business to take the fish to the people and he thrived in relative terms.  Sadly, the decline continued and he sold up completely.  Works part-time on a supermarket fish counter (see Mickey Murphy) that ironically imitates his old shop layout.
  • Peter – A postman, he found his round and working practices under attack time and again.  The GPO has changed name (or “brand”) on several occasions but ultimately he still delivers letters and he is still a postman.  Lives in perennial fear of privatisation and intends to retire within the next twelve months or so before the organisation is sold off from under him.
  • Mr Crockett – Owned the garage.  However, the car maintenance business dropped off as cars became more mechanically sound over time.  Although MOT certification kept him working, alone it was not enough to sustain him.  Sadly, selling petrol tailed off as he was priced out of the trade by high volume, low profit supermarket chains.  Works part-time from home in semi-retirement.  Garage site sold to fast food chain.
  • Doctor Mopp – Left medicine the minute the idiotic hand of government told him to become an administrator rather than tending to and treating sick people.  Sold his practice and retired on the proceeds.  Misses the patients, does not miss the interference of authority.  Not a fan of Andrew Lansley nor of his successor.  Recently seen at several anti-privatisation protests.
  • Thomas Tripp – The milkman, his role has changed somewhat over time.  No longer a sole trader, his round was bought by one of the large milk concerns after deregulation when he would have been forced out through competition. Retains his old round but his round and range of products has expanded while his orders are more likely to be submitted online.  Few nowadays know him by name.
  • Roger Varley – A chimney sweep.  Central heating obviously saw his work tail off over the years.  Retained his motorbike and sidecar which serve him well as a delivery man of various stripes, as well as retaining his chimney sweep paraphernalia for use on demand as the traditional symbol of luck for church weddings in the area.
  • Mr Dagenham – A salesman, the only real change in his business was the advent of mail order, allowing him less time on the road and more in managing orders.  Transnational internet-based behemoths ate into his business to the extent that he was muscled out of the “sales on demand” game and has returned to personal representations.  He is back selling on the road. 
  • Captain Snort and Sergeant Major Grout – The stalwarts at Pippin Fort saw their regiment dissolved as it was merged with another regiment in the area.  It is now a field hospital rather than a training centre for cadets and now is home to any number of military and medical uses.  The historic red uniforms have been discarded for modern-day fatigues.
  • Mrs Honeyman – The chemist’s wife and local gossip, she works part-time and blames immigrants, benefit scroungers and people faking disability for her needing to work despite Camberwick Green having full employment, a 100% White British community make-up and anyone there who actually has a disability is working.  At least some things never change…

The fabric of Middle England appears to have been sacrificed on the altars of big business, standardised mediocrity and the acceptance of convenience over personal touch.  Or am I being cynical.  If only there were more examples I could review…

Next – Trumpton


In another lifetime it could have been me.  I’d spent the years 83-86 at Anfield every game bar two (two League Cup ties where I failed to get a ticket for one – yes, an all-ticket League Cup tie – and was returning from Newcastle on the evening of the other and couldn’t be in two places at once).  We would stand at crossbar height behind the goal, there were three of us minimum as a rule, none of us older than 19 by 1986.

Heysel in ’85 took a lot out of many.  No-one should go to a game of football and not return.  ’86 was a momentous season in the history of Liverpool Football Club, a “double” year no less, and yet I was there almost on sufferance – later that year I would be going to university, people had died at a ground in the name of football, even the price had hit £3 (yes, £3) a game and was becoming excessive.  I had a chance to make a clean break and took it. 

I’ve been to five games since 1986 – one where I was taken as a birthday gift in the early/mid 90s, one where luck met opportunity and I went to the Stade De France to see France play Algeria while in Paris for a horse race, two games where I took my son to see Everton last season and one to watch Everton Ladies as a whole family at Marine FC in the summer just past.  With the exception of the international game, none were, strictly speaking, “for me”.  The game holds no real attraction for me any more.

In another lifetime, though, I didn’t go to university.  I stayed home, went on, kept turning out every other week and expanded into away games.  I’d been to a cup semi-final in ’85, an away game at York in the same cup run, I was getting older, wiser, would be independently earning and with that who knows?

That’s not the point, though.  We all have alternate timelines like that – if Manchester United had beaten Nottingham Forest in the sixth round, the semi would have more than likely have gone to Maine Road instead and Hillsborough would have been waiting to waylay another game – there had been incidents at semi-finals in 1981, 1987 and even 1988, an exact repeat fixture of that of 1989.  Hillsborough was a disaster in the making and not the FA, not the police, not Sheffield Wednesday football club would do anything about it.  And that is the point.

In another lifetime, it could have been me.  But for anyone reading this who has ever been to a game, in another lifetime, it could also have been you.  You’ve seen now that it wasn’t the club, it wasn’t the people from a certain city, their behaviour or any other such factor.

It was this country and the people running it.

Never ever be sold the lie of heritage, history, culture or any other such guff for as long as you live – this country is run by people who have nothing but disdain for you.  They will lie, smear, distort, cheat, suppress, broker deals behind closed doors and bundle the lot up and push it out through tame media.  In the 23 years subsequent to Hillsborough, you can only imagine how despised Lord Justice Taylor has become in those circles where we aren’t allowed for not singing from the same songsheet as coroners, public prosecutors, senior police, lower level but career-minded police, Boris Johnson, Kelvin MacKenzie and every other history rewriter who up until last month did their bit to prevent the truth of their incompetence and their desire to self-exonerate at the expense of maligning the paupers they lord over.

You’re fodder to them.  And fodder isn’t supposed to talk.  It’s almost a century ago that the youth of this nation would be sent to war and would die senselessly in huge numbers at Passchendaele, Ypres, the Somme.  If that’s the culture and heritage they wish to preserve – sending youth to a pointless death – then they can stuff this country and let someone else have a go because we deserve better.  Society has technological advances of unreal proportions to fall back on since 1989, let alone World War I.  How come the supposed “leadership” of this country is the same inhumane overprivileged imbeciles of the time of the self-deluding Empire then?

It could have been me a century ago as well.  It could have been any of us.

“Statistically Improbable”

This is short one.

Statistics rarely throw up an “impossible”.  You merely have an “extremely improbable”.

Now, consider this.  There are four high profile disability campaigner/bloggers who I follow on the web.  Three use wheelchairs, one campaigns essentially through their family circumstances.  This oversimplifies the matter and for that I apologise but it is sufficient for them to be able to identify themselves.  Their work is exemplary, an education to read and digest and not only a source of wisdom, but of wit also.

Now, in the last month or so, be it the Paralympic honeymoon period that non-disabled people had or the increased effects of substantial campaigning on disability-related issues, but these four campaigners suddenly have the stage, front and centre and are more publicly showing themselves to be a thorn in the powers-that-be’s side.  Dispatches, even the increasingly Squealer BBC to the Napoleon of government put out a Panorama that didn’t do the Eton Mess of government too many favours.  The tide of anti-disability sentiment is suddenly spotlighted and it’s making for uncomfortable feelings in rarified circles.  And the pressure continues.

And then suddenly, all four find themselves under attack on blogs, Twitter, they find themselves being stalked, reviled, abused and their young family even been thrown into the mix.

Statistically, this is extremely improbable.  Nuisance to government and increased personal attacks.  There appears to be a correlation.  It isn’t “impossible”, statistically it cannot be,of course.  Merely “extremely improbable”. 

I don’t believe in conspiracy and I don’t believe in coincidence.  I do believe there’s a smear afoot.  Draw your own conclusions, I’m reconciled with mine.

Cameron’s Leveson Floor Show plan – not for circulation

10.30 Couple of one-liners, make a pun or two at the expense of aspiring backbench (backMensch? LotsOfLove) toadies. Warm up, ask the crowd where they’re from, hope it wasn’t somewhere where I destroyed SureStart or Remploy

11.00 Sing “I Will Survive”. Solo, A capella, ensure Mrs Cameron (my stage name for Sammy) is nearby in case change mind and want to do it accompanied by karaoke track loaded on to MP3 and docking unit.  I’m hip, me

11.15 Answer a question or two, respond to one or two with comedy Jamaican accent, mon.  Bound to get a laugh, especially if there are a few colonials in the crowd.

11.30  Check I haven’t gone bright purple as I do when rattled or lying or rattled, lying.  Try and deflect if I do – pretend I am a Geordie holidaymaker or something – why aye’ll have a bagga chips.  Mon.  That’s right, isn’t it?

11.45  Pretend chair is a wheelchair and have everyone laughing at my comic interpretations about how all those in wheelchairs can walk perfectly well, they’re just putting it on.  My Lazarus act, I call it.  I plan to put it to a wider audience at the opening of the Paralympics.  Successfully deflect from asking how many times I’ve seen Sideshow Bob nude

12.00  Chas and Bex to come in and sing “I Got You Babe” to each other, professing their love and making people think we don’t go in for fourway bondage.  Remember to sing it under my breath only and not put on those authentic slacks previously owned by Sonny Bono that I bought off eBay.  Must remember to tell B to not bring the Cher wig.  We are in this together.

After lunch

I’ll have had a grog or two so I’ll just do a few accents, lighten the atmosphere.  Likelies – Australian, Spanish (qué?), French shoulder shrugging, Eastern European, grubby northern accents from that high up county, what is it, Scott Land?  Save the German accent for when I meet Angela next – I haven’t borrowed the uniform from Aiden Burley yet.

Song list for the afternoon

Would I Lie To You? – Charles and Eddie

Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

The Last Waltz – Engelbert Humperdinck

Hang on, who put the last one in?  Doesn’t matter, they all love me and if they don’t, I’ll just make fun of their accents and their paper clothes and their health problems and that they’re poor… and

Goodnight Britain, there’s no more time!  I’ve got a supper appointment!

Related Contingencies

Those of you unaware what a related contingency is, stay with me.  This isn’t a sports/betting matter but you’ll see why it comes up.

England to win 1-0 – 9/1

Rooney to score the first goal – 9/1

Ignore the prices, basically if either lands, you return ten for your one.  However, what if you wanted to bet on England to win 1-0 with Rooney the scorer?  Well, you just multiply out the 10 by the ten and get…

Stop there.  At this point you have related contingencies.  For England to win 1-0, there is a factor that only one team will score, for example.  Rooney’s odds will include the impact of anyone on the pitch, including the opposition, being able to score.

The opposition can’t score if they’re “nil”.  You have to discount them in your two-event selection.  That’s a reduction on the grounds that the one event has a clear impact on the other.  That is what is termed, in betting parlance, as a related contingency.

Now, here’s seven factors.

a) no parent in work
b) poor quality housing,
c) no parent with qualifications,
d) mother with mental health problems
e) one parent with longstanding disability/illness
f) family has low income,
g) Family cannot afford some food/clothing items

D and E have huge scope for related contingency.  You can tie A, F and G together as a related contingency.  Given the disparity in UK society, there’s clear scope to tie all five together in a cycle of self-perpetuation that government seeks to address by making worse, not better.  Having not yet mentioned B and C, even then you can see the clear crossover in them and the five factors already listed that can be attributed on many occasions to the mistreatment of the sick, the disabled and the poor.

“The sick, the disabled and the poor” is of course dehumanising those three swathes of humanity into an amorphous one-word blob, language used to marginalise, depersonalise and ultimately, demonise.  However, in terms of efficiency, “The sick, the disabled and the poor” should be noted that society will use three words when that set of terms will frequently be one person.

Another related contingency.

Why this seven terms?  Well, if you have five, you’re one of Cameron’s “neighbours from hell”.  Yes, he said “the media” will say that but since the government is very publicly telling the media what to say, from the plinth in Downing Street to the clear suppression of news items on the NHS or on WorkFare slavery by the BBC, media and government are now one and the same.

Another related contingency.

Cameron’s edict is that the country is in the thrall of these offensively sick, disabled paupers.  Those who are too ill to work are apparently the criminal masterminds of the UK?  No, clearly not.  Cameron doesn’t believe that but this government has realised there is a massive lobby of disadvantaged people in this country and the sterling work of certain high-profile campaigners is waking this sleeping giant.  The physical confines of the home, the historical “cupboard under the stairs” has been reduced by the virtual world.  Conservatism now approaches fascism as it seeks where possible to limit elements such as social networks.  Liberty is fine as long as you don’t practise it.

I’d be worried were I government.  The voice of disadvantaged people who previously couldn’t be heard is now front, centre and asking questions.  It isn’t beholden to party politics, it isn’t going to go away and if you try to move it invariably the horror story will be revisited in a press that despite being tame, can’t avoid a groundswell of 12 million disabled people asking questions about one of their own.

It isn’t a fight they can win because they can’t fight dirty.  The blog posts in response to Cameron’s dirty bomb already show that.  And they’ll happen every time he tries to peddle his abominable agenda.

Because that’s a related contingency.

Spot The Difference

Paul Chambers and Jeremy Clarkson.  What’s the difference?

I’m going to guess “the unrelenting privilege of wealth”.  Here’s where we are.

Clarkson, with his Panini ’82 perm and his obnoxious racist twisted mug (he won’t be wintering in Cancún, kids), said this:

“I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.”

He was talking about a couple of million public sector workers who, on 30 November 2011, said “enough” and took unified industrial action on a scale never before seen in this country.  Personally, he can try.  Bring a gun, I’ll get my kids and we’ll see how we go.  You’d best have an awful lot of bullets, though, because there will be two million behind me and I reckon they’d see you die screaming for that murder you’re espousing.  And if you don’t kill me quickly I’ll be at the front of that queue for what you tried to do to before my kids.

Extreme?  Beyond the pale?  Well, it depends.  You see, Clarkson’s abuse was written off as a joke (despite the man having less laughter about him than Shakespeare) and Ofcom accepted it.  They had 736 complaints. 

The BBC, that second-to-last bastion of Oxbridge privilege, received 31,000 complaints.  That’s enough people behind it to give solid support and revenue to a Premier League football team.  The BBC failed to take any action against him save for arranging an apology that the imbecile will never mean. 

The Prime Minister took one look at his bank balance, saw how he voted, rang the newsdesk at the BBC, spoke to the Oxbridge editor and came up with the word “silly” to describe him.  That last sentence may not be true, but frankly, given Clarkson can issue death threats at will but not mean it, what is truth?

“But you’re over-reacting, it was a jape, a gag, he doesn’t really hate those people who allow him to fart around daily in a non-job on an obscene salary” I hear you say?  No.  I’m not.  See Paul Chambers.

Paul Chambers was the man who found himself subject of the TwitterJoke trial.  He lost his job after a prosecution because of a tweet he made when he was about to fly to see his new girlfriend in Northern Ireland and Robin Hood airport in the Midlands was closed because of snow. 

On Twitter, he has an audience of 690 followers – Clarkson, although on the failure that is The One Show, had considerable more viewing his assault on British family life.  Chambers tweeted the following – “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

One week later he was arrested by five police officers.  He was questioned for eight hours.  His computers and telephones were seized and in a conclusion worthy of Keystone, was charged and convicted of causing a menace under the Communications Act 2003.  He sent the tweet in January 2010 while the country was snow- and ice-bound.  He was convicted in May 2010, 18 months before Clarkson went for his rifle.  His clear incitement to terrorism meant that he was… fined £385.  Meanwhile, of the 4,000 twitterers who when they heard, retweeted his message and as such, published it themselves, not a one suffered arrest or sanction.  Serious stuff, obviously.  That’ll hit terrorism where it hurts – a week’s wages (according to the national average, not John Terry’s stack).

Even the law didn’t take this conviction seriously.  Common sense decreed he should appeal – all that time and effort wasted on 5 of the police force, 8 hours of questions and however much they went into when they investigated his PC and phones for a fine that wouldn’t buy you a decent TVNot content with the absurdity of the case so far, the court of appeal upheld the conviction.  No, really, they weren’t content with the law looking the ass it was already.  They wanted more.

And so having had Doncaster Magistrates’ and Doncaster Crown Courts have a play, it went to the High Court in February 2012, two years after the incident.  And judgement was reserved.  Clarkson walks free and uncharged, while Paul Chambers continues to wait for exoneration.

The difference?  BBC, government and the filthy stink of the overpaid, undertalented, untouchable celebrity gets one case laughed off.  Paul Chambers had none of that backing. 

No coincidence.

Control The Language, Control The People

I have a languages background.  One of the intriguing points that comes out of that is how language is used as a tool of suppression and suggestion, often to induce opinions.

“That’s not me” you say, but the odds are you’ll be wrong.  As an example, all who have used the phrase “the taxpayer” at all in recent months in particular, check out now.  The shadowy “taxpayer” is a paragon of virtue, a source of social inspiration on whom we all rely, to the point that if something is perceived as slightly ignoble, well, it’s a waste of “taxpayer’s money”.  And you swallow it, hook, line and sinker, despite it being the rallying cry of an increasingly dark government.

“Oh, government” you say, rolling your eyes at me because you fancy I’m going to go cabinet-bashing against those socially responsible millionaires in the hotseats doing a wonderful job for “the taxpayer”.  Well, no.  Suppression and misdirection of language goes back forever – the Spanish Inquisition burned books, French postal authorities would not deliver to an address in Breton, Franco suppressed Catalan, Basque, Gallego under pain of sanction and imprisonment.  There’s many other occasions but ultimately, since the Inquisition was not repealed until the 1830s, these are not going back to the days of the Dark Ages – this is a consistent modern history.

Well, you can judge a government by the language it uses.  “The taxpayer” we’ve already covered, but you can all but play “blackshirt bingo” with successive governments.  Here’s a few examples

  • “Affordable” – this is an almost mythical get-out for any claim on anything that incurs cost.  “Pensions need to be affordable” is the cry.  That they arealready affordable is not addressed because their response will state that
  • “Comparable with the private sector” – is cited as a benchmark.  Public sector pensions are of course an element of pay and plundering pensions is little more than a pay cut you didn’t have the balls to do on salary.  That and the pension in the already-affordable format is so unattractive to privatisation as although affordable, a private company will want to tear into that.  Maxwell, anyone?
  • “Choice”.  Choice in the market place might be sold to you as a positive idea but is it?  I don’t want choice in my health provider, I want treatment from someone who will look after me and try to make me well.  Any private provider has the vested interest of keeping me well enough not to die but sick enough to generate revenue.  That’s what “choice” means in healthcare – the government turns you into a tradable commodity while selling Nye Bevan down the river.
  • “Growth”.  No-one in government has ever explained the principles of “growth”.  The reason is because no-one knows what it actually means.  It’s a vague number that has even vaguer implications and will not impact on your buying milk for breakfast.  Very important in telling you that everything is peachy, even when it isn’t.
  • “Revision”.  Means “increase”.  Fares and fees, charges and tariffs have not been increased in thirty years but they are “revised” twice a year minimum.  And they never go down.
  • “Reform.”  The antithesis of “revision”.  Reform will involve job cuts, reduced funding or worse conditions for users and providers alike.  Reform’s ultimate goal is one single unit of industry providing everything (whether it be a machine or a human machine) for an increasing board of directors and shareholders while surviving on recycled air.

There is one that falls out of the frame.  That is “scrounger”.  The reason “scrounger” fails is because a scrounger is deemed to be someone who provides nothing, who merely takes without putting in any effort in creation of items or wealth.  The trouble with that definition, however, is that it is entirely interchangeable with “shareholder”.

The recent “argument” that has begun to surface is that “1% are providing 28% of the country’s tax” and they should somehow get thanks or relief for that.  This taxation is somehow seen as a blight on the 1%. 

The clear implication from that to me is that if in excess of one quarter of the nation’s tax is produced by one hundredth of the population, then there is a clear problem with salary and distribution of wealth.  I will quite happily see that reduced if it means that the telephone number salaries that allow such a taxation disparity are suitably addressed.  You don’t see that argument, though.  You get told “we’re earning to keep you, you ingrates, we should be allowed to keep more of our filthy lucre”.

The control of the people in presenting this anti-majority rhetoric then produces a remarkable example of brass neck.  The amazing “we’re all in this together” is used to strip every penny and more from those who need it the most.  Under the yoke of the words “contribution”, “equality” and “taxation”, “benefit” as if it is owned by someone else rather than it being an “allowance” to which your circumstances entitle you, the poor get the unrelenting privilege of becoming poorer out of some sort of sense of community.

The same sense of community allows MPs to make up their own salaries, run up expenses for their job in the way that you and I cannot and also court and be courted by business interests whose concern, when everyone else has to contribute more, suffer pay freezes and lose out through loss of tax credits, cuts in entitlement and increased pension payments, is in arranging a 10% tax cut.

We pay more, they pay less.  How does that work?  Well, it will stimulate growth (see above) and increase jobs, production, demand… 

No, what you are saying is it will stimulate profit for investment which you may then choose to invest.  Really?  Sorry in the face of the language, then, that I don’t trust you.  I’m not interested in your profit.  Your own arguments show your profit is “the taxpayer’s” expenditure and as such all profits should go to “the taxpayer”.  In those terms, I would retain current levels and demand you invest your profit now – or we’ll increase your taxation level. 

It surely follows that if tax breaks increase profits through investment, then it is investment that creates profits.  Invest now, therefore, from existing profit.  You’re a private concern, raise your funds privately.  Speculate to accumulate, as the saying goes.  Don’t try and take my country’s taxation to offset yours and stop thieving from the “scrounger” to pay the shareholder.

That’s such an appalling attempt at robbing the poor to line the wealthy coffers with silk that you’d have to subvert the language, subvert the people to try and wear it.

You end up believing your own propaganda while the great unwashed don’t and for some reason you all look surprised when people riot and loot.

Workfare – The Bite Back

Responsibility is an ugly word in the UK.

Having been one of many who rose up to question Tesco’s stance on Workfare in the UK after it published an advertisement in Bury St Edmunds for people to work for expenses alone (more on that later in the week), that pressure has caused Tesco to backtrack from the same.  It is early yet, but the reality of what that step down means will be more evident in ensuing weeks.  What can I say, I’m sceptical when the retail giant that apparently takes every sixth pound spent on the High Street tells me anything after several days of denial.  It didn’t become wealthy by not telling the people what they wanted to hear.

However, Christopher Grayling and Ian Duncan Smith, two “men” in place to represent us all in government, have seen fit from this to go out of their way and insult me!  How rude!  Grayling, the orchestrator of this grand plan of multifaceted slavery across the UK, has called me “absurd”.  He has also accused me of “having an agenda” in attacking Workfare.

I will come out and say it now.  I have an agenda in attacking Workfare.  I oppose slavery.  Ian Duncan Smith, because of my opposition to slavery, considers me a “job snob”.

Now, if we were getting personal and telling lies about each other, it could get ugly.  I’m not going to do that – I am more comfortable with the truth.  You see, the problem with living in a parliamentary bubble with other fat-necked, self-aggrandising, kickback-taking MPs is that when you meet opposition from real people you don’t know how to behave.

Here’s an example – the biggest waste of parliamentary time we have is Prime Minister’s Questions.  Every Wednesday, all manner of braying Oxbrigians trade insults with other Oxbrigians to absolutely no value to the public they represent.  I caught David Cameron in a direct lie in Prime Ministers Questions last year and the response was “he won’t correct it because it isn’t the done thing”.  No, really, that’s the rationale.  He can talk about goldfish on Mars and how he can summon angels to Cabinet meetings and we just have to wear it.  It doesn’t have to be true because he’s the Prime Minister and he can say what he likes, no need for responsibility or accountability.  A complete waste of time and resources.

However, because of this 650-member private club attitude, we have a siege mentality where the MPs are totally divorced from reality.  It’s the Norma Desmond mentality of my prior post.

I am happy to expand on and show responsibility for my position.  Here’s my “agenda”, Grayling; In 1945 this country came out of war, a ravaged Europe needed rebuilding, ourselves included, and the immediate future promised to be hard.  Rationing was more extensive after the war than during as the world rebuilt, for example.  The first General Election after the war was fought on two differing platforms.  Churchill considered the British public as a body who would recognise his efforts over the previous six years and campaigned on personality.  Attlee said “here’s the policies that will achieve our recovery”, campaigning on social reform.

The 1945 General Election ended in the celebrated “Attlee Landslide”.  Attlee had promised to rebuild and the country listened.  Labour (as it was then) had its first absolute majority and by some way.  Attlee himself was a quiet figure but nevertheless set about the rebuild.  He nationalised industries and utilities, making them profitable but also safer, better regulated and with improved conditions for workers.  He maintained a programme of almost full employment and kept inflation low.  He also took two ministries – housing and health – and gave them to one man.

Aneurin Bevan was given the agenda of building houses and creating a health service that would be national, free at the point of contact and would preserve the right of care from cradle to grave of every citizen according to need and  irrespective of wealth.

Clement Attlee had an “agenda”.  Nye Bevan had an “agenda”.  To go further, Mohindas Karamchand Gandhi had an “agenda”.  Having an “agenda” is not a bad thing judging by the examples.  I would sooner have the agenda of fair treatment for all than imposing my will on an opposing public like some sort of social rapist.  That’s what you are, Mr Grayling – whether it be in your attempts to drive slaves or to tear up the workplace safeguards that were put in by the Attlee government (yes, the Factories Act of 1948 for starters – again, another).  You will see people enslaved or die to fit your “agenda” and will impose that in the face of no end of people saying “no, no, NO!”.

Well, your agenda is little more than one of several elements of a resurgent Fascism (I never thought I would say that in my lifetime) in this country.  You represent a government cabal of millionaires attacking those in society who need the most support.  Ian Duncan Smith went as far as telling us that work makes you free.  That’s an aspiration my grandfather and his many brothers fought against and won in the late 30s and early 40s.  Yes, my grandfather had “an agenda”.

The “bite back” in the title is, however, that the “agenda” remark means nothing.  It isn’t justified, explained or based on any other grounds than the petty prejudices of the speaker.  If he wants to debate it, fine, but if he’s going to just run to the press and call me names because he has the ear of a tame publicist, then he’s little more than a modern-day Goebbels.  He won’t debate it, though, because it will mean he will have  to stand by his remarks and it is clear that such a move is a level of responsibility that does not sit well with this current government.  The PM can get away with groundless remarks at PMQs – why should it be any different for his underlings?

Clement Attlee’s time to shine came of course after the demise of Goebbels.  We can but hope.

The Twists And Turns Of The Daily Mail

Mail Bashing is of course the preserve of every right minded citizen in the UK.  I had the misfortune to see the front page today (I’m with Nye Bevan on newspapers) while I was buying scones and cheese.  Not really relevant but there is more fact and research in that sentence than required for a job at a national rag. 

With the Mail, first you get the untrammelled nonsense, followed by the comments from Mad Dog John in Melbourne who left the UK because Wilson got in – again – and who seems to think he knows what’s best for us after nearly forty years of living it, Buster Edwards style, 12,000 miles away.

Yesterday, they bucked the trend.  Sonia Poulton wrote this article

and came out to tell the current shower that are in the position of “government” that they are little short of evil slavers.  It is unfair to say that “even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again” about the author without at least further research, but it is entirely fair to say it about the paper.  It’s vile and for it to indicate that its source of main support is vile, well, that’s a whole new shade of vile.

Sadly, the world is supposed to work on balance.  The Korean flag addresses it, Newtonian laws cover it, even Locard’s Exchange Principle touches on it after a fashion.

Edmond Locard was a forensic scientist and effectively stated that everywhere you go, you take something with you, and you leave something behind.  Adapting that to the Mail, you get the good elements from the excellent article left behind and somewhere further along the line you’ll pick up the poorly-written nonsense. 

One day, it took.–taxpayers-foot-bill.html  The Taxpayer’s Anschluss were right in on it but given the imbecility of that unrepresentative organisation, it’s clear they’d never consider researching if any of the preposterous claims were in fact true.  Philip Davies MP, the disability hater, also pitched in, forgetting that he is, of course, a civil servant and parliament is the biggest gravy train of the all.

Let’s dissect the claims.

Now, I’ve known an awful lot of civil servants across an awful lot of departments and I’ve been one myself.  Compensation for lost or damaged property is a preposterous claim and in two decades in and around civil servants, I’ve never heard such nonsense.  This is borne out by the clothing farrago.

Replacing tights would assume the wearing of tights in the first instance.  Already we’re into fractions and those fractions don’t get preferential treatment over the majority.  Regarding replacing and recompensing any clothing, apart from having seen managers in the same clothes on rotation for over four years, how does that work for uniformed prison officers, police, border staff in uniform, indeed ANYONE in uniform?  It is hard to decide which is the more spectacularly dense; the claim, or; the simple fundamental principle of failing to think for more than four seconds and see that someone is having you, The Daily Mail and the Taxpayer’s Anschluss, for a patsy.

“Taxi for family to pick up an honour if the recipient has died”.  What?  Someone who dies in service (low percentage indeed) who does so after winning an honour [we all have honours, of course] but before the award (really?  In 500,000 civil servants, I doubt this has ever happened) is even more preposterous than the uniforms the employer provides being a source of income.  If I were reporting this, I’d be ashamed.  Next up…

Pensions?  A sustainable element of pay agreed through negotiation with successive governments?  Really?  I can see the only source of objection being because of the prospect of upcoming strikes (late March, kids, get ready) and that Francis Maude is cacking himself.  Again.

Partial retirement, part year working and flexitime, meanwhile actually save “the mythical  taxpayer”.  The first cuts salary and actuarially reduces pension payments, the second is a means of filling a department only when needed and the third is an element of statutory law that can be and is used for worklife balance.  It actually makes people more productive.  Do the research, it’s true, go on, I’ll be here when you get back.

Home workers, meanwhile, aren’t the “500,000 civil servants” cited because like it or not, you can’t lock down prisoners, police the streets or act as an MOD clerk in a war zone “from home”.  Border staff do not monitor entry clearance through a portal in their garden and DWP staff do not interview prospective claimants in their kitchen while making some toast.

Last one.  “Compressed hours”.  Aside from that being potentially flexible working, and so has legal backing, why would anyone care how you put in your time as long as you put in 36 hours?

And then I saw it.  36 hours.  Not 37.  36 hours is a London contract.  The civil service outside London works a 37 hour week as full time.  Unless all the half million are working in London – and they aren’t – then the wheels fall off completely here.  The most basic element of working contracts – hours worked – hasn’t even been investigated by two, yes, two reporters at a national newspaper.  And the Taxpayer’s Anschluss, who weren’t in on the “workfare is slavery” article above jumped in right behind this, filth that they are.

The article states within “It is not known how much money is claimed each year in compensation.”

Of course not.  That would involve truth and research.  And this is the Daily Mail.