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“When I was a chylde I spake as a chylde
I vnderstode as a childe
I ymagened as a chylde.
But assone as I was a man I put awaye childesshnes.”
1 Corinthians 13:11 – Tyndale translation
When I was a child I rather like Prince Charles. After all, we got a day off school for his investiture, and (if I recall correctly, but probably don’t) were gifted some pointless gewgaws – perhaps a mug and a coin. And at that time anything with the word “Wales” in it seemed good to me. It was only later that I realised how the role of the so-called “Prince of Wales” symbolised the systematic oppression of the Welsh by the English; it substantialised the English authorities’ desire to eradicate the Welsh culture and language; and was a start of the systematic rape of the country’s natural resources and brutal exploitation of its workforce for the benefit of the English robber-barons.
And that was before I came to understand that his status was gifted not upon merit, but upon from whose uterus he was squeezed out. And in the womb-squeezing lottery he won first prize.
It’s probably fair to say that today I’m no longer a fan of Brian.
Still, I’m not a man of rigid beliefs, and when I saw his Duchy tea bags for sale half-price I bought a couple of boxes.
When I opened the first box my disappointment started: the inner foil wrapping designed to keep the contents fresh was silver – not gold. Hardly the royal wrapping I’d been expecting. Perhaps His Majesty thinks that gold is too good for hoi polloi? Perhaps he keeps a gold-wrapped version just for himself and his family?
On ripping the wrapping I saw the teabags, and again my heart fell. I’d expected the bags to have strings and little tags attached. But then, perhaps the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Wales he thinks that we all, like him, have some flunky to pluck the sodden sachets from the boiling water whilst burning their fingers so there’s no need for string or tag.
And then the bags themselves, they weren’t separate, but in pairs. Frankly, I’d have thought that the Honorary Commodore of the Gurkha Rifles and the Duke of Cornwall (they’re both the same person) might have found some time whilst sitting on his gilded throne to tear the bags apart before packaging them. After all, what else does he have to do whilst waiting for the latest suckling from the teat of the British tax payer?
And as for the bags themselves, the paper is brown. Are they made from recycled cardboard and used manila envelopes? And if so, would a little bit of bleach have been too much to ask.
So, Charlie-boy, I’m sadly disappointed by your abject failure.
Well, I was pootling along in the old jalopy when I decided to turn on the wireless, only for my ears to be assailed by the latest musical stylings of the popular beat combo that passes by the name of “The Ting Tings”. Sadly, long gone are the days when the aether was but the sole preserve of long-dead, white, European males with at least a modicum of musical talent. The libretto of The Ting Tings’ oeuvre appears to be somewhat limited both in linguistic scope and in variety. To wit:
“And the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums.”
Yet it took me but a moment to realise that this was a heart-felt tribute to the works of the late, great Victor Hugo*. Perhaps yet not all hope is lost for society.
*And before anyone corrects me, I know that Quasimodo never actually cried “The bells, the bells!” – not even in the 1939 Charles Laughton film.
The UK’s TV Channel 5 is perhaps not a place to expect quality programming. After all, it’s owned by Britain’s most successful pornographer, Richard Desmond, who is more associated with his offerings such as “Ben Dover’s Loose Women” and “Amateur British Lesbos”. However, it contains a few gems such as “The Hotel Inspector” in which Alessandra “Alex” Polizzi of the Forte hotel dynasty tries to fix broken hotel businesses. Her upperclass accent counterpoints her astute obervations which are occasionally bitchy (“whoever designed these rooms, she deserves to be bitch-slapped”), yet she is wonderfully empathetic with the hopelessly misguided hoteliers it is her mission to help. And it produces a strange frisson of delight when a profane word comes uttered from the charming mouth of this charming woman.
When it was announced that Gordon Ramsay was going to star in a shameless American rip-off of the format, I was initially thrilled. It obviously meant that Ramsay had fixed all the dodgy restaurants in America (“Kitchen Nightmares”), had found a new chef for his Las Vegas restaurants (“Hell’s Kitchen”), found America’s best amateur cook (“Masterchef US”), reformed the UK’s prison population (“Gordon Behind Bars”) and managed to teach the whole of the UK how to cook delectable dishes (“Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course”). Not for a moment did I think he was spreading himself too thin.
My second thought was that Ramsay has never run an hotel in his life. It would be about as appropriate for Ramsay to proffer advice on running an hotel on the basis of having stayed in some as it would be for me to regard myself as an expert on how to run a restaurant having eaten in a few over the years.
My third thought, however, was far more disturbing: in The Hotel Inspector, in one recent episode, Alex Polizzi appeared naked. It was when she was trying to fix a naturist hotel in Birmingham where clothing was verboten. It took her a few days to pluck up the courage to undress for the camera, and everything was photographed oh-so-tastefully; there was always a potted plant strategically positioned to hide her modesty. Heaven forfend that Ramsay’s Hotel Hell should feature a naked Gordon Ramsay! Who would want to see the 45 year old’s wrinkly sagging flesh? But it was to come to pass.
In week one the viewers were treated to a sight of a naked Ramsay’s derrière as he entered a bathtub. I assumed this was a one-off and continued watching.
In week two, we were again regailed with Ramsay en déshabillé. Surely an aberation. But no! Weeks 3 and 4 both featured Ramsay au naturel. Is there no limit to the starkers chef that the viewing public is expected to stomach?
One curious feature, though, is that Chef Ramsay appears to have a large tattoo of a draughtsboard on his buttocks – either that, or the offending parts were pixelated by the TV company. Personally, I hope never to find out.
It appears that the young son of a British MP was arrested in Laos recently on drugs charges. For some inexplicable reason this story was totally ignored by every single newspaper in Britain. Surely not another superinjunction to protect the reputation of a member of parliament and their family?
My failure to find out who the MP concerned is gives me a bit of a stumper. Should I be commenting on the hypocrisy of the Conservative party – the so-called party of “family values”? Or should I be talking about the Labour party’s moral degeneracy? Or should I bemoan the abject failings of a Liberal upbringing? Answers on a postcard, please.
It has always struck me as a little strange that Japanese dishes such as fish tempura and tonkatsu are often accompanied by a squirt of English mustard. Similarly, it seems to me odd that omurice is almost invariably topped with tomato ketchup. The Japanese have also adopted Worcestershire sauce, and a thicker variant of it is a mandatory accompaniment to tonkatsu. And then there’s mayonnaise. It is (of course) drizzled over salads, served as a dip with takoyaki, and no okonomiyaki would seem complete without it on top.
I struggled to think of any similar flow of Japanese – or, indeed, any oriental condiment – from East to West, with the possible exception of mushroom ketchup, which I believed originated in India. That said, it’s hardly a mainstream occidental accompaniment. I was therefore rather taken aback by a recent episode of Masterchef Australia. What happened was this…
One contestant was asked to select one of three condiments which must play a central role in the food they were to prepare. (Specifically they were asked to make “dude food” – a culinary category I hadn’t heard of before.) The three possible condiments were tomato ketchup, Thai chili sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise. The other contestants appeared universally delighted that it was to be the Japanese mayonnaise. It seems that Japanese mayonnaise has made it from Japan to Down Under.
Obviously, I’ve eaten Kewpie mayonnaise before. It’s smoother and sweeter than “true” mayonnaise. Occasionally I shop at a Japanese-owned supermarket here in Bangkok and take home a tub of potato salad and a ham sandwich which is liberally doused with the stuff (including an extra blob on the outside). It’s strangely addictive. I wondered why, and now I know…
Kewpie mayonnaise (the name coming from the abbreviation Q.P.) differs from classical mayonnaise in a number of respects. For example, it’s made only with egg yolks, rather than whole eggs, giving it a yellowish colour. It’s emulsified more than normal making it very smooth. The acid in it is a mixture of apple and rice vinegars. And … drum roll … it contains a heavy dose of MSG. No wonder it’s so more-ish and has started to take over the world! Everything tastes better with MSG – even “dude food”.
A friend of mine, a committed, caring professional, has recently come under attack by a seemingly deranged woman who has written a number of blog posts which attack him and his work, despite the fact that the woman concerned has never even met him. Naturally he’s been concerned that her baseless accusations will affect his reputation and livelihood. It’s particularly unfortunate that searching for his name (and he has a very distinctive surname) on Google brings up her hate pages in positions 2, 3 and 4. Hurtful as the situation is, my advice to him was to do nothing; any attempt at publicity will only fuel the situation.
Until a couple of days ago I’d never heard of Caroline Spelman or her teenage, rugby-playing son, Jonny. However, she applied for a superinjunction to prevent any publication of details of her son’s bad behaviour. That application failed, but she did obtain a common-or-garden injunction which has prevented the British press from publishing details of what happened. Naturally I was curious. Information is hard to come by about what Jonny did, though the suggestion appears to be that he had sex with an underage girl, which is rather embarrassing for his mother, given that she’s a government minister in “the party of family values”. No doubt the dinner party set in Hampstead knows the ins-and-outs of his tiny peccadillo, but it’s not something for us little people to know about.
Sometimes I want to write on my blog about a particular subject, but hold myself back. The recent failed terrorist attack in Bangkok is a case in point. Because the would-be bombers were Moslem and because the planned attack was seemingly motivated by a religiously inspired hatred of Jews I stayed my pen. Had the attackers been inspired by Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Zoroastrian extremism I am pretty certain that I would have written something, but we’ve been conditioned to treat matters relating to The Religion of Peace with kid gloves.
It’s a pity (for him) that Hazma Kashgari wasn’t a little more cautious when he tweeted, referring to Islam’s prophet:
“I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don’t understand about you … I will not pray for you”.
It’s now a distinct possibility that his head will be severed from his shoulders by the authorities in Saudi Arabia. (I rather doubt they got Interpol involved to get him deported from Malaysia just so they could have a prolonged philosophical discussion with him about his theological doubts.)
In all religion there’s a lot not to believe. I no more believe that Jesus walked on water than that Mohammed had a magic flying donkey. I equally doubt that Sidartha Gautama was able to walk from the moment he was born and that lotus blossoms grew from where his feet touched the ground. I also doubt the powers of The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s noodly appendages, and that Haile Selassie is a god. I’m also pretty sure that a monkey army from India didn’t invade Sri Lanka. (The only army of monkeys I believe in was in The Wizard of Oz – and they flew.)
I can well believe that for a thinking Moslem the fact that their prophet, supposedly the perfect man, had sex with a nine year old girl, and that he ordered the execution of several hundred Jews at Qurayza, and … well, there’s a lot more … might be a bit of a problem. Frankly, I’m not surprised that the 23 year old Kashgari is confused about his prophet. I think in the same circumstances I would be too – though I’d rather not to lose my head over it.
Some of my earliest memories are of going to work with my grandfather. He was secretary to a group of Miners’ Institutes in the valleys of south Wales. We travelled in his small car collecting the takings from the snwcer tables (he always used the Welsh pronunciation) from various Institutes which we then counted in his office before taking them to the bank in cloth bags. From him I learnt that eight half crowns or ten florins made a pound.
That was all back in the 1960s. The Institutes even then were in decline with fewer miners to read the newspapers or forage away in the dusty, musty libraries piled high with books. Following the destruction of the mining industry in the 80s under Thatcher, few of the hundred or more Institutes that used to be in south Wales have survived. Many are now simply crumbling ruins.
The Institutes started in the late 19th century as miners gathered together and paid a regular subscription to fund the building and running of an Institute. Each Institute had a library and a reading room. The larger ones had a meeting hall for public gatherings and some a snwcer hall and refreshment area. The Institutes were socialist in philosophy, driven by a desire to help the working man better himself. No one wanted to work down a mine if there were an alternative. The work was filthy, dangerous and poorly paid. Accidents were common as was industrial disease (Miners’ Lung). My own grandfather started working at the pit when he was 14, and lost his leg a short while later when a mining tram he was riding in jumped the rails and ran over his leg. He said it was the best thing that ever happened to him – it took him away from the pit. As I said – no one wanted to work down a mine.
Today in Britain that socialist ideal seems to have vanished. We have young people (albeit a tiny minority, and some not so young) looting and robbing, trashing and setting fire to property, running wild with no respect for others or fear of the police. How did we get to this point? It’s a subject that has been endlessly pontificated about in the press over the last few days with the usual suspects airing their usual prejudices, so I felt like I should pontificate too, mostly to get some of my thoughts straight in my head.
The first recorded use of the word “teenager” was in 1941. By the 50s the teenager had become a clearly distinct group in society. No longer were children in their teens dressed like small-scale adults. No longer were they put to work down the pit or in factories at 14. Society had lowered its expectations of mature, responsible behaviour from this cohort; they had their own music and dress sense and used the freedom to rebel against their “square” (1944) elders.
What are you rebelling against?
What have you got?
– The Wild One (1953)
In the early 1960s London Transport decided it wanted to import workers to drive our buses and clean our toilets rather than to pay a decent wage to attract British workers. Over the decades more and more immigrants have arrived on our shores, some of them highly skilled doctors and architects, but others poorly educated labourers – peasant farmers and the like. This has created an underclass which fails to place a sufficiently high value on education leading to poorly educated youths with few prospects in life.
Of course, it’s not just with 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation immigrants that you find families with low expectations and equally low attainment. There have been other factors at work.
In the mid-80s Harry Enfield created a comedy character, a plasterer who received exorbitant amounts of money for doing very little. Loadsamoney (as he was called) encapsulated Thatcherite greed; people laughed at him because they knew it was true. Thatcher promulgated of a doctrine of “every man for himself”, a doctrine of greed and selfishness. People were left with no broader vision or purpose other than serving themselves. This created a sense of entitlement. You could have a microwave, a colour TV and a hi fi system, enough money to spend on fags and booze, yet still consider yourself to be living in poverty. You didn’t need to work because the state would give you money for nothing which you could spend on the latest consumer goods and your vices. Subsequent governments of all persuasions have continued the Thatcherite dogma.
There are other factors at play – particularly, in my opinion, parenting. The breakdown of the family is reflected by the number of children being raised by a single parent. (3 million children in Britain are being raised by single parents). That’s three million children with one fewer adult to guide and discipline them. Of course, some single parents do an excellent job. One loving parent is undoubtedly better than two indifferent ones. Even for children with two parents at home children are now living much more independent lives as is exemplified by how rare it has become for families to sit down together at a table every night for dinner. I’d also posit that parents have generally become lazier in their parenting over the years, now far keener to sit on the couch and occasionally shout at their offspring, rather than providing strict, consistent boundaries for their children’s behaviour, but then good parenting is undoubtedly hard work.
There have been Jeremiahs over the centuries who’ve complained about how society has been going downhill. Indeed, as one becomes older such an outlook perhaps become the norm. And it’s true there has always been a poorly educated underclass and feral youths. And there have been plenty of riots over the past centuries, and shops have been looted and stores set on fire. However, I do fear the outlook for Britain is bleak. How can society possibly undo the causes that have created an underclass completely lacking in respect for others and for the rule of law, and with such a sense of entitlement to material goods that they are prepared to go to any lengths to satisfy their greed?
Dogs eat meat. They have sharp teeth to rip and tear flesh. So why does dog food have corn and rice cereal as its main ingredient, and also contain corn gluten meal, soy bean meal, wheat flour, carrot and spinach? It’s virtually vegan. Anyway, that’s why I frequently give Whisky a little meat or fish or an egg. Since dogs have a poor sense of taste* I usually get the cheapest meat I can find. Yesterday I was boiling up chicken hearts for him. It reminded me of a beautiful, haunting song by Christina Perri whose career skyrocketed after it was featured last season on So You Think You Can Dance. I can’t embed the video, but the link is:
* When first picked up Whisky was wearing a red and white napkin tied around his neck in lieu of a collar. Red and white with those fur tones? What a fashion faux pas!
It appears that a couple of spoiled rich kids are getting married in London tomorrow. This is a matter of such global import that The Bangkok Post has been carrying page-long articles about the couple’s impending nuptials for the last week, and tomorrow we can look forward to four-page, full colour wraparound (whatever one of this is). I can barely contain my excitement.
The cost for the security (just security) for this beanfeast is apparently not unadjacent to £20,000,000. Such security appears to be necessary because Muslims Against Crusades (a British Islamist organisation) has declared that the wedding is a “legitimate terror target”. I’m not sure they understand the meaning of the word “legitimate” – particularly in the context of a terrorist attack. Be that as it may, their spokesman, Abu Abbas, has also recommended that all Moslems stay away from central London on the day, partly to avoid “the drinking, drug taking and sexual promiscuity” – but mostly to avoid being blown to smithereens by their co-religionists.
Of course, if the Pontiff, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi, whoever heads the Humanists, Yoda and the Supreme Dalek issued similar warnings to their followers to stay away the streets would be clear and there’d be no need to spend such a vast sum of public money on our boys in blue.
One might feel sorry for Middleton, if she weren’t such a cheap, shallow social climber. She’s now destined to a life of utter tedium, where her major decision each day will be whether to shag her riding instructor or regurgitate her lunch.
The prospect of marrying that prematurely balding, smirking git with braying laugh and delinquent chin is enough to make anyone vomit. But then, the prospect of fabulous wealth and privilege and endless paparazzi photographs in Hello magazine is enough to turn the head of the shallowest grasping bimbo.
On the positive side, the marriage is hardly likely to last long. The royals in recent years have had trouble keeping to the “till death us do part” part of the marriage vows. I wonder how it feels to be a starter queen?
Doubtless the Palace PR machine will attempt to turn Middleton into some sort of icon. They did a stunningly good job with Diana. A quick trip to Bosnia and a few photoshoots over the hospital beds of people with AIDS turned her into a living saint, oft favourably compared to Mother Theresa. (Actually, you could probably compare Jack the Ripper favourably to the bigoted Albanian raisin-look-alike who was far more interested in raising funds for wimples and rosaries than in providing proper medical care for those unfortunate enough to come into her charge. But I digress.)
The obscene public expense of the rich twits getting hitched is not without purpose: it reminds us how they are better than the rest of us. They have their position because it’s the will of God (or possibly of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I’m not sure), and they need to take every possible opportunity to rub our noses in the fact. Insecure muchly. The fact that this spectacle is about as appetising as that of Caligula celebrating his conjugals with Incitatus appears to be lost on the Windsors.
Surely it’s long overdue for this inbred family of cretins and hypocrites to go. Haven’t they lived off the backs of decent, working people for far too long, their sole skills being in hand waving, hoarding and profligately spending the wealth of the British people? Time to start sharpening the guillotines once more.
The social niceties of public urination for men are manifold, though the rules unwritten. In a public urinal one mustn’t talk. One must stare at the wall whilst peeing, not look down. There’s a complex etiquette of which urinal one should elect. And there’s the standard distance away from the wall that one must stand. (Curiously, in Thailand that distance is much less than in the West.) It also appears that it’s mandatory to sprinkle a few drops on the floor in front of the urinal – at least, it appears so to judge by the state of most men’s public toilets.
Peeing is, of course, a competitive activity. A few years ago a company introduced a range of porcelain with a single fly printed at a strategic point. The idea was that men would aim at the fly, reducing spashback and misfired streams. Now the wily Japanese have gone one step further. Sega (the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog) have produced urinals with built-in video games controlled by pee. Now when one micturates one can make the skirt of a cartoon girl rise, and with sufficient force and accuracy one might even see her panties. Only in Japan …