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Verbs, and other confusing concepts

March 28, 2011 3 comments

 

Not to come over all Munchausen by proxy, but I must confess I’ve been looking up symptoms all day. Because there seems to be a plague, a plague I tell you, sweeping the country. The only symptom I’ve been able to pin down with any degree of certainty is this: the inability to tell the difference between ‘sitting down’ and ‘throwing things’. Annoyingly, it fits no diagnostic criteria I can find. But what if it spreads? What if we become unable to tell the difference between ‘eating something’ and ‘writing something’? The end of days, my friends, the end of days.

I have known many, many deeply irritating and offensive people in my time. Most of them are my friends. And they do many things which could annoy almost anyone. But generally speaking, I, and everyone else they annoy, can tell the difference between when they sit down and when they throw things. And one of these things is much worse than the other. For example, sometimes they sit down for too long and refuse to leave or go to bed; this can be distinctly inconvenient. However my reaction to this is of a very different degree of irritation to that which I experience if they throw things. That reaction tends to be brisk and efficient and marks the end of any good evening.

So on Saturday some things happened, in case anyone has been under a rock. And then there was news coverage. The things were as follows:

There was a march.

There was a peaceful occupation, which I will refer to as a sit in even if they were sometimes standing.

There was throwing of things.

These were three different events, represented by three different verbs. Despite the fact that standing and sitting are now growing confusing for me (because you see, this plague is almost certainly contagious) I am still fairly sure that I can see the difference in these verbs  – marching, sitting, throwing things.

Unlike in rock-paper-scissors, one of these things will always win. So, as ever, rock-throwing-pillocks make the papers, ensuring minimal coverage for those fighting the cuts.

Right at the start of the march I saw an odd sight: lots and lots of young people – teenagers, young teenagers – all getting dressed up in their best black uniform and matching headwear. Watching teenagers ‘suit up’ is not a pleasant experience. It is against the laws of god and man and any right thinking person recoils from it as from eating spoiled meat – there is something truly unnatural about a group of teenagers willingly donning a uniform.

Happily, being younger than us, they moved much faster than us, and we didn’t see them for long. Off they scampered through the crowd on their young legs, off to throw things. These little pillocks were the black bloc(k), which I refuse to capitalise, because they don’t deserve capital letters. They are also Wankers, which I am happy to capitalise, just for emphasis.

Had the convenient UKUncut not been around to pick up the blame, we, the peaceful, kid-carting, wheelchair-using massive who schlepped two miles in about five hours, would have been picking up the slack for those little pillocks and their actions. ‘A vote for Labour is a vote for anarchy,’ some balanced news-rag would have proclaimed, and we would have been indignant. We would have been blamed for kids out for kicks, which is what most of them were, and we would have been furious because walking is not the same as throwing things.

Instead UKUncut are carrying the blame for something that is nothing to do with them – as little to do with them as it is to do with us, the general marchers. The black block (teenagers who like wearing uniforms for fun at the weekend) are football hooligans. I’m fairly sure we figured out a while back that professional football hooligans can’t be blamed on football fans, no matter how annoying we might find football fans. These are two unrelated, albeit juxtaposed, groups. Even if the football fans are ‘drinking’ and ‘singing’ we are forced to acknowledge that they are not ‘stabbing people’ or ‘throwing rocks.’ It comes back to those  verb-things.

Sit ins, even if they aren’t your cup of tea, are not violent, and they are not the actions of the unmitigated jackasses who ran riot on Saturday. Sit ins, at worst, are the unwelcome guests who want to sing one more song at 4am when you’d prefer to just go to bed. Not the same as the twat who came along with them who, off his face, is now putting his fist through a window.

Getting these things confused is the same as blaming a random member of the police force for killing Ian Tomlinson or blaming a random priest for abusing kids – illogical, annoying, probably libellous and utterly, utterly self-defeating.

So I continue to search the medical databases. What could be the cause for this sudden inability differentiate between verbs? Is it cognitive? A new variant of synthaesia? Wilful myopia? We need to figure this out, people, because until we do we’re going to continue to sound like fucking idiots. And this country is already being run by enough of those.

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Down with this sort of thing

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

                  

Rumours have reached parliament that great hordes of rabidly ungrateful individuals intend to publicly protest against the government this weekend.

“Is this about the forests again?” demanded a bankbencher.

When journalists tentatively attempted to explain that it was not about the forests so much as about closing libraries, privatizing the NHS, privatizing all public services, pay cuts, cuts to housing benefit, cuts to Disability Living Allowance, a likely million and half public service job losses, laws against feeding the homeless and a feeling that perhaps we were not all in this together, the Tories were flabbergasted.

Initial government estimates indicated that the protest would consist of the fifteen or so hard left ultra-radicals who think everyone should be allowed to have a job.  However this turned out to be an underestimation as it emerged that several hundred thousand people intend to march. Aware that all the policies being questioned are for the good of ordinary people, the Tories fear that this militant protest movement will confuse the hard-working families their polices are specifically designed to help.

“I just don’t know what more we can do to subdue these scurrilously unpatriotic attitudes,” said an unnamed minister, looking pale at the thought. “We told them we’re all in it together during this difficult time – that means they’re meant to die quietly in the gutter for the good of the country, not march about disrupting traffic and whining! What if it prevents people from shopping and supporting our economy? This is worse than savagery. It’s treason!”

“You can be sure that when we introduce conscription and make marching on a Saturday afternoon a legal requirement for most of these scroungers that they turn around and complain about that as well!” said an incredulous senior Tory. “It’s just ungrateful! I mean, here we are, all being in it together, and these people still find something to complain about!”

By afternoon, distress had spread through the government.

“And they’re all silly jobs, the ones we’re cutting, not real jobs. They’re the sort of jobs that Labour only invented to bribe people into voting for them and to pander to the notion that women and poor people are actually employable. We’re doing the country a favour by getting rid of them. Only the right kind of ordinary people should have jobs.”

Mr Cameron, sought to calm his distraught MPs with a typically wise and pragmatic assessment of the situation.

“There is a great tradition in this country of letting people wander around the capital for a while and then ignoring them. As in many aspects of this great role in which I find myself, I will be looking to my predecessors for inspiration. Although I’m not sure I will get to accuse them of having blood on their hands unless we actually set the dogs and the horses on them. Then they might have blood on their hands, I suppose.”

“It’s their way of feeling involved in things,” he added sagely. “Of course, when the Big Society kicks in, they’ll all be involved and they won’t need to take part in marches like this one – and we’ll be able to finish banning the right to assemble.”

Mr Clegg was asked for his opinion of the upcoming protest.

“Of course this is all very fair. It’s fair that we allow people to assemble for as long as that’s still legal. And it’s also fair that we pretend to respect this march because we know it’s completely ineffectual. And because there’ll be a lot of press watching. It wouldn’t be fair to use police brutality and CS gas on a march of this size, because there’ll be cameras there.”

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An Irish Solution to an Irish President

March 17, 2011 1 comment

Back in Atlantis, they are going to elect a new president this year. I know, they just got a new government – how much democracy can one bankrupt country afford in a single year? But they’re going ahead with it anyway – constitutional requirement and whatnot – and it will lead to a new president. Which is deeply, deeply unimportant, because the president of Ireland is a ceremonial sort of head of state role, a figurehead and nothing more. What usually happens is that each of the main (three) political parties nominates someone worthy but thoroughly unexciting, and one of them gets elected, and then everyone gets on with their lives.

But this year something mildly interesting is happening, in fitting with 2011’s resolution to really make its mark in the history books. This year, someone is being nominated by a facebook campaign. And that someone is David Norris.

David Norris is what they call ‘a well known character’ back in the old country, but I’ll provide some background notes for those who aren’t from the old country.

David Norris is a Joycean scholar of international renown. He is probably the most famous campaigner for gay rights in Ireland. He is the man who took Ireland to the European Court of Human Rights in 1988 and won, and is the reason that homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993. (No typos there, seriously. That is actually what happened.) He has been an elected member of Ireland’s ‘upper house’ for twenty years. He is also famous for not much liking the IRA. And he’s very, very funny.

This sounds good, you’re thinking. Someone with intelligence, the ability to think, to speak in complete sentences maybe. Someone with political passion and integrity. Someone with the guts to take on the overwhelming and oppressive cultural norms of the day and emerge victorious. Someone who isn’t a fan of terrorism. These are good things. They’re the sort of things I check for when I meet new people.

And yet lots of people are making funny little squeaky noises about not quite being sure they’d vote for him. I’ve been trying to translate their funny little squeaky noises into arguments because these might be easier to address than the nebulous sense of discomfort. Let’s see how I do. Let me know if I’ve missed anything.

Problem: Well, he’s too academic, you see. He’ll never get elected because he’s too academic, elitist, smart, intellectual, and other words we’ve been taught to mistrust.

Solution:  Well, we sure as hell wouldn’t want to be represented on the public stage by someone with a brain and the education to use it. Instead, always choose honest-to-god folks who can’t write their own fucking names. Start a facebook campaign demanding Bertie Ahern and George W Bush throw their hats in the ring.

Problem: It’s not that he’s gay of course. In the 18 years since his extraordinary victory in the European Court of Human Rights was made statute, Ireland has travelled an impressive distance. Just the right distance to ensure no one will admit they won’t vote for him because he’s gay. But it might be difficult for heads of other states to take him seriously, you have to understand. Because, well, he’s kind of camp. What if having to talk to a camp man offended the delicate sensibilities of Berlusconi or Ahmadinejad? 

Solution: Presumably a sixteen year old girl in full burqa would be an acceptable compromise for the gentlemen in question. I’m not sure this is actually how we should pick a head of state, but I suppose it must be considered.

Problem: Not liking the IRA is, it turns out, quite a big issue. Not that per se, of course, because we’re all very grown up now. But a man who has called the martyrs of 1916 ‘terrorists’ isn’t a suitable head of state to lead the flag-waving centenary celebrations which I personally will be avoiding like the plague unless Mr Cameron deports me before then.

Solution: Choose a head of state based on their ability to wave a flag. Better yet, save money and elect a flagpole. This would be indistinguishable from several former Irish presidents.       

Problem: We’re actually rather uncomfortable about not wanting to vote for an intellectual gay man with a noted disapproval of terrorism. We know this doesn’t paint us in quite the progressive light we’d now like to be seen.

Solution: Congratulate yourselves on just how far this country has come in thirty painful years. Then vote for Mr Norris. Shake off the coyness, the shoulder-shrugging, the lingering sense of unease about an intellectual gay man as your head of state. And please, please, vote for Mr Norris.

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Scorn not his big society

March 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Mr Cameron was today challenged on what some saw as a potential flaw with “releasing public services from the grip of state control”.

Cutting edge research revealed that the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 states that anyone doing work for an organisation must be paid at least the minimum wage. While charities, voluntary organisations and statutory bodies are legally entitled to employ unpaid voluntary workers, private companies are not.

On the face of it, this may present a problem for the implementation of two of Mr Cameron’s most treasured schemes – on one hand, all public sector jobs being done for free; on the other, the outsourcing of all public sector work to private industry, This morning it was pointed out by radical left wing organisers that private companies may not be covered by ‘charities, voluntary organisation and statutory bodies’ and would therefore be leally obliged to pay people for doing a job. Some representatives of the vicious left wing media went so far as to say that Mr Cameron’s two top policy initiatives might now be irreconcilable.

When the revelations broke, several senior tories scratched what appeared to be their heads. In comments made off the record, a number admitted they had never heard of the legislation in question.

“Who came up with this nonsense?” asked one. But morale in the party was hit hard when an intern confirmed that the legislation indeed existed and that the far-left’s unpatriotic attempt to undermine Mr Cameron’s hopes for a better Britain might have some legal legitimacy.

“But if we can’t make all the people we fire work for free, the whole country will collapse!” said one. “I mean, someone has to do these jobs that are getting slashed all over the place. Quite a lot of them are important.”

“Also, if we can’t make everyone work for free, how would the Big Society work?” asked another, looking confused. “We don’t have all that many policies, so it’s really important that we can keep saying this one is going ahead full steam.”

Suggestions that this revelation might discourage plans to auction off public services were quickly dismissed.

“No, we are committed to this very real option for genuine diversity,” Mr Cameron told the press at lunchtime. “Also, we’ve already promised lots of the contracts to our friends.”

However reconciling the two schemes took all afternoon, during which time Mr Clegg volunteered to be tied to a pole outside parliament to distract the public by allowing them to throw things at him.

By tonight, the government had started to downplay any suggestions that these debates would hamper their plans.      

“It’s very simple,” said Mr Cameron. “Firstly, we’ll need to repeal the National Minimum Wage Act, which we were going to do anyway. That really is the only important thing here. This will remove any controversy about our plans.

 Mr Cameron did not address rumours that the government’s back up plan involved conscription for people who have been out of work for more than one week and who can’t support themselves.

Mr Clegg confirmed that his party had checked these plans for fairness and he was as happy to approve them as he was to be released from the pole.

“It wouldn’t be right if we were seen to break the law,” he explained. “But repealing the law would mean that we don’t break it, and that means we remain completely fair, as well as blatantly transparent, which is what the country wants and what we always promised.”

Maliciously not breaking the law

March 10, 2011 Leave a comment

The delightful UKUncut have raised the issue of legal tax avoidance, which means not paying tax that one is not obliged to. A silly position, one might think, because who pays more tax than they are obliged to? Frankly, most of us pay the amount that is removed before we ever see it, and then try to remember to pay our council tax before we get a court summons. We don’t offer to pay more and there’s really no mechanism in place to do so. I’ve tried paying too much council tax, due to a serial inability to count when it matters, and they send it right back to me, or at least refund it at the end of the year.

So can it possibly be fair to label those who have not broken the law as malicious anti-social thugs who wreck the fabric of society and destroy the lives of ordinary people through their selfishness and greed?

I don’t know. Can it, Mr Cameron?

The branding of recipients of welfare payments as work-shy fraudulent scroungers is not Mr Cameron’s. It has been a mainstay of the right-wing press for years now and was pandered to pitifully under Labour. But Mr Cameron has added an entirely new layer of mythology to this fable. Mr Cameron has sought to blame welfare recipients for an international recession.

And that, my friends, is pretty fucking impressive.

I mean, seriously, I am impressed. Awed, really. I’ve read my Orwell, and I’ve seen some really impressive backtracking and arse-covering in my time but this has been my first genuine sighting of the 1984 experience.

Back in early 2010, the people of Britain were still generally under the impression that the international recession was caused by diabolically run banks. Through a subtle understanding of context clues and sheer, bloody-minded repetition, they had also grasped that this was something to do with lots of countries. There was a clue in the ‘international’ bit. Four months later, there was the sudden revelation that in Britain, the international recession was caused by the welfare state, unemployment benefits and probably Disability Living Allowance with its 1% recorded fraud rate.

And while blaming Labour for ‘giving all the money away’, there is a simultaneous attempt to blame the recipients for receiving it.

Let’s be clear about one thing – this goes beyond ‘clamping down on benefit fraud’. This is about linking receipt of benefit with a vast array of pejorative and slanderous terms – because these people are all malicious anti-social thugs who wreck the fabric of society and destroy the lives of ordinary people through their selfishness and greed.

The inability to find or keep a job during a period of international recession, and then to claim the benefits to which you are entitled makes you a malicious anti-social thug who wrecks the fabric of society and destroys the lives of ordinary people through your selfishness and greed.

Losing your job right now in any of the inevitable rounds of redundancy brought about by drastically reducing the size of local government or the civil service? That’s right, unless you’re independently wealthy and were only working because of your personal passion for the job in question, this will make you a malicious anti-social thug who wrecks the fabric of society and destroys the lives of ordinary people through your selfishness and greed.

Every mention of ‘hard working families’ means one thing – anyone not working is to blame for your hardships. You aren’t a person having a rough time during an international recession – you are a Hard Working Family, you have an identity. So do They. And They’re to blame.

At some point a logical circuit has to break in this cycle of unholy nonsense. I’m not sure how or when that’s going to happen. For many people it will come when they lose their job, possibly after years of working, perhaps having never received any state benefits before, or not in any way they appreciated as such.

I don’t know what percentage of the population will need to be unemployed before the miserable reality of making ends meet on welfare payments reasserts itself in the national consciousness. I do think we might find out, but it’s not something I’d wish on anyone.

In the meantime, querying the extent to which multimillionaires avail of their own brand of benefits, questioning their contributions to society during a time when we are repeatedly told ‘there’s just no money left’, asking why this government has not stepped up to close these loopholes with the same remarkable alacrity as they show when it comes to welfare benefits? Well, that seems quite a sensible thing to do under the circumstances.

Satire dead, eaten by Mr Cameron

March 4, 2011 2 comments

After nine months in power, Mr Cameron was asked today what he felt has been his greatest achievement to date.

“That’s a hard question – I think we have worked solidly and consistently in so many areas. But I think our most significant achievement has been to really end satire in this country. We’ve created an environment where no one knows just how far we might go with our wonderful, sweeping reforms that we have no choice about anyway. This ensures that so-called ‘comedians’, who work only to undermine the comforting certainties of ordinary people, have stopped making jokes about us.

How did we achieve this? Well, through hard work and through listening to the people. In fact, mainly through listening to the satirists and then implementing policies based on a literal interpretation of their purported jokes. It’s been working very well so far.”

A small handful of renegade satirists have continued to say unkind things about the government under the guise of humour, but with Mr Cameron’s admission that his policies are based largely on the material they provide, a fearful country is turning fast against them.

The media has implemented emergency measures banning the publication of satire or political comedy in any form, pending further investigation of its disastrous consequences.

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Mervyn King revealed as sleeper agent for the far left

March 3, 2011 1 comment

 

It emerged this week that Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, has been a sleeper agent for the far left throughout his long career in British economics.

His secret identity was revealed when he exploded with Trotskyite venom on Wednesday, blaming bankers for the collapse of the banking systems and subsequent recession. His comments have shocked Whitehall, who only last month issued a fiat to the effect that bankers were now absolved of any blame for any recent financial problems, that the people of UK would never mention it again, that it was time for bankers’ bonuses to grow to gargantuan proportions once more, and that the recession was all Labour’s fault anyway.

Not content with blaming the bankers for the collapse of the economy, Mr King went on to suggest that ‘ordinary people’ were now ‘bearing the brunt of the cuts’ – completely undermining the Tories’ consistent rhetoric on this subject, which has made it clear that the scroungers who bear the brunt of the cuts are completely different to ‘ordinary people’. He further suggested that such ‘ordinary people’ should be ‘angry’ about this.

This extraordinary outbreak, compared on the internet to the insane rantings of Gadaffi and Charlie Sheen, led swiftly to a single conclusion amongst reasonable analysts. Mervyn King is in fact a crazed Trotskyite. He has operated as a sleeper agent for the far left during rise through the Bank of England, and has only now openly revealed his secret plan to bring down capitalism.

There was rampant speculation about what Mr King might say next, having finally broken his cover. Rumours spread about the possibility of further revolutionary comments, and by Thursday the insurrection seemed to be growing in the financial sector, with a leading economist suggesting publicly that the government’s current policy of firing everyone might not actually work. Firing all the scroungers from the jobs the country can’t afford might prevent them from buying shiny electronic goods, he suggested, and could lead to further depression of the economy.

With the country still reeling from this incoherent socialist blasphemy, Mr Cameron has reacted with customary efficiency. He announced this afternoon that Mervyn King has been removed from post pending execution.

“No, it certainly isn’t unreasonable,” said the Prime Minister, when asked for some clarification about his actions. “The one thing we ask from the head of the Bank of England is that his doesn’t turn out to be a sleeper agent for the far left. I think it’s fair to say that we do not expect high standards from leading financiers in this country – we don’t ask them to be honest, accountable, competent or to pay tax. But being a sleeper agent for the far left crosses the line and we had to address this as a matter of priority.”

Mr Clegg confirmed that his party had been consulted and fully agreed that this approach was fair. “Executing sleeper agents for the far left who have infiltrated the Bank of England and worked as its head for twenty years is completely fair and balanced,” he said tonight.

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