They were a group of lads (all of Malcolm’s vintage), working out of RAF Wittering . That was the base for ground-attack aircraft (duck as you raced up that bit of the A1!) — hence ‘Hedgehoppers’. Because they were military, they had to be “Anonymous”. And, also hence: Hedgehoppers Anonymous:
And they were good. Far, far better than many of the catch-penny beat groups that “made it” longer.
For those of a certain age, of a certain disposition, that lyric stays imprinted:
It’s good news week:
Someone’s dropped a bomb somewhere,
And blackening the sky.
It’s good news week:
Someone’s found a way to give
The rotting dead a will to live,
Go on and never die.
If the first stanza/verse explains why these guys were out-of-kilter with the 1960s RAF, the next one remains omni-present.
Take the last few hours
The Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell story has been one that kept giving for the Labour opposition. There will be broken hearts among the Labour Party tendency that Mitchell finally went for the political equivalent of a Darwin Award:
The prime tenet of the Darwin Awards is that we are celebrating the self-removal of incompetent genetic material from the human race. Therefore, the potential winner must be deceased, or at least incapable of reproducing. The traditional method is death. However, an occasional rebel opts for sterilization, which allows her more time to enjoy the dubious notoriety of winning a Darwin Award.
The bitter-sweet joy is that it took Mitchell this long: a month of poisonous news-stories, which will not have finished with his resignation. The other barrel is loaded with his last-minute as International Development Secretary decision to award £16 million to President Kagame of Rwanda (The rotting dead a will to live):
Downing Street approved the controversial decision last month by the then international development secretary Andrew Mitchell to restore British aid to Rwanda in spite of fears about the human rights record of the president, Paul Kagame.
As Mitchell faces criticism over his decision to grant £16m in aid on his last day in office, it emerged that the move was backed jointly by No 10 and the Foreign Office (FCO). Hours after his decision last month Mitchell took up the post of government chief whip.
What remains inexplicable is the double standard whereby
- President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir of Sudan was indicted by the International Criminal Court,
- Kagame travels the world scot-free, unindicted and, by the UK government, well-rewarded (at least until the next discreet volte-face).
But then David Cameron has been well-serviced (not least courtesy of Andrew Mitchell) with juicy photo-ops and news-clips in Rwanda.
Credit where it’s due
As Mitchell departs, Sir George Young is slotted, seamlessly, into his place.
Sir George Samuel Knatchbull Young, 6th Baronet, has been around the block somewhat. He did well enough under John Major (as Financial Secretary and then Transport Secretary) but was one of the decent, unpushy Tories who seemed to miss out when the ConDem coalition was formed. He was Leader of the House (surely the one job for which he was made) until, as it seemed, he was made redundant in the Great Cameron Re-shuffle — to provide a fig-leaf for the defenestrated Health Secretary, Lansley.
Now he is back; a gentleman to the marrow. Where ‘Thrasher’ Mitchell was supposed to intimidate, the Bicycling Baronet will charm. Where Mitchell swore, Young will soothe. True noblesse oblige.
For once it is an inspired choice.
But we haven’t finished with the rotting dead
George Osborne is reported to have stumped up an extra £160 for a first class train ticket after being told he could not sit in the restricted area with his standard class fare.
ITV News correspondent Rachel Townsend said she was travelling on a train to Euston when the chancellor got on at Wilmslow, in his Tatton constituency, and tried to get away without paying the extra charge.
Townsend made perfect use of Twitter to report that journey under the hashtag#getGeorgeinstandard, as an aide to the chancellor reportedly tried to persuade the conductor to let her boss stay in first class away from, for want of a better word, the plebs.
What goes missing there is the female “aide”, who apparently had to sort out the penalty fare (as well as her own?). This from the BBC:
The story was broken via a series of tweets by ITV reporter Rachel Townsend, who works for Granada Reports in the North-West of England.
She said: “Very interesting train journey to Euston Chancellor George Osborne just got on at Wilmslow with a STANDARD ticket and he has sat in FIRST CLASS…
“His aide tells ticket collector he cannot possibly move and sit with the likes of us in standard class and requests he is allowed to remain in First Class.
Malcolm’s emphasis: there are indeed some to whom privilege comes unnaturally natural.
Tin-foil hats at the ready!
Feel free to go all conspiracy-theory at Huffington Post:
Ummm … decisions! decisions!
Underneath the arches
Osborne was hurried, shielded, escorted out of the side, goods, entrance of Euston Station to avoid the welcoming party of assembled press vultures and a few Labourites. Should “Gids” Osborne think he is out from under, he should reflect on a fellow traveller who also tried to take the easy way through.
Further north, there’s York’s historic Micklegate Bar, one of the four medieval entrances through the ancient city walls. Anyone who has been to York will recognise it as the gate near the railway station, where the A59 from Harrogate and Knaresborough joins the A1036 road from Tadcaster. Most likely the Roman legions, hiking up Ermine Street, came this way. The present Micklegate (from Northumbrian Anglian micil: great or large in size, bulk, or stature — there may be a clue there) has been in situ these seven hundred and odd years. Ignorant modernists find it clearly prefaced with a height warning: 8ft 6in. Even so, this afternoon a delivery lorry attempted the impossible.
God luck to both the lorry driver and “Gids”, as they talk their separate ways out of their present embarrassments.
And the latest from London …
The broadsheet columnists whistle a certain hit from the 60’s as they conceive appropriate stories for the weekend editions.