I know, I know.Hotter

Alongside my gripe about cleaners guaranteed to do for “99.9% of known germs” (it’s the 0.1% that worry me), I have a new grief.

It’s this advertisement for Hotter shoes.

I know what it is intended to mean, but …


Leave a comment

Filed under advertising.

Sunday with rainbows

Tribe Redfellow swanned across a fair bit of North Yorkshire yesterday.

This is not, of itself, a matter of any note.

We were accompanied, to the the north by a persistent rainbow — one of the best I have seen for a long while. Oddly, this was against the background of a clear blue sky and no sign of nearby rain. That was worth noting, as I here do.

So, too, were the “autumn tints”. Thanks to a very fine, and dry, and warm September, leaf-fall seems late this year. North Yorkshire may lack the crowd-appeal of all those New England maples, but it’s worth the trip.

I have little to say in favour of the lime tree. For much of the year it weeps sticky goo onto your car. Come this time of year, the leaves make the limestone payments of York slimy and — at worst — treacherous.

Horse chestnuts, having conkered, are better when they dump crisp piles of fingered leaves. On the other hand, a motor-bike passage, at speed, under fruiting horse-chestnuts can be an experience. A nut falling at 32 feet per second per second, impacting a crash helmet travelling at sixty-mph plus, is as unsettling as a wasp inside your half-unzipped-for-summer leather jacket. I’ve had both.

Then there was the sight, yesterday, of silver birches silhouetted against darker foliage, almost ghost trees in the low sunlight.

The sight of sights, though, is the solitary mature oak, turning to rust.

Time for some suggestive musical accompaniment?

 Which brings me to a word.

There is a Greek noun, ἔκδυσις, “a slipping out, an escape”, which gave the mid-Victorian biologists a fancy and impressive technical term. The OED renders ecdysis as:

The action of stripping or casting off, esp. of slough or dead skin in serpents and caterpillars, or of the chitinous integument in Crustacea. Also concr. that which is cast off, slough.

I’m not strong on chitinous integuments, but I reckon we ordinary mortals might reach for “moulting” as a rough and graspable equivalent.

Then, in 1940, H.L.Mencken, writing to supplement his The American Language,  proposed a metaphorical usage:

It might be a good idea to relate strip-teasing in some way … to the associated zoölogical phenomenon of molting … A resort to the scientific name for molting, which is ecdysis, produces both ecdysist and ecdysiast.

Of all the trees in all the woods in all the world, the Great English Oak is the supreme silvanian ecdysiast.



Leave a comment

Filed under Britain, Music, Oxford English Dictionary, York, Yorkshire

Immigration policy, explicated

Let’s start from an assumption: given a list of “concerns”, the Great British Public put “immigration” about equal with the “economy” as the most important issues facing the country at this time.

Phrase the same issue in personal terms, as the most important issues facing you and your family, and we have a completely different result: “health”, “economy” and “pensions” take priority. “Immigration” is on a par with “tax”.

YouGov, by using a “tick three boxes” approach, and prompting from a 13-point set list, are almost certainly distorting both those hierarchies.

We have instantly defined the different approaches of the two main parties: the Tories are reading from the “national” list, but Labour stick to the familial one.

Another assumption from those YouGov figures: “immigration” is no more potent a concern today than it was four years ago.

That, in itself, doesn’t explain the mushroom growth of the UKIP tendency over the same time-span.

It’s worth  balancing “Europe”, as a separate issue, against “immigration”  in those YouGov assertions (they are, after all, no more than “constructs” achieved by statistical machination). As one rises, the other seems to decline. My assumption is some kind of parallelism is going on here.

Cue Steve Bell:

Steve Bell 17.10.14

Woo! I’d guess you need to be of a certain age fully to appreciate that. Bell was obviously revisiting the Guardian’s story effort just the day before:


Harold Wilson’s “parliamentary leper” slogan lingered: Tory MPs were observed to be reticent in sitting next to Griffiths, even when he was re-treaded in Portsmouth North.

Even now, decent types (of all respectable parties, and none) have problems “defining” an approach to immigration.

Here goes:

I’d suggest there are two main types of immigration — effectively, the bad and exploitative versus the worthy and contributory.

Here I have a personal, even subjective, approach.

Bad immigration

It says in my (highly-subjective) genealogy that at least three of my maternal ancestors waded ashore, unannounced and undocumented, at Pevensey. They were dead-set on subverting the whole English social structure, exploiting the whole welfare and economic systems of Good King Harald. They arrived on 28th September, 1066.

They, and their direct line, didn’t do too badly. A whole host of other descendants of those three occupy positions of respect, power — and even royalty — to this very day. Sadly — no, happily — not myself, thanks to the odd lucky illegitimacy along the generations.

Worthy immigration

Meanwhile, across the distaff side of the matrimonial bed, I am constantly reminded of decency.

Her lot (or, at least a significant line thereof) arrived in the County Down around 1700. They were political and religious refugees from France, via the Low Countries. We call them Huguenots, perhaps from some assumption over the Swiss Besançon Hugues, who was a prime mover of the protestant reformation in Geneva. Or, more likely, because they had debunked from France after the Edict of Nantes, and had to share multi-occupation tenements as Huisgenoten in Flanders.

Anyway, in 1697, Louis Crommelin was set by the Earl of Galway (no Irishman he: this was Pierre de Ruvigny, lately  re-dignified by William of Orange) to establish a Royal Linen Manufacture in occupied east Ulster. There was already Nicholas Dupin, another Huguenot, who had arrived via Scotland around 1690, producing linen for the London market. Seeing the score, Crommelin hit on Lisburn and imported 120 Huguenot families into the town.

Thus was born an entire new industry, whose products still sell to the unwary at airport outlets and the like, even when “Made in Ireland” means “made in China”.

Two main types of immigration

What I am suggesting here is we can go with importing large numbers of the second type of immigrants. We can do without the other sort.

You’ll find the good sort tiling your roof, fixing your plumbing, delivering your purchases, seeing to your next round of drinks, doing every kind of useful and productive stuff.

You’ll find the latter buying up Knightsbridge, and appearing in the gossip columns (and the divorce courts).


Leave a comment

Filed under Conservative family values, Conservative Party policy., History, Ireland, UKIP

The next ten words

The West Wing, series 4, episode 6, Game on:

President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet:

There it is. That’s the ten word answer my staff’s been looking for for two weeks. There it is. Ten-word answers can kill you in political campaigns. They’re the tip of the sword. Here’s my question: What are the next ten words of your answer? Your taxes are too high? So are mine. Give me the next ten words. How are we going to do it? Give me ten after that, I’ll drop out of the race right now. Every once in a while… every once in a while, there’s a day with an absolute right and an absolute wrong, but those days almost always include body counts. Other than that, there aren’t very many unnuanced moments in leading a country that’s way too big for ten words.

Here’s Bob Neill, the senescent Tory MP for Bromley & Chislehurst doing his dirty dozen:

My [Private Member's] Bill [for an EU referendum] is not about whether, at the end of the day, we should stay in the EU or leave. That is exactly why David Cameron is right to insist that we seek a proper re-negotiation of the terms of our membership first, and then put what is on offer to the British people in a vote.

Got that?

The essence is those ten words:

 not about … we should stay in the EU or leave.

Forgive me for being familiar, Bob. We were once on first-name terms back in Havering, when you were junior under-strapper, substitute voice-mail for John Loveridge.

So what is it about, Bob?

  • You apparently agree there should be a proper re-negotiation of the terms of our [EU] membership before putting the issue to a referendum.

OK, Bob. As a barrister you might be aware of the law’s delays. Yet you assume there would be a “result” negotiating with the 26 other nations of the EU between the hypothetical enstoolment of a new Tory government in mid-May 2015 and Cameron’s promised 2017 referendum.

Do tell us, Bob, when the EU has ever moved that quickly.

  • You seem to imply the Referendum is not about continued membership of the EU. It’s more about the conditions of membership:

many of my constituents work in the City of London, the global leader in financial services, so a genuine free market in that industry alone (which we do not yet have – just try getting into the German insurance market as a UK company) is an imperative. Any new relationship with our partners must reflect that reality. But it needs a fresh public endorsement …

Well, Bob, you and I know full well that the City of London would spawn kittens in droves if #Brexit was imminent.

Yet, when you won (just: majority 633) your 2006 by-election in one of those rock-safe suburban Tory seats, Farridge for the Kippers was still a whimper of his later swagger. He ran third, well behind the Lib Dems.

Now there’s up to a third of the 2010 vote up for grabs: add the Lib Dem defectors and the “word-in-the-street” types to the essentially racist elements. And the Kippers are on the march: they took Cray Valley Ward and only the BNP vote-splitters stopped them taking Mottingham in the Borough Elections.

We could continue in this vein, but — yes, Bob — You’ve got a real fight on.

What are your next ten words, Bob? And the ten after them?

Are you a serious “better-off-outer”, or are you just playing footsie with the weirdoes, the fruit-cakes, and the plain nasties?

And you used to be such a nice young man.

Leave a comment

Filed under Conservative family values, Daily Telegraph, Elections, EU referendum, London, Tories., UKIP

The greasy mitts of Murdoch

Alternatively: isn’t “tradition” a wonderfully-elastic concept?

Page 3+36 of today’s Times:

Times, page 39The caption reads:

Fair maiden Germans in traditional costumes parade through Munich at the start of Oktoberfest, a giant funfair and beer festival that attracts six million people.

For reasons of decency and decorum — not to mention a problem with word-use — that image seems not to have made it to the web edition.


Leave a comment

Filed under Murdoch, sleaze., Times

The brick of aspiration

Saw this (H/T Twitter) , and had a memory:



The school was having an extension built.

The reinforced glazing (yes: it was that sort of area) [❉]  had been installed, but there were still loose bricks about the site.

One evening a passing youth wanted to show his enthusiasm for state-financed education. He took a sand-faced fletton, as thus —


and chucked it at one of the windows.

Sadly, the youth must have missed the class on “angle of incidence” equals “angle of reflection”.


Our hero was straight-on to his target.

The window promptly pinged the fletton straight back.

It laid him out.

The real laugh was when the youth’s aggrieved mother tried to sue.

I can’t help wondering if that’s not a parable for the whole “Free School” business.


[❉] This is a well-constructed narrative. And here we see an example of “fore-shadowing”.

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, Conservative Party policy., education, human waste, schools, social class

Real auld acquaintance

Look what I’ve just found!

Simplex, cover

All the way from 1955. Still usable. Batteries not required.

Pity I don’t remember much of it.

Leave a comment

Filed under education, schools