Monthly Archives: June 2007


Spot the connection:

Clare Short


Turncoats
I
have known
(part the second)
_________

Just when it seemed safe to venture out, the BBC brings bad news:


Former Labour minister Clare Short has hinted that she may rejoin the party in Parliament as new Prime Minister Gordon Brown ushers in a “new beginning”. …

“Who knows, I might take the whip back before I leave Parliament,” she said.

As Churchill once smugly opined, it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat.

Time to send for the pest control?

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It’s dejavu all over again

Sez Yogi Berra.

But, seriously. Every good leftie should give a few minutes to the Tory bloggers over the defection of Quentin Davis. Especially one entry on Iain Dales’ Diary.

Let’s go back, in the first instance, just a few hours. Quentin Davis crossed over to the Labour benches. Good idea, Long overdue. etc. etc.

The Tory Party in Lincolnshire, and then the Thatcherite neo-Stalinist bloggers nationwide went incandescent. Surprise, surprise. Except the demand for a by-election in such circumstances is a trifle redundant.

Next Iain Dale (“Tha’s gotta knowhat’enemy’s thinkin‘!” And thank you, cousin Ralph) posted this:

Is Another Tory MP About to Jump Ship

At which point the dykes broke. The following were named in added comments as possible defectors:

Yawn, etc. etc.

Malcolm takes the view that all this leads to two obvious conclusions:

  • The civil war in the Tory Party continues, less obvious, but unabating;
  • This is horribly reminiscent of the Labour Party in the early 1980s.

At least, thank goodness, we can rely on a stable, determined party in Government. Ahem.

_________________

As for the graphic at the head of this post, you all knew it was Dali. It is called Premonition of Civil War.

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Miserable journey to and from Heathrow. Overcast and distinctly unsummery day. No lightening of the prevailing gloom, when ….

Welcome aboard, matey!

Image nicked from Conservative Home, with no apologies and absolutely no regrets.

Reminds Malcolm of the old story:
“Ted says we mustn’t gloat,” said Whitelaw, “wrong to gloat, mustn’t do it, no, no, no. Well, I can tell you, I’m gloating
like hell”.

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Malcolm tends to stand aside…

…when bandwagons roll, but here comes an exception.

The story in essence:

  • Damien Mulley runs a scrap-book blog out of Cork, mainly by lifting YouTube clips.
  • Then his bag went missing on a flight. He got nowhere with the baggage company, Sky Handling Partners, who repeatedly fed him total crap, even bald lies.
  • Mulley went ballistic, and used his blog to vent his feelings about the company and SAS (Scandinavian Airlines).
  • Someone, apparently lurking behind Sky Handlers’ former name (City Jet Handling) and IP address (62.77.175.251) signed Mulley up for gay-dating websites.
  • Mulley went public.
  • Sky Handling Partners issued a legal demand that Mulley take down the two “offending” posts.
  • Mulley put a third post, including:

I will not be taking the blog posts down.

This is my first takedown notice. I’m framing it and replacing my framed copy of Joan Burton in her pink suit with that on the shrine. Sorry Joan, the fickle tastes of bloggers. It was nice though. Really.

  • Mulley’s hits went from a few hundred to 47,000 a day (hmm … if only). It twice crashed his server.
  • The latest news is:

It seems Sky Handling Partners have called the Gardai too. They also chastised me on my use of bad language. Yes, really! How many people have ever seen a solicitor’s letter than contains the word cunt at least three times?

And it’s been 35 long years since Arkell v. Pressdram.

Malcolm is on board on this bandwagon, rooting for Mulley. By one of those coincidences that aren’t, Malcolm remembers a small flow of gutter abuse when he pointed out that there was an unhealthy and often financial relationship between the constabulary and the feral media.

As L/Cpl Jack Jones had it: “They don’t like it up ’em”.

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Filed under Dad's Army., Damien Mulley, Private Eye, Sky Handling Partners

The joy of Martin Turner
Irish Times, 21 June 2007.

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Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

That louche old beardie, Guido Fawkes, has been salivating over Pandora in the Indy alleging continued attrition of female staff in the office the Rt Hon D. Davis (heir to Alan B’Stard’s rolling acres of Haltemprice).

The count is six so far: Juliet, Marc, Kate, Katy, Gloria and Amy, with a seventh about to join the devastation.

Malcolm admits to carnal knowledge of no young Conservative-and-Unionist miss (since the 1960s anyway, when he converted her to socialism and married life). However, he does bear a related and long-standing grudge against one particular Tory candidate.

In the two elections of 1974 the (victorious) Conservative candidate for Havering-Upminster was one John Loveridge, a west country farmer and resident of Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Hampstead.

One day, Loveridge decided to show his face in the Labour heartland of Harold Hill. This still bears the marks of being a vast LCC (and then GLC) housing estate, stretching north from the A12 at Gallows Corner into stock-brick infinity. Loveridge, entering enemy territory, went mob handed.

The Labour team mustered their hordes to counter-attack. Most of this dozen or so were card-carrying, red-blooded and unreconstructed marxist-leninists who worked in the foundry at Ford’s, Dagenham.

In no time, the Loveridge contingent realised they had met their match and fled. A victory for proletarian solidarity.

Except …

Not long after, Malcolm observed a lost, lonely and tearful girl, shielding blue rosette, trotting as fast as she could away from the scene of the rout.

Being a gentleman, Malcolm approached and asked if all was well. It transpired that she was a west-country maid, who up to London had strayed, although with her nature it did not agree, recruited to assist the said Loveridge in his campaign to beat back the tide of Wilsonian revolution. She had been overlooked in the rapid debunking, and hadn’t a clue how to return to base.

It gave Malcolm enormous satisfaction to escort her back and deliver her to the Tory headquarters: the Malcolmobile being plastered with Labour stickers. Did he receive appropriate thanks? From the girl, of course: she was nice and well-bred. From the Loveridge team: nada, niente, zilch.

Pandora reminds us, on Remembrance Day, 2005, Paxman invited Davis to deny that he was “a thug, bully, an adventurer, disloyal, congenitally treacherous and winner of the Whips’ Office shit of the year award”. In other words, a true Tory.

Update:

And Guido Fawkes has more. He identifies the eighth and latest victim of Dave “Basher” Davis as Alivia Kratke (see right, in vino veritas). She was fingered as

the nameless source of the quote in the [original] piece “He makes junior staff sit separately in a dingy bunker with no natural daylight. Lunch breaks are militarily monitored. Morale’s miserable.”

Her Facebook page (since changed) was describing her as

spending her birthday with her solicitor (Thomas Mansfield employment solicitors).

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A popular view (part two)

The second piece with which Malcolm found himself in enthusiastic agreement was Giles Foden in the Review section of Saturday’s Guardian (on manly page three, no less). His argument hung on the peg of renewed interest in Rider Haggard:

King Solomon’s Mines is currently being edited for Penguin Classics by Robert Hampson in its first full scholarly edition, and She is one of six “boy’s own books” being reissued by the same publisher.

Foden continues by asking:

what is Penguin doing, bringing it out now along with five other “epic tales of adventure and bravery”, namely Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda, Erskine Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands, John Buchan’s The 39 Steps and GK Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday? And why is Headline Review bringing out its own set of boy’s tales next month, including The Lost World and The Man Who Was Thursday.

He suggests:

The simple answer is that they hope to capitalise on the success of The Dangerous Book for Boys, Conn and Hal Iggulden’s guide to scrapes and derring-do. This is obvious from the deep-dyed, embossed covers of the Penguin books, whose livery imitates the Igguldens’, which itself owes much to the way boy’s own titles by the master of the game, GA Henty, were marketed in the late 1880s and after.

He adds, quite properly:

the imperialist ethos is certainly there, more or less explicitly, in the books Penguin has chosen to remarket in this way. But their continuing appeal cannot simply be explained away as retro-imperialism

His critique then trails off into observations on Henty, Conrad and Madame Bovary. En passant, what is it about the Guardian and Bovary? A google of the two terms shows over 54,000 hits. And then there’s the delicious Gemma Bovary over and above! Foden’s conclusion was what particularly linked to Malcolm’s own thoughts:

It must be better that boys take a risk with literary adventure than numb their minds with screens and headphones. The mind-befogging potentiality of electronic media is the real doom now. That’s what must be escaped from, not into.

Malcolm would demur from that only in so far as “screens and headphones” do not always, necessarily get in the way of involvement in literature, as Sony, Microsoft and Palm seem to agree. What odds that an electronic hand-held toy would do more to up the reading quotient of school-boys than any class library? It’s the “golf-bag” effect: the steeper the entry fee, the more desirable, the glitzier the activity. Essentially, though, the conclusion holds.

Once upon a time, when the world and Malcolm were younger, there was a definable reading route for boys of his generation. It went from

  • the Hotspur and the Wizard, and (for the upwardly-mobile) the unbeatable Eagle
  • through the collected words of Captain W.E. Johns, then a shufti into
  • Paul Brickhill particularly Reach for the Sky (which would, today be sold as a “film tie-in”), Pierre Closterman’s The Big Show, and the like; which in turn could lead to
  • Nevil Shute and the early Ian Flemings.
  • And from there, as they say, the world was your lobster.

Moreover, all of this had some kind of street cred. Alongside this, it was still “normal” to read the popular classics which were handed out as school prizes and granny’s occasional gifts, and which had a counter to themselves in Woolworths. As a result, and which we can now recognise as an obvious way to discriminate “class”, the 11-plus (at least in Norfolk) had an “English Literature”, which amounted to knowing the names of these authors.

This
brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to … Rider Haggard, himself a good Norfolk boy.

Malcolm looks with some interest to see if modern editors feel it necessary to bowdlerise Haggard’s anti-semitism and racism (both, admittedly, more a social disease of his period than active malevolence). And whether the “deep-dyed embossed covers” will override the heaviness of some of the prose. As for the plotting, Malcolm will quite happily go along with that.

After all, what’s wrong with encouraging covetousness for jewels “the size of pigeon’s eggs” in Little Englanders, if they discover a love of reading in the process? At least in Haggard the sex-and-violence comes closer to the surface than with that Indiana Jones bloke.

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Filed under Giles Foden, Guardian, reading, Rider Haggard

Turncoats
I
have known
_________

Earlier today grimmerupnorth (Councillor Susan Press) had a promising contribution, posted at 05:26.

Malcolm now gratefully, even gleefully borrows his header therefrom.

The piece is still credited at bloggers4labour:

TURNCOATS I HAVE KNOWN – PART 1

In my very much younger days I was ( for a brief time) a member of Beckenham Labour Party. Not the most leftie of areas. But the Labour Party had some nice people. One of whom was NOT the London Labour MP Reg Race. Known as a firebrand left-winger, he served as MP for the north London cons…

Of this item, the grimmerupnorth blogspot now evidences nary a trace.

Similarly, grimmerupnorth ran a header Death of a racist (don’t believe Malcolm: check the link), before another crisis of conscience changed that to “Manning shuffles off the stage”.

Now, come on!

Both of grimmerupnorth’s targets came over to Malcolm as deeply unpleasant men. Manning certainly deserves none of Diogenes Laertiusde mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est crap. Enough already: others will have it in for Manning. The keyboards are already dripping with justified bile, phlegm and sputum.

But Race. Pass the sick bag, Alice.

Race served his time as a parliamentary candidate in Ruislip-Northwood in both 1974 elections. Then he was adopted for Wood Green, which he took in 1979. When Wood Green was conflated with Hornsey, Race was out of a job. He offered his services to Sedgefield Labour Party for the 1983 candidature, but that CLP chose a better man, a young, thrusting barrister. In 2001 Race blew the nomination for Chesterfield, after Tony Benn’s retirement, spectacularly on the wrong end of an 8½% swing.

While he was esconced in Wood Green, the Haringey Labour Group was riven between decent Labourites (hence Malcolm’s personal point of interest) and the loonies. The loonies were a clique, a cadre, a party-within-a-party, dragooned by Jeremy Corbyn. This lot were so into comradely solidarity they held pre-Labour Group meetings on Sunday evening, in the Middle Lane Labour Party office, to learn their hymn-sheets. Race was allegedly a regular attender. A significant element in the Corbyn faction were infiltrators from the IMG.

“Doctor” Race (he has a Phud from the University of Kent) is a master of the English language. He forwarded the discipline and polysyllabic vocabulary of sociology with his thesis Political agents and the development of bureaucraticisation and deradicalisation in the British Labour Party. Indeed.

He is also credited with being the first MP recorded using “fuck” in parliamentary debate.

But what, Malcolm wondered, provoked grimmerupnorth’s (now deleted and therefore hypothetical) piece? Could it, perchance, be Robert Watts in the Sunday Telegraph? This suggests a significant hypocrisy in “Doctor” Race, who once:

criticised Conservative MPs for profiting by the sell-off of the state-owned energy company Amersham International, alleging that one Tory had made a “killing” from the deal.

Now, however,

he has amassed a fortune working as a private contractor for the National Health Service…
Mr Race’s company, Quality Health, is one of a select band of “approved contractors” that health trusts must hire to conduct patient and staff surveys…
Quality Health, which Mr Race owns with his wife, Amanda Moore, has won contracts with 320 of the 487 NHS trusts across the UK. The company charges about £4,200 to complete each annual survey.
… the success of Quality Health has allowed Mr Race to establish a palatial home at Sutton Manor in the Derbyshire village of Sutton Scarsdale, near Chesterfield.

Ah, yes, perhaps so. So here’s one for the hymn-sheet: Matthew 7, 15-18—

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

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A popular view (part one)

One of life’s natural disputants, Malcolm secretly enjoys others agreeing with him. That is why he was warmed by two recent pieces (part 2 will follow).
____________________________

Chris Campling’s radio review in the Times gave a couple of paragraphs of a wholly-excellent piece to BBC Radio 2’s Classic Singles programme:

… cop this: “Up close by the Kansas border in the panhandle of Oklahoma there’s a place where the terrain flattens out, it’s almost like you could take a level and put it on the highway and the bubble would sit there dead centre. And it goes on that way for about 50 miles, and in the summer, through the heat shimmer, the telephone poles gradually materialise out of the distance and they seem to to rush past you and I looked up and there was a man on top of one of them.”

Thus did Jimmy Webb describe the inspiration for Wichita Lineman in a new series of Classic Singles (Radio 2, Wednesdays, 11pm). He also revealed why the song has only two verses: it was never finished. Glen Campbell asked him for a song, he sent that one as a work in progress – “and the next time I heard it was on the record”.

What first got to Malcolm about the programme was a throw-away comment about Glen Campbell’s previous hit, Galveston. The second stanza fades up and down behind:

Galveston, oh Galveston,
I still hear your sea waves crashing,
While I watch the cannon flashing;
And I clean my gun
And I dream of Galveston

while the commentary goes like this:

Galveston was really more about someone caught up in the Vietnamese war … Galveston, that was the whole war, right there.

____________________________

Not bad, eh?

Malcolm has a long-term itch to look closely at subtexts and contexts of song lyrics. This originated many, many years ago when he reacted to a Cole Porter lyric:

Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies.
On my Cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise.

I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences,
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses,
And I can’t look at hovels and I can’t stand fences:
Don’t fence me in.

Apart from smart vocabulary and semi-rhymes, this seems totally inappropriate to urban, urbane Porter. Wikipedia makes just that point:

It was Porter’s least favorite song and does not have his usual signature. Originally written for an unproduced 20th Century Fox film musical, Adios Argentina, in 1934…

Ten years later, in 1944, Warner Bros. resurrected “Don’t Fence Me In” for Roy Rogers to sing in the movie, Hollywood Canteen. Many people heard the song for the first time when Kate Smith introduced it on her 1944-10-08 radio broadcast. “Don’t Fence Me In” was also recorded by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in 1944. Crosby entered the studio on July 25,1944, without having seen or heard the song. Within 30 minutes he and the Andrews Sisters had made the recording, which later sold over a million copies and topped the Billboard charts for 8 weeks in 1944-45.

Put that alongside the other popular hits: say, Crosby in 1944 doing Bruce Jenkins:

Oh, I’m packing my grip
And I’m leaving today
‘Cause I’m taking a trip
California way.
I’m going to settle down and never more roam
And make the San Fernando Valley my home.

The question is latent: why in 1944-5 did these achieve such resonance? The answer, for anyone not smart enough to be ahead of Malcolm, is the date. It is safe to assume that the GIs yomping across northern Europe, or surviving the suicide of Pacific island hopping, formed one common resolution: not to return to industrial jobs in grim northern cities or to labouring on country farms. They had seen the bright lights and big cities and knew what they wanted, and where they were headed. That also is the significance of Bobby Troup’s iconic (Get Your kicks on) Route 66 in 1946:

Now you go through St. Louis; Joplin, Missouri;
Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty.
You’ll see Amarillo; Gallup, New Mexico;
Flagstaff, Arizona —don’t forget Winona—;
Kingman; Barstow; San Bernadino.

Won’t you get hip to this kindly tip
When you make that California trip?
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-six.

With free publicity like that, it’s not surprising how fast the Los Angeles region expanded.

In the wider context, someone, somewhere needs to do a deep appreciation of how catastrophic events (the Second World War, Korea, Kennedy in Dallas, Vietnam, 9.11) impact on the lives, loves and culture of the (allegedly always) “apolitical” upcoming generation. It simply ain’t like that, y’know: these things leave scars.

There are all kinds of significances in popular culture. Malcolm’s six decades have given him one thing: perspective. We need to rescue this stuff from the wordy, woolly, woozy sociologists, and re-assert some sense of social history.

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Malcolm repays a small debt

A while back (9th January), Malcolm grabbed the wrong end of the stick over the sources for Cathal O’Shannon’s RTÉ programme on Ireland’s Nazis. A further lesson in the dangers of taking journos on trust.

The up-side was a correspondence with Dan Leach, who had been sweating blood on a PhD thesis at the University of Melbourne. Leach has now scored with an article in the new (May/June) issue of History Ireland:

Irish post-war asylum:Nazi sympathy, pan-Celticism or raisons d’etat?
Daniel Leach takes issue with some of the conclusions of Ireland’s Nazis, the two-part documentary broadcast on RTÉ 1 in January 2007 and reviewed in the March/April issue of History Ireland.



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