Monthly Archives: May 2009

Arms and the Man

Ok, stop me if you’ve heard this one, says Malcolm.


Dilemmas of our Time, number 93.

Malcolm’s youngest daughter, the afore-mentioned pert young piece, has a friend. The friend is now a subaltern at an (unidentified) Army base.

Friend and pert young piece apparently keep in touch.

Friend was complaining to pert young piece that he spent too much of his time delivering squaddies to magistrates’ courts for the usual (driving without insurance; drunk and disorderly …)

And then …

One of the miscreants missed a Court appearance.

The Boys  (and, in these egalitarian days, conceivably the Girls) in Blue were deputed to come to the Base, arrest the defaulter, and deliver him to Court prontissimo.

Except …

When they arrived, said defaulter was otherwise occupied.

He was on guard duty. With an exposed weapon.

And so …

The standing instruction to Police Officers, faced with suspect/arrestee in possession of weaponry, is to call out the Armed Response team.

Apparently, the stand-off between Army and Civil Power was somehow avoided.

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Filed under crime

Apple for the teacher

Cheering to see that Nich Starling, the Norfolk Blogger, has not retired from the

Good, too, to see him coming to terms with the real world and going for the best: he has acquired an iPod Nano.

Inevitably, as with all MicroSerfs, he has to quibble:

My problem is the iTunes software. I am at a loss as to why some parts of it are counter intuitive ? Why did it refuse to recognise my iPod all afternoon until I went through several lengthy procedures in order to reset parts of the system until it again recognised my iPod ? It’s not a great problem overall for me to work out a way around some of the problems. But for anyone not PC savvy, it would have been a nightmare and Apple’s support both in terms of printed instructions and web support is not that impressive.

That’s the trouble: the “PC savvy” can never believe that the  Mac and iWorks and iLife combo can be s-o-o straightforward. Such is the digitally-retarded fate of those accustomed to the over-complex, rather than the Occam’s Razor of computing life.

It reminds Malcolm of the legend:

Rich Daddy knew the psychological make-up of his twin children.

On Christmas Eve he deposited in one bedroom a cubic metre of horse manure. In the other, a saddle and all the associated tack.

On Christmas morning he found one child looking gloomily at the saddle and tack: there had to be a catch in it. Meanwhile, the other twin was chucking the manure all round the bedroom, whooping, “With all this shit, there’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere!”.

As for poor Nich’s need for a hand to hold, one day, someday, Norwich may get its own, its very own Apple Store. And in that Apple Store he will find those estimable Geniuses:

Meanwhile, search engines exist. Properly addressed, they lead to a wealth of experience and advice, including the workings of Macs and iPods.  Much of this info is as good as the “official” version, and often includes the bits the “officials” aren’t allowed to confide in you.

Any way, nice to see you back in form, Nich.

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Filed under blogging, Mac, Norfolk

Confirmation and contradiction

No sooner did Malcolm sign off his previous post than he found it confirmed, yet negated.

First, Malcolm continues to marvel at the magnificent high-wire act (look! no safety net!) Cameron is providing. Above all, it is the willingness to dispense guilt and scorn that is breath-taking. And all with total disregard of past loyalties and future need for support.

Does he hope to maintain his Leadership by unstinting threats and oppressions?

Witness: with one hand he floors Anthony Steen:

He said the Totnes MP – who has said he is standing down at the next election – was on a final warning.
“I gave him a very clear instruction after that interview – one more squeak like that and he will have the whip taken away from him so fast his feet won’t touch the ground,” Mr Cameron told BBC Radio 4’s the World at One.
“It was a completely unacceptable interview. It was a completely unacceptable thing to say. He’s announced his retirement from Parliament.”

No fear from our hero of the nano-second: no metaphor goes unmixed when the mood is on him!

Then, with the other equal hand, he bitch-slaps “Mad Nads” Dorries:

Nadine Dorries, the Tory backbencher, will be publicly reprimanded today by David Cameron after she claimed that MPs were victims of a “McCarthy-style witch-hunt” over their expenses…

Hours after Ms Dorries made the remarks, Mr Cameron ordered a public statement that would distance the Tory party from the backbencher, insisting that her comments were her own and did not represent those of the Conservative Party.

According to one Tory source, party officials have had conversations with Ms Dorries on more than one occasion to rebuke her for her “increasing tendency to make wild and eccentric statements”.

And one further thing …

Is Malcolm alone in noticing curious symbiosis between “Mad Nads” and Iain Dale? Not only do they attend sloppy musicals together, and exchange late-night sweet-nothings, they have a habit of (for want of a more precise term) “thinking” alike.

Apart from the “former nurse” having a hysterical fit about potential suicides, Norries’s adopted the Nuremberg defence — “they made me do it”:

… she claimed that the £24,222-a-year additional costs allowance (ACA) – at the centre of the expenses scandal disclosed over the last 15 days by The Telegraph – has “always been known and has always been counted as part of an MP’s salary”.

“This is always done quietly,” she admitted, before suggesting that it did not even matter what the ACA money – the use of which has caused so much public anger in the wake of the Telegraph disclosures – was spent on.

“It has always been the way it has been done and everyone knows that,” she said.

“The ACA was a lump sum of money… MPs were told to use that money because it wasn’t expenses, it was an allowance in lieu of having pay rises.

“Actually what it was spent on is possibly even regardless because the principle is that lump sum of money, particularly for the old guard of MPs, we told that’s your due.”

When Malcolm proposed his Third Law, he obviously overlooked Tories, like Mad Nads, who combine the dim and the nasty.

Meanwhile, in a posting today (@ 2:49 PM) we have Dale conveniently discovering an extended quotation from that great political thinker and guru on matters constitutional, Gyles Brandreth.

This, to Dale’s self-satisfaction, proves that it’s all the fault of the Fees Office, in:

that they have helped MPs take full advantage of the system, along with the party whips.

Which seems as “bald” an argument as Dale’s pate was on College Green yesterday.

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Filed under blogging, broken society, Conservative family values, David Cameron, Iain Dale, Tories.

Malcolm’s third Law …

The first two Laws are not Malcolm’s:

  • When in a hole, stop digging.
  • All the best Tory scandals involve sex; and all the best Labour ones involve money.

The first is, of course, Denis Healey’s famous Law of Holes. If only a lot of current MPs, faced with a TV news camera or a reporter’s dictaphone, had followed it, life of late would have been much duller (vide infra).

It should have a corollary:

  • If you have nothing to say, say no more than that.

Which is why Malcolm has had nothing to offer on the great madness that is gripping Britain, and causing ripples of mirth around the English-speaking world (surely these revelations and the accompanying apologias do not readily translate).

Quite when and by whom the second Law was originally pronounced escapes Malcolm. It might well have been those dear lost days when the Daily Telegraph filled its pages (and escaped the Irish censors) with the titillating details of the Profumo affair and its sub-plots. Present events seem to disprove this Law’s application, unless (oh, please! please!) it transpires that some MP has been providing for his/her bit-on-the-side on “expenses”.

All that apart, we now come to:

Malcolm’s third Law of British politics:

  • Nice Tories are not bright; and bright Tories are not nice.

The prime examples in the former category have to be Sir Peter Viggers, of duck-house fame, and Bill Wiggin.

Viggers has been a fixture in the Commons for 35 years. In all that time he rose to ministerial office, as a bag-carrier (the Industry port-folio for Northern Ireland) over just a few months in Thatcher’s last administration.

Bill Wiggin … well, what’s to say?

Paul Waugh in the London Evening Standard reckons:

Not for nothing is Bill Wiggin known among colleagues as “Bungalow Bill”* (he’s not got a lot upstairs, geddit?).
Wiggin’s main defence today seems to be that he blundered in signing the wrong form and declaring which was his ‘second home’. He had better be right, because David Cameron stuck his neck out today in suggesting it was “an honest mistake” (though he warned if it was shown to be anything else, Wiggin would be ‘out of the door’ like the others).
The Tory whip was out and about making his case on the Today prog, BBC News and Sky News. Yet for my money the most hilarious exchanges were on Sky.
Eamonn Holmes: “You don’t look like the sharpest tool in the box, do you?”
Wiggin: “Yes, I have to hold my hand up.”
Eamonn Holmes: “Not so much ‘bungalow bill’ as ‘bungling bill’?”
Wiggin: “Yes, Eamonn”.
FOOTNOTE: The nickname stems from another Bill Wiggin, a businessman who ‘squired’ (copyright, the Daily Mail) actress Joan Collins way back in the 80s. He was a bit thick.

Nice to see that Waugh remembered “Bungalow Bill” Wiggins (notice the plural form), celebrated by the Daily Mail as:

a handsome, charming, smiley man named Bill Wiggins. Joan took one look at him and went weak at the knees.

He took one look at her, recognised her instantly and said wickedly: “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch your name.” She giggled, and kept on giggling. By the end of the meal she was hooked.

To make their meeting even more perfect, she discovered that his friends called him “Bungalow” Bill because – so they joked – he had nothing much up top but a hell of a lot down below.

If we believe the leaked e-mails of Des Swayne (Cameron’s PPS), way back in July 2006, Wiggin was known among the Tory higher echelon as “Mince-head”.

But, as they said of the party-going mushroom, a fungi to be with.

And the Tory bright guys?

Not nice. Not cuddly.

As the Great British Public will come to realise, as those Tories recently thrown to the wolves already have done, about David Cameron. To think it was said (perhaps this should be the Fourth Law) that loyalty was the Tory Party’s secret weapon.

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Filed under Britain, Conservative family values, Conservative Party policy., David Cameron, foot and mouth disease, Quotations, Tories.

Iain Dale’s libels and lies — Official

Tom Watson MP is too much of an honourable gentleman. So Malcolm does it gladly with that headline above.

Here’s the skinny:

Associated Newspapers Limited, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mail, apologised today to Tom Watson MP in a Statement in Open Court read before Mr Justice Eady.

Mr Watson complained of an article by Iain Dale, headed “Smears, glowering henchmen-like the Nixon White House” published in the Mail on Sunday on 12 April 2009…

Associated Newspapers Limited now accepts that these allegations are entirely untrue…

Associated Newspapers Limited has unreservedly withdrawn the allegations, apologised to Mr Watson for the distress the article caused him and his family and has joined in the reading of the Statement in Open Court today. In addition, Associated Newspapers Limited has agreed to pay Mr Watson substantial damages, together with his legal costs.

Now, here’s another thing:

Sorry Seems to be [the] Hardest Word

— From headline, Iain Dale’s Diary, 13th April, 10.05 pm.

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Filed under Conservative family values, Iain Dale, Labour Party, sleaze., Tom Watson MP

Wirtschaftswunder? Now, I wonder …

It’s time to notice the green shoots of recovery.


Today the £ closed at €1.13980. That’s above its mid-point over the last twelve months.


The continuing improvement of sterling against the dollar is even more impressive:



Even the IMF, who (according to David Cameron’s Tories) were already booking tickets to come and inspect the books before the bankruptcy petition had to be filed, are cooing gently:

The UK government response to the global financial crisis has been “bold and wide-ranging,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.
It added that “aggressive action” by the government succeeded in containing the crisis and avoiding a breakdown.


Robert Lindsay, for the Murdoch Times, is noticing a change in the wind:

Sterling behaved like England’s cricketers — knocking the opposition for six — as it rose to its highest level against the dollar in five months. The knock-on effect was that London financial and mining stocks got back on their feet.

And that means the take it orf yer ‘ands cheap, guv? spivs are beginning  to suggest re-privatising the nationalised bank assets. Meanwhile,

Gilt futures ended in the red but managed to recoup some losses after softer than expected inflation data …

which means the cost of Government borrowing is slipping. Bad news for some, but only for some.

No wonder David Cameron and the Tories want to talk about anything, everything, other than the Government’s economic achievements.

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Filed under Alistair Darling, Conservative Party policy., economy, Labour Party, leftist politics., Uncategorized

O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!

Aristotle defined the tragic hero on these lines:

  • The tragic hero is a character of nobility and greatness.  He occupies  a “high” status position and show nobility and virtue as part of his innate character.
  • Though the tragic hero is great, he is not perfect.  He is one whom we ordinary souls can recognise as one of us, risen to a higher level of distinction and importance.
  • When the hero falls, the cause must be partially his own fault, the consequence of an action of free will, not accident or villainy or malignant fate.  His tragedy usually follows an error of judgment or a character flaw.

Today, we saw such a tragic fall.

Michael Martin did not deserve the treatment he has received.

He may not, in reflection, have deserved the high office of Speaker.

He was put there by the will of the back-benches, who sought to frustrate the will of the front benches to impose on them, and on the House, a “name”, a celebrity MP.

He was there as the consequence of the peasants revolting; but he was deposed by the frustrations and spite (yes, and an admixture of snobbery) of those who seek to derail the inevitable fall-out of folly and excess across the whole House.

Ridding themselves of Speaker Martin will not rescue

those who have been far more culpable, and less noble than he.

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Filed under Conservative family values, equality, Labour Party, leftist politics., prejudice, Tories.