Monthly Archives: October 2011

Bug-eyed monstrosity

Around the end of the First World War the sway of the British Empire extended over 13,010,000 square miles of land, more than a fifth of the Earth’s surface and of its population. The guys and girls of Sinn Féin (among others) were doing something about reducing that grasp.

To mark the dominion over palm and pine the King-Emperor George V instituted the Order of the British Empire, including the B.E.M.:

the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service (usually known as the British Empire Medal) was awarded in similar circumstances as the lower classes of the Order of the British Empire, but usually to people below management or professional level. In the uniformed services, it was awarded to non-commissioned officers of the armed forces, officers below superintendent rank in the police, and personnel below divisional officer level in the fire services.

Just the thing to mark the retirement of the long-serving bar steward at your local Conservative Club.

Today there is no “British Empire”. There remain fourteen “British Overseas Territories“: they amount to less than 740 square miles, plus the Falklands and South Georgia, and a nebulous claim to swathes of the Antarctic ice-cap. Total population: around a quarter of a million, excluding the Falklands sheep and lots of penguins — rather less than Wolverhampton, a few more than Aberdeen (though such places are notably and sadly deficient in penguins).

Eight of the fourteen are so speck-like they do not even rate a position in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings. Surely the 3,000 Falkland Islanders could give the 4,655 of Monserrat a game?

Still, we have joyous news:

A medal for local heroes that was scrapped nearly 20 years ago as part of a bid to make the honours system “classless” is to be revived, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.

The British Empire Medal (BEM) will be awarded again from next year to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee…

Mr Cameron said: “I am delighted that we are going to start using the British Empire Medal again.

“The medal will be handed out in recognition of the dedication and hard work so many provide to their communities.”


Just when it seems we have run out of eccentric anachronisms, there is this:

The revived honour will again be bestowed on recipients by the lords lieutenant.

However, those awarded the BEM will be entitled to attend a Buckingham Palace garden party with others whose work has been recognised.

How naice to go to Buck House for a torrential summer rain-storm and recognise others whose work has been rcognised.

Great Galloping Panjandrums!

Now Malcolm is prepared to wager a small amount that the recognition factor for the local lord lieutenant ranks even lower than for MPs and local councillors. So, he had to look it up:

Lord-Lieutenants are responsible for the organisation of all official Royal visits to their county.

On the day of an engagement they escort the Royal visitor around the different locations – not simply The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, but any member of the Royal Family.

Lord-Lieutenants also carry out other duties in their county, such as the presentation of decorations (where the recipient is unable to attend an Investiture), The Queen’s Awards for Export and Technology, and Queen’s Scout and Queen’s Guide Awards.

Lord-Lieutenants are also responsible for ensuring that The Queen’s Private Office is kept informed about local issues relating to their area, particularly when a Royal visit is being planned.

Malcolm is lodging a complaint that the BBC website was guilty of lèse-majesté by failing to give the Lord-Lieutenants their proper capital letters and plural form.

Web-footed note

To complete a morning that out-reached the merely bizarre, Malcolm discovered that the British Antarctic Territory (population >50, and all transients) has its own coat of arms, complete with stately penguin. Irresistible, and so given recognition above.

However, BAT (these acronyms are telling us something) does not feature on the FIFA list either.

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Filed under BBC, Britain, broken society, David Cameron, History, Literature, Penguins, reading, Tories., underclass, working class

For all sorts of reasons …

the following quotation gives an old member of the Irish Labour Party (Dublin, North Central branch) reason to be satisfied: —

Arriving at Dublin Castle shortly before 9pm, Mr Higgins said he was “very happy with the vote and the support”.

Here’s to you, Mr President.

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Filed under Dublin., Elections, Ireland, Irish Labour, Irish politics

One last thing …

At the end of a long,and rather tiresome day, Malcolm finally got to the Irish Times property porn.

That is captioned:

… once the home of Iseult Gonne and Francis Stuart.

By definition, then, a nest of Nazi sympathisers — and, by any usual definition, traitors to Ireland.

Malcolm may one day blog again the extraordinary history of Maud Gonne MacBride and her very strange daughter — and that very strange daughter’s very odd husband.

For the time being, let it be noted that Larragh Castle (in fact, as the description and text of that Irish Times piece makes clear, no more than a tarted-up armed camp, a barracks, and a gaol) occupies a small, and disreputable place in modern Irish history.

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Filed under Ireland, Irish Times, WB Yeats, World War 2

A suppurating pustule …

… but how to staunch him?

No, you really didn’t need to ask, did you?

Yes, you’re quite correct. We speak of Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, here.

The London Evening Standard, which under the editorship of Veronica Wadley (an acolyte of the equally-venomous Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail) was widely described as the Evening Boris, front pages Johnson on the St Paul’s encampment:

On a day of high drama:

Boris Johnson called for new laws to prevent tent cities “erupting like boils” across London in the wake of the St Paul’s protest, telling the activists: “In the name of God and Mammon, go.”

Ooops! There goes the First Commandment (Exodus 20):

 3Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

 4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

 5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

 6And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

A bit of Spenser for starters

There is an essay to be written (and probably has been) evidencing the sheer, inexplicable banality of that BoJo remark  — even apart from the obvious St Matthew quotation. Has, for one example, BoJo’s expensive education introduced him to Edward Spenser’s description of “the Cave of Mammon” in The Farie Queene? —

At last he came unto a gloomy glade
Cover’d with boughs and shrubs from heavens light,
Whereas he sitting foundin secret shade
An uncouth, salvage and uncivile wight,
Of grisly hew and fowle ill-favour’d sight;
His face with smoke was tand and eies were bleard,
His head and beard with sout were ill bedight,
His cole-blacke hands did seem to have ben seard
In smythes fire-spitting forge, and nayles like clawes appeard …

And round him lay on every side
Great heapes of gold that never could be spent;
Of which some werer ude owre, not purifide,
Of Mulciber’s devouring element;
Some others were new driven, and distent
Into great ingowes and to wedges square;
Some in round plates withouten moniment;
But most were stampt, and in their metal bare
The antique shapes of kings and kesars straung and rare …

BoJo might not spot the connection, but Upton Sinclair, including that in his 1915 anthology, The Cry for Justice, did.

Here’s counting

So, there’s the First Commandment to go with BoJo’s similar disregard for;

  • the Third (You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain) — as in the instance above;
  • the Fourth (Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy) — what was BoJo doing, putting himself around at Tory Conference after Conference, and elsewhere on a regular basis?;
  • the Seventh (You shall not commit adultery) — how many times are we up to now?
  • the Eighth (You shall not steal) — consider all those re-brandings (e.g. “Boris Bikes”) of Ken Livingstone initiatives;
  • the Ninth (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour) — remembering that BoJo was booted from Michael Howard’s Shadow Cabinet not for leg-over stuff, but for lying about it;
  • the Tenth (You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s) — well, Downing Street reckon BoJo has his eye set on Dave’s pad, for a start.
More Standard bearing

Let’s go back to that Evening Standard piece for more gems:

In an appeal to the activists today, the Mayor said: “In the name of God and Mammon, go. For the good of the economy and the wellbeing of the Church. London needs new by-laws, proper ground rules to stop people being able to camp anywhere without being moved on.”

He also hinted that City of London Police may remove empty tents from the site as they are considered to be “abandoned property”.

A City of London Police spokesman said he “could not comment on what our tactics are”.

The Mayor added: “We are in discussion with the authorities to stop these encampments erupting like boils across the city. It is very important for London.”

There are two obvious bits of BoJo imperialism there.

First of all, St Paul’s is firmly inside the City of London:

Bojo is the second  “Mayor of London” (established 2000). He most definitely is not “Lord Mayor of London” (they go back to 1189, and the present one is number 683).

BoJo is therefore “off the piste” if he is pontificating about doings which are properly under the control of the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London.

Then there is his helpful advice to the City of London Police. That force is not, most definitely, under his control. Furthermore, relations between the City Police and the Metropolitan Constabulary are not historically always amiable, or even diplomatic. One can sense a tightness of mouth from that City of London Police spokesman.

One thing is for certain: when BoJo talks of a “boil” paining London, we know of whom he speaks.


Filed under banking, Boris Johnson, broken society, Daily Mail, David Cameron, History, Literature, London, politics, Quotations, Religious division, Tories.

Who funds St Paul’s?

Supporting what, arguably, is London’s finest building is commendable. And tax-deductable.

Now look at the list of the corporate sponsors and wonder.

Wonder, in particular, what this means, decoded:

We are extremely proud of the close partnerships we have forged and continue to nurture with our corporate neighbours. There are several ways in which your company can benefit by joining one of our member schemes.

And the Canon Giles Fraser Facebook page moves above 600 supporters.

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Filed under banking, Conservative family values, London, Religious division

The short arm of the law

Previously Malcolm was noting his favourite Tories

  • those who go with the grain to confirm our worst prejudices,


  • those who are recognisably human.

Matthew Parris, who has previously appeared on Malcolm’s check-list of all-round good eggs, is definitely among the latter. In his My Week column for today’s Times, he has this instructive anecdote:

In my London flat the phone rings. It’s from (says the Asian-sounding lady) the Office of Fair Trading. I’m due £1,200 compensation for mis-sold insurance … (I smell a rat; she sounds as if she’s at a railway station) … Please may a courier bring the cheque around this afternoon?

(I decide to play along …) He’ll be called Alex. Oh and there will be VAT of£100 payable, so will I go down to the nearest Ukash agent  — it’s Costcutter on the Commercial Road, she tells me — and buy a voucher, which I will not have to give to Alex, only show him its number to prove that I have it.  I won’t have to release the cash, she says, untilI’ve successfully cashed the “OFT” cheque.

I decide to follow through and promise to get the voucher. She says that she’ll call again later to check that everything’s on track, and gives me her phone number. I ring off and call the new police number for non-emergencies in London, 101.

Rather to my surprise, someone answers. I explain all. “Don’t pay anybody anything,” she says. Obviously, I say, I hadn’t planned to; but I’ve called to help the Met Police to catch these fraudsters. Alex is coming at 4pm. A police officer could lurk in the hall and collect evidence.

Oh, she says, she’ll pass on my suggestion, but she doubts that this would be appropriate because “no crime has been committed so far”.

This is baloney  — there’s good cause to believe that a conspiracy to commit a crime may be under way — but I don’t bother to argue and accept her assurance that someone will call back if further help is required. Nobody does. When the “OFT” phones again, as promised, I call the whole thing off.

I was left feeling vaguely unreassured. It’s possible that the Met were following this up already, but I don’t think that the 101 lady knew if they were. What she knew was that the police aren’t very interested in this kind of thing. Why not?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

Shortly after Malcolm read that, the telephone rings at Redfellow Hovel. The Lady in Malcolm’s Life answers it.

A helpful soul (who knows names) wishes to tell her there is something wrong with the Windows on her computer, and would dearly — doubtless, indeed — like to help.

This is curious because all four computers in regular use at Redfellow Hovel run MacOs. The Lady doesn’t give that info, merely that she doesn’t use Windows — without adding, “… nor would, this side of Hell freezing over”.

Nice try, but no cigar.

Anyway, Matthew Parris’s “OFT” episode reminds Malcolm that some time back he bought fuel at a petrol station (which has since closed) in Palmer’s Green.

The person before him queuing to pay had a slight kerfuffle over ther transaction: somehow the bill had come up £20 in excess. Oh,dear, I’ll correct that, madam.

There was a small flurry out-of-sight below the counter line-of-sight and the remedy was made.

Malcolm felt dubious,but had no alternative in his wallet except a cash-card. And so, back on the road.

A day or so later the joint account was £721.52 adrift. The debit had been made by a seedy Turkish restaurant in Stoke Newington. At 2AM in the morning.

The bank was as helpful as they could be, but the debit would remain outstanding until the slip had been seen — this being before the days of chip-and-pin. Which makes everything s-o-o-o secure. Ahem!

Oh, and had the presumed “theft” been reported?

Malcolm therefore was off, pronto, to the local Nick, anxious to “lay evidence”.

No such luck. The Boys in Blue could not do a thing without the O.K. on  form which would be supplied from the bank.

That form took two weeks to arrive.

Then back with it to the Nick, where it was courteously accepted. Even so, Malcolm was very politely told this was all old stuff; and he should have reported it earlier.

Joseph Heller would recognise the situation.

Alright, move on, nothing to see here

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Filed under crime, London, policing, Times, Tories.

(ex-) Canon Giles Fraser

Giles Fraser was, until this morning, Canon at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. He resigned resigned in protest at plans to forcibly remove anti-poverty protesters from its steps.

“I resigned because I believe that the chapter has set on a course of action that could mean there will be violence in the name of the church.”

We would like to see Giles Fraser re-instated. At the very least, this is a campaign to support him.

Says it all.

Malcolm was number 448.

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Filed under Britain, broken society, leftist politics., London, Religious division, social class