Monthly Archives: July 2012

3L (see below)

A very merry biped,
I’ve learned to walk upright.
Shometimes I may shtagger,
But mainly when I’m tight.

Malcolm’s hymn to a Long Liquid Lunch (hereafter 3L) is now offered to the world.

Back to the Stag

Which has appeared previously in these meanderings; and is now something of a regular pilgrimage, particularly when there are daughters to be fed and watered, or — as yesterday — when the Lady in Malcolm’s Life is restless and feels nomadic.


Finchley High Road
Costs not a penny
From Muswell Hill
With your Freedom Pass …

And about the same if you are going to outlying places such as Finchley Central and Golders Green: which brings up again the serious matter of the GNLP.

The GNLP, Malcolm?

As previously explained, you idle toad (click the hot-link next time: it helps Malcolm’s stats and makes him feel good) —

The Great Norf Lunnun Problem is best summed up by the Alan Klein/Geoff Stephens lyric for the New Vaudeville Band, back in 1967 — and, astoundingly not still not included in Time Out‘s list of 100 best London Songs (which manages to embrace some real stinkers):

For hours I waited; 
But I’m blowed, you never showed

At Finchley Central, ten long stations
From Golders Green, change at Camden Town.
I thought I’d made you, but I’m afraid you
Really let me down …

About the time that ditty was current, Malcolm was “involved” with a person in Hampstead flat-life,  and so acquired a close interest in the failings of the Northern Line. For the record she is still the Lady in Malcolm’s Life, so cast no nasturtiums, please.

The Northern Line has improved, but that’s a matter of degree. In those days the rolling stock was pre-war, signalling was Edwardian, and punctuality and reliability were … not taken seriously. The lifts at Hampstead tube station were venerable antiques: since Hampstead is the deepest tube station on the network, that involved too-frequent resource to the 320+ stairs up to street level.

Even today getting anywhere between the two forks of the Northern Line involves the dubious joys of a change at Camden Town, where you are truly at one with your neighbour (who was then and still is invariably an odiferous alky nutter).

So, the Finchley Central/Golder’s Green conundrum solves itself by the 82 bus route: eleven stops, every five minutes, takes  twenty minutes (half the time of that tedious tube journey), tops.

Err … the Stag?

Easy: buses 102 or 234 from Muswell Hill Broadway, which stop right across the road from the Stag. And there’s a very convenient controlled crossing.

No, Malcolm. Tell us about yesterday.

The Stag is part of a small chain of gastro-pubs which makes a virtue of offering products from independent brewers. For Malcolm the main event came courtesy of the Cottage Brewing Company of Castle Cary, Somerset: Blaze of Glory, a “special” 4.1% golden ale.

Let’s be frank here: Malcolm has a “thing” about those over-inventive beer-engine clips. The “wittier” the decal, the more the beer may disappoint. And here we have an awful warning of the type. Cottage Brewing make a fetish of their “mascot”, Jack the Whippet, and here he is in a frightener of a “seasonal” special.

Still, we’ve made the trip. We’re here for the beer. And what a surprise! A clean, crisp southern beer, served in a jug, and with just enough head to be decent. So Malcolm had another. And another …

And on the way home from his 3L was moved to compose the epic verse that heads this post.

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Filed under Beer, London, Music, Muswell Hill, pubs, Uncategorized

Synchronised something

Malcolm seeks to spend the next fortnight avoiding all things Olympic.

Bit difficult in London at the moment.

Made far, far worse by large proportions of every respectable newspaper taken over by the topic. He hates to think what the sports-vest-fest is like in the less respectable papers.

And, of course, much has relatively little connection to “sport” as it is generally experienced in Britain. Take “synchronised” diving, “synchronised” swimming … and similar abortions. Why are these sports and a leggy chorus line not?

So, somewhere in there came a recollection. Here it is:

Now, if Malcolm can find the DVD of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (re-issued a couple or so of years back in a magnificent restoration), there’s two hours better spent.

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Yes: this is the one thousand, five hundredth Malcolmian spouting. He thanks his reader for such long-lasting supporter. Perhaps by three thousand, we will have at least two more —

if I be alive and your mind hold and your dinner worth the eating.

That quotation, brief as it is, cut-and -pasted from the MIT site, where you will also find this headline: “Big Julie”, of course, was the Chicago gangster (played by B.S. Pully, the “blue” comedian) in Guys and Dolls. Big Julie always played with his own dice.

While we’re “off-colour” …

… there are these insights from Damian Thompson, courtesy of Saturday’s Telegraph:

Here’s a trenchant headline for you: “Transgender community celebrates ‘great diversity of gender identity’ in new book.” And another: “President tells youth groups to be vigilant against racist attitudes and to value diversity in society.” Care to guess which venerable organ published them? Here’s a clue: “Multicultural awards take place in Dublin following three-year break.”

Actually, that last one is a bit of a scoop. To anyone who knows modern Ireland, the notion that Dublin went a whole three years without multicultural awards is frankly incredible. Somebody really screwed up. They’re supposed to happen every month at least. The newspaper is the Irish Times, which these days makes the Guardian look like the bulletin of the Prayer Book Society. Rumour has it that it employs a special nurse to soothe joints sprained by marathon sessions of finger-wagging.

This week was a good one for the finger-waggers. The Irish parliament passed a law stripping political parties of state funding unless 30 per cent of their candidates are women; in later elections the quota will rise to 40 per cent. This means that bright men will be dissuaded from entering politics because the system will fill the Dáil with dim hectoring feminists with DIY Sinéad O’Connor haircuts. (Incidentally, did you know that eight out of the past 10 World Hectoring Champions have been lady members of the Irish Green party? It’s called Comhaontas Glas. Don’t ask me how it’s pronounced: the bizarre vagaries of Gaelic pronunciation were designed to trip up the English.)

Anyway, my point is not that rigged elections will destroy the democratic mandate of the Dáil, though they will. It’s that an especially toxic strain of political correctness has infected almost the entire Irish intelligentsia. Small-government conservatives are treated like lepers – something that, the Guardian/BBC axis notwithstanding, isn’t true of British public life. Meanwhile, the sucking up to minorities is beyond parody: a recent Irish Times profile of the travellers made them sound like latter-day Athenians. How long before there’s a transvestite traveller quota in the Dáil?

Admittedly, the programme of thought reform is not complete: the Irish working class is still instinctively socially conservative. But it is, unsurprisingly, increasingly anti-clerical, and that takes us to the heart of the matter. Churchgoing in Ireland has fallen off a cliff, thanks to the clergy’s dreadful record of committing and covering up paedophile crimes. The moral vacuum at the top of a hierarchical society has been filled by political correctness, much of it imported from the European Union at the height of Ireland’s Brussels-worship.

Identify innate prejudices lurking in those five paragraphs. But — hey!— we can’t abide “political correctness”, can we?

Your starter for ten:

  • Irish is a an alien tongue, so that’s fair game (just don’t try mocking the Frogs or the Huns, the Nips or the Chinks, when you’re looking to do business with them).
  • Gender equalities?  can’t have that! who’ll cook dinner and wash my socks?
  • It’s all the fault of the EU, isn’t it?
  • And Guardianistas are always fair game.

Add your own pig-ignorances at (s)will.

Gutter xenophobia (would Tony Gallagher, editor of the Telegraph, be capable of arguing that Thompson wasn’t in the gutter?) is endemic to English journalism. Perhaps we should omit the “journalism” substantive. And Scottish independence could, happily, restore to its rightful place the lost verse of the National Anthem?—

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God save the King!

Oh, dear! another irony! Field Marshall George Wade (1673-1748), whose roads crushed the Scots after the 1715 Jacobite Rising, was Irish-born at Kilavally, co. Westmeath, the son of a Cromwellian Major. So obviously a candidate for one of Malcolm’s occasionals on the Not-so-great and the not-so-good.

A Malcolmian aside

Sadly — for it would prompt an digression of some length, the story that Wade’s illegitimate daughter married Ralph Allen, whose quarries produced that gorgeous limestone to build Georgian Bath, seems just a tale.

Ralph Allen, entrepreneur, postmaster, Cornishman, patron and friend of Alexander Pope and Whig politicians, is better recognised in his literary version: Squire Allworthy in Fielding’s Tom Jones.


Thompson is mining a seam has been endemic in English thinking for centuries. Gerald of Wales, when he accompanied Prince John on his Irish trip, could claim the original copyright:

This people, then, is truly barbarous, being not only barbarous in their dress, but suffering their hair and beards to grow enormously in an uncouth manner, just like the modern fashion recently introduced; indeed all their habits are barbarisms. But habits are formed by mutual intercourse; and as this people inhabit a country so remote from the rest of the world, and lying at its furthest extremity, forming, as it were, another world, and are thus secluded from civilised nations, they learn nothing, and practise nothing but the barbarism in which they were born and bred, and which sticks to them like a second nature. Whatever natural gifts they possess are excellent, in whatever requires industry they are worthless.

Bede, by comparison, had been much more positive. Perhaps that is because in AD730 conquest and domination were not the agenda, in the way they had become in Gerald’s day:

Ireland is broader than Britain, is healthier and has a much milder climate, so that snow rarely lasts for more than three days. Hay is never cut in summer for winter use nor are stables built for their beasts. No reptile is found there nor could a serpent survive; for although serpents have often been brought from Britain, as soon as the ship approaches land they are affected by the scent of the air and quickly perish. In fact almost everything that the island produces is efficacious against poison. For instance we have seen how, in the case of people suffering from snake-bite, the leaves of manuscripts from Ireland were scraped, and the scrapings put in water and given to the sufferer to drink. These scrapings at once absorbed the whole violence of the spreading poison and assuaged the swelling. The island abounds in milk and honey, nor does it lack vines, fish, and birds. It is also noted for the hunting of stags and roe-deer. It is properly the native land of the Irish; they emigrated from it as we have described and so formed the third nation in Britain in addition to the Britons and the Picts.

Advance the fiendish Fenian

By the time Punch could produce that gem, the main staples of the prejudice were established. “Britannia”, stern and wise, was defending  her dependent junior “sister” from the demons. the Irish peasant is characteristically deformed and depraved.

That is a mild version. There are far worse.

John Leech

He was the chief cartoonist for Punch between 1841 and 1861, and his illustrations for Dickens, especially A Christmas Carol became iconic. He was also seminal  in ramping up hibernophobia among English readers.

Repeatedly he reaches for repulsive anthropomorphic grotesques to depict things Irish.

This shows as early as 1848:That, of course, is the Young Ireland movement. Malcolm has been this way, recently, and feels no great need to traipse back through Widow McCormack’s potato patch.

Making John Mitchel (the usual spelling, despite Leech) the point of that cartoon, to the exclusion of O’Brien, Meager and Dillon, might seem perverse. It does however, precisely date the moment. Mitchel was — arguably — the hottest head, and, as editor of The United Irishman, a tall poppy to be cut down. Mitchel’s arrest in March 1848, his prompt conviction for treason felony, and sentence of transportation, pushed the Young Irelanders to their abortive rising.

Malcolmian aside: nine Irishmen

In the last couple of decades, they’ve become a regular on wall-plaques, posters and tea-towels. They inevitably have a faux-Irish bar named in their honour. Just off the Strip in Las Vegas, so you have been warned.

Have you missed the hype it goes like this:

In 1874, word reached an astounded Queen Victoria that the Sir Charles Duffy who had been elected Prime Minister of Australia, was the same Charles Duffy who had been transported into exile there 25 years before. On the Queen’s demand, the records of the rest of the transported Irishmen were revealed and this is what was discovered:

The Queen’s Record of the Rest of the Transported Irishmen:

  • Thomas Francis Meagher: Governor of Montana
  • Terrance MacManus: Brigadier General, U.S. Army.
  • Patrick Donahue: Brigadier General, U.S. Army.
  • Morris Leyne: Attorney General of Australia, in which office…
  • Michael Ireland succeeded him as Attorney General of Australia.
  • Richard O’Gorman: Governor General of Newfoundland.
  • Thomas D’Arcy McGee: Member of Parliament, Montreal, Minister of Agriculture and President of Council Dominion of Canada
  • John Mitchel: Prominent New York Politician, father of John Purroy Mitchel, Mayor of New York at the outbreak of world war I.

To which it is obligatory to add:

The moral of the story: you can’t keep a good Irishman down.

Malcolm suspects a lot of that is “improved” from Tim Pat Coogan’s own inventiveness, especially from Wherever Green is Worn. A cynic might add not all went well:

  • Meagher drowned in the Missouri, having mysteriously — though probably drunk —fallen from a steamboat;
  • MacManus died in abject poverty in San Francisco,as early as 1861, so no Civil War command;
  • Donahue is frequently confused with his near-name-sake — the Patrick Donahoe who died in his bed, aged 90, a prominent Boston businessman, newspaper owner and philanthropist;
  • Neither “Leyne” (even his name is disputed, though he seems to have come fromKerry) nor Ireland seem to receive an entry in the Dictionary of Australian Biography;
  • McGee was never more than a Member of the Canadian Parliament, but was assassinated;
  • Richard O’Gorman became a New York lawyer and judge, and here may be confused with Sir Terence O’Brien, Manchester-born Governor of Newfoundland 1889-95;
  • Before 1901 there was no Australia, and the six territories were separate entities, so Duffy was no Prime Minister thereof — though briefly he was Premier and Chief Secretary of the province of Victoria, and ditto for Attorneys General of Australia: ;
  • John Purroy Mitchel fell out of aircraft, having failed to strap himself in.

There are several fuller analyses of this superb urban myth.

More of Leech

When John Leech produced this one for Punch (14 December 1861), he was exploiting several contemporary ideas.

One was the notion of the “missing link” in evolution (Leech had used a similar representation  for a visiting French zoologist earlier in the year). Hence, the Irish nationalist belongs to an irrational and inferior species.

Specifically, though, the burning topic was the Trent incident. A Unionist captain had removed two Confederates delegates from a British merchant ship. Daniel O’Donoghue, a Nationalist MP, used a public meeting at Dublin’s Rotunda to declare that Ireland would offer England neither money nor men   at this moment of tension. Notice how Punch and Leech are leaning towards support for the Confederates (refer on this to Amanda Foreman, whom Malcolm has noted previously, and more than once).

Leech in Ireland

Through a shared enthusiasm for hunting, Leech became friends with the Reverend Samuel Reynolds Hole, squire and vicar of Caunton, Notts. In 1859 the two travelled through Ireland, and out of that trip came A Little Tour in Ireland, with illustrations by Leech.

After a long run up, getting to Dublin, and a rumination around TCD, we join Hole in Phoenix Park, amid the RIC:

Picked men, and admirably trained, they are as smart and clean, lithe and soldier-like, as the severest sergeant could desire. They do credit to him whose name they bear, for they are still called Peelers, after their godfather Sir Robert, who originated the force, when Secretary for Ireland. Fifty of them had left Dublin for Kilkenny that moring, to expostulate with the bold pisantry on the impropriety of smashing some reaping-machines recently introduced among them. The Irishman is not quick to appreciate agricultural improvements. It required an Act of Parliament to prevent him Attaching the plough to the tails of his horses …

We have Hole’s number: all that concern for the horses, rather than implied rural unemployment. And isn’t the pun on peasant/piss ant so neat and witty? Or not.

As these couple of examples show, Leech went along with the fun. even when he got away from the anthropomorphics:

Hole, who — for a beneficed and married cleric of the Church of England — spends a remarkable part of his narrative admiring young ladies (and Leech sketching them) manages the odd occasion of human sympathy, shows a capacity to write, and almost manages to maintain the effect:

We witnessed at the railway station, on our arrival at Galway, a most painful and touching scene, — the departure of some emigrants, and their last separation, here on earth, from dear relations and friends. The train was about to start, and the platform was crowded with men, women and children, pressing round for a last fond look. Ever and anon, a mother or a sister would force a way into the carriages, flinging her arms around her beloved, only to be separated by a superior strength, and parted from them with such looks of misery as disturbed the soul with pity. And then, for the first time, we heard the wild Irish “cry”, beginning with a low, plaintive wail, and gradually rising in its tone of intense sorrow …

Nor was this great grief simulated, … but came gushing from the full fountain of those loving hearts. There were faces there no actor could assume — faces which would have immortalised the painter who could have traced them truly, but were beyond the compass of art. Two, especially, I shall never forget. A youth of eighteen or nineteen, who had a cheerful word and pleasant smile for all, though you could see the while, in his white cheek and quivering lip, how grief was gnawing his brave Spartan heart … and the other, an elderly man, who had stood somewhat aloof from the rest, with his arms folded, and his head bent, motionless, speechless, with a face on which despair had written, I shall smile no more until I welcome death

Many of the emigrants had bunches of wild flowers and heather, and one of them a shamrock in a broken flowerpot, as memorials of dear ould Ireland. Nor does this fond love of home and kindred decline in a distant land; no less a sum than £7,520,000 having been sent from America to Ireland, in the years 1848 to 1854 inclusive, according to the statement of the Emigration Commissioners.

No end of prejudice

Leech was not unique, not the first, and by no means the last in this mode. Nor is it entirely an English failing. This from as recent as 2005, and Vancouver:

So Damian Thompson can rest easy. He and his like have taught well. As Malcolm can personally testify:

  • one can be born and raised in Norfolk,
  • one’s speech still has those Anglian broad vowels and missed consonants,
  • spend half-a-century of adult life in England’s fair and pleasant land,

but …

  • because of a while at school and university in Dublin, one is inevitably “that mad Irishman”.

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Filed under Australia, bigotry, culture, Daily Telegraph, Devolution, Dublin., East Anglia, History, Ireland, leisure travel, Literature, nationalism, politics, poverty, prejudice, Quotations, Racists, reading, travel, Trinity College Dublin

Dead? Mad? Forgotten all about it?

Malcolm went hunting through Eminent Victorians, and didn’t immediately find the reference. Still, Lytton Strachey is generally purported to quote Palmerston on the Schleswig-Holstein Question:

Only three people have ever really understood it – the Prince Consort, who is dead – a German professor, who has gone mad – and I, who have forgotten all about it.

Malcolm feels the same way about the legal position of  Glasgow Rangers and the club’s Byzantine negotiations with the various Scottish football authorities. Hats off, then, to Stephen Halliday in The Scotsman, for some degree of clarification:

RANGERS were last night finally given the go-ahead to start the new season this weekend after often tortuous negotiations between the newly constituted Ibrox club and the Scottish football authorities reached an agreement.

Shortly after 9pm, a joint statement was released by the Scottish Football Association, Scottish Premier League, Scottish Football League and Rangers chief executive Charles Green’s Sevco consortium confirming that SFA membership will be transferred from the oldco to the newco.

The membership is conditional initially, allowing Rangers to begin their new era against Brechin City at Glebe Park tomorrow afternoon in a Ramsdens Cup first round tie. Full membership will then be completed when Rangers’ share in the SPL, still held by their administrators Duff and Phelps, is transferred to Dundee next week. It will allow Dundee to begin the new SPL campaign on 4 August, while Rangers will start life as a Third Division club the following week.

You understood that, didn’t you, all about “oldco”, “newco” and “Sevco”? If so, answers on a postcard, please …

If you did, or even if you didn’t, Michael Grant’s somewhat more partisan view in HeraldScotland might appeal. Perhaps. Ummm …

Now we can look forward to Ibrox (capacity 51,000) hosting visits from Montrose (average attendance: 3292) and Peterhead (average attendance: 3250). Not to overlook a sellout return fixture on artificial turf at East Stirlingshire (currently playing at Stenhousemuir‘s Ochilview Park: capacity: 1880 — unless the car-park is also used for overflow standing).

Rangers take over the Division 3 fixtures previously due to that other great club, Stranraer.

Be still, my beating heart.

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A famous face

Paul Waugh, at PoliticsHome, has a scoop of national proportions:

… from today, the PM’s address is finally on Google StreetView for everyone to see.

The public haven’t been able to go right upto the famous black door since the mid 1990s and the days of John Major.

But perhaps the best thing is that Larry the Cat is in the pic – you have to zoom in quite close but he’s there to the left of the No.10 door. Never camera-shy is Larry.

Waugh cheekily suggests an ulterior motive:

FOOTNOTE: Google’s own co-founder Larry Page, may be more than happy to see his namesake.

About the only personality around Downing Street whose reputation does not get savaged by the media, on a routine basis, is the official Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.

A Malcolmian aside:

When the world was much younger, Malcolm and the Lady who soon thereafter entered his Life full-time wandered across Green Park.

In those gentler days of the summer of 1967, all-and-sundry were still able to treat Downing Street as just another public thoroughfare.

It was chucking-out time after some official jolly, and an assembly of the Great and the Good were on Harold Wilson’s doorstep. The Earl Attlee (who died that autumn) was wheeled out to be loaded into a limousine.

A voice in the crowd on the opposite pavement called, “Good on you, Clem”, to widespread approval and cheers.

Clem and V’s cat at Number Ten was Peter (and succeeded in office by Peter II).

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Filed under British Left, Harold Wilson, History, London, Paul Waugh, politicshome, World War 2

Spot the deliberate mistake

From the BBC  News Northern Ireland website:

The Red Arrows have performed a fly-past over Belfast to mark the start of the Olympic Games.

Earlier, the bells on Londonderry’s two cathedrals and those at two venues in Belfast rang out in harmony in celebration of London 2012.

Well, “harmony” is either a clue — or a second invention.

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Filed under BBC, Belfast, City of Derry, Northern Ireland

Pottery Barn rule, London, E14

As far as he can recall, the first time Malcolm encountered the “Pottery Barn rule” was from William Safire in the New York Times:

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That caution against obsessive reform was introduced into the American political language in the late 1970s by Bert Lance, President Jimmy Carter’s budget chief. Ol’ Bert, a Georgian, claimed no coinage, saying, “It’s a bit of old Southern wisdom.”

Fast-forward 25 years to another phrase involving metaphoric breakage. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was quoted in “Plan of Attack” as cautioning President George Bush before the war that he would “own” Iraq and all its problems, after military victory. “Privately,” wrote Bob Woodward, “Powell and Armitage called this the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.” (Richard Armitage is the deputy secretary of state.)

Safire then went into a bit of Thomist [sic] nit-picking over who coined the expression, suggesting that Powell was borrowing from Tom Friedman.


One Olympic sight Malcolm intends to take in is the massed Monégasque navy in London’s Docklands. And the queen of the lot has to be (take your pick) the German cruise-line Deutschland (above) or the tall ship Stadt Amsterdam.

For the sake of argument, let’s settle for the German offering.

After all, that fits the Pottery Barn Rule: they broke it, so (for now) they own it.

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Filed under Britain, equality, History, London, New York Times, travel, World War 2

Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?

It was hard work at the time, but Malcolm is truly grateful to Mr Gorman at the High School. Preparing for Leaving Cert involved learning by heart extended tracts of English and, its close cousin, Irish verse. In there was the well-known passage from Pope’s Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot, deriding Addison. That includes:

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
Alike reserv’d to blame, or to commend,
A tim’rous foe, and a suspicious friend…

Come to think of it, that’s a fair description of much good — even admirable — journalism, down to the present day.

In the matter of Mitt Romney and #RomneyShambles, the bit about afraid to strike lay unloved by the wayside. Thus adding to the general delight and enjoyment. It istruth universally acknowledged, that a Brit in want of a good presidential candidate hasn’t taken to a Republican since Eisenhower (even Reagan was an acquired taste, and then only among Thatcherites).

Romney is being treated as a weirdo; and Cameron inviting him into Downing Street did not look like one of the shrewdest moves of all time. Until he managed that popular and populist Salt Lake City moment:

“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere,” said Cameron.

Good to see Salt Lake City taking that so well.

If any illusions linger about that Special Relationship Churchill, 1946], Hugh Grant never spoke for the Great British Public so well as his speech in Love Actually. Malcolm can personally attest cinema audiences rose and applauded, vigorously. Some of Malcolm’s disreputable acquaintance would sit through repeated showings just to make their feelings felt at that moment.

And for the other perfect put-down, damning with faintest praise, assenting with the most civil of leers, we turn to the Daily Telegraph. Lucy “I couldn’t give a monkeys about the Olympics” Jones reminded us of a useful northern expression:

Mitt Romney is a wazzock

Bet that, like red Sancerre (which, rather like wazzocks, Malcolm once had to instruct a wine “expert”, actually did exist), doesn’t make it to Salt Lake City.

And then there was Alex Spillius (so conveniently rhyming with “bilious”) knocking out an excellent piece under the heading:

Commentary: if Mitt Romney doesn’t like us, we shouldn’t care

Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive.

Yep: that the truest faint praise and civil sneer. Spillius also “gets” what so many non-Brits never can:

If he possessed a smidgeon of insight into the British psyche he would have known that despite all the pre-match whingeing and the carping, that on the night we will celebrate the games with all the gusto and fervour they deserve. We moan, and then we smile; that is just our way.

And to even a casual student of British public life, it was obvious both that immigration officers would call off their strike at the eleventh hour and that thousands of part-time labourers wouldn’t be bothered to show up to work for G4S, the security firm.

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Filed under Daily Telegraph, David Cameron, Dublin, films, High School, History, Literature, London, reading, United States, US politics

B1 Bongo, suited and booted

To the Ian Allen types they were ‘Antelopes’ or ‘Springboks’ (as the prototype 8310 was named in honour of Jan Smuts). Eventually the antelope names were running short, and number 8306 was ‘Bongo’ — and so, to railwaymen, they all became ‘Bongoes’

And that charming chap (making assumptions about gender), left, is an Eastern Bongo.

Which brings us circuitously to Malcolm’s point.

Steaming along

Malcolm has been on an odd steam excursion, out of London and to some suitable cathedral city. Without exception it provides an pleasurable, entertaining, nostalgic — if expensive — day out.

Judging from the number of cameras and pointed fingers along the line, the spectacle seems to provide something as well for the populaces through which the train passes.

And then Malcolm hit on this photograph, which prompted the headline here:

The caption tells us that is at Colchester. As Malcolm recalls, steam excursions pull into the south side platform at Colchester where the water in the tender is replenished by the local fire brigade — a double spectacle, which could explain the enthusiastic gallery. In regular service, particularly on nationalised British Rail, locos were rarely so immaculate.

You won’t be able to do the trip behind B1 61264 for the time being, for it is currently being given a ten-year service at Crewe. The last Malcolm heard was that a return to steam was delayed by the late delivery of boiler-tubes from Germany. After that, the loco is booked for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (of which more elsewhere, perhaps).


What intrigues Malcolm about the photograph above is its appropriateness. The B1s did sterling service on the East Anglian routes, before the arrival of the Britannia Pacifics, and so Malcolm would have heard, smelled and ridden behind them. The shed code, 30F, on the front of the boiler shows that 61264 worked out of Parkeston Quay, which leads to a further moment from yesteryear:

No: Parkeston Quay was never that romantic, that scenic. Even in 1937, which is Malcolm Root‘s depicted date. Particularly when the advertised next leg, to Vliessingen, would be by the Zeeland Steamship Company‘s Prinses Juliana (built 192o to replace its namesake lost in 1916), Oranje Nassau (ditto, rebuilt 1922) or Mecklenburg (heaven help you, built 1909, and — by all accounts — a nasty little tub on a less-than-perfect day).

B12 LNER 8572 survives: it operates, restored to that decent LNER green, on the North Norfolk Railway, The Poppy Line.

Ironically, 8572, later BR  61572, was commonly found on the Norwich-Liverpool Street run, which is what 61264 is claiming with The Broadsman plate. By the time no-longer-fledgeling Malcolm was a semi-regular on that route, the haulage was by Britannia 4-6-2 Pacifics, and the timing down to 2½ hours.

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Filed under History, London, Norfolk, railways, travel

Guido Fawkes: Tory shill

Guido Fawkes seems to have a new understrapper, who might, just might, have a grasp of Flash.  And thereby hangs a new meme. It consists of a winking tag: on-off-on-off:


Well, flattering. Very.

Go to Mark Ferguson at Labour List for the unvarnished truth:

That’s not just this quarter. It’s since the infamous spending review.

Even The Sun has it in her poor Gids, under the head-line:

Sack ‘work experience Chancellor’
UK slump longest on record.

Back to the wallpaper, Gids?

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Filed under George Osborne, Guido Fawkes, Paul Staines, Tories.