Daily Archives: October 14, 2013

Yes, Iain, you have a point

Back end of last week, before “National Fungus Day” (no relation), Iain Dale made a salient point on his self-promoting blog, repeating from ditto on ConHome:

I have to say I find the growing tendency of MPs to report people (and each other) to the Metropolitan Police deeply disturbing. They rarely do it because they think there’s a case to answer. They do it because their party HQs tell them to, the whips tell them to, or because they think it’ll get the a page lead in the Daily Mail or The Sun. And invariably they are right.

That, it seems, was composed before Ms Natalie Rowe revealed (ahem!) that she, in her knickers and top, had been confronted  by a Metropolitan raiding party, complete with battering ram and giant crochet hook. So, who — clearly someone (unlike us “little people”) with big enough boots to kick the Met  into instant action — laid mistaken “information” against Ms Natalie Rowe? May we assume maliciously?

Conspiracy theorists (unlike Ms Rowe) would have a simple answer for that one. Many invoke the putative 18th baronet of Ballentaylor and Ballylemon, or at least those “friends” who serially appear in off-the-record political briefings. The kind of stooge to whom Iain Dale refers.

Yet conspiracy theorists are not, necessarily, always wrong. After all, pre-Crash, didn’t many of us suspect bankers were crooks?

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Filed under blogging, ConHome, Conservative family values, George Osborne, Iain Dale

Thanks, Ms Ro(w)e

Now here’s an interesting coincidence:

Exhibit 1:

From the Daily Telegraph‘s Mandrake column, 29th September 2013:

Damian McBride’s autobiography was described as the “literary equivalent of a suicide belt” that the former right-hand man to Gordon Brown detonated at the Labour Party conference last week. It is, however, the memoirs of a lesser-know figure that hang over the Conservatives’ gathering in Manchester.

Mandrake hears that a book has been completed by Natalie Rowe, the dominatrix once, memorably, pictured in a photograph with George Osborne, the Chancellor.

The former brothel-owner, known professionally as “Miss Whiplash”, is understood to be in “advanced negotiations” with a leading publisher over its release, which is likely to be accompanied by a tabloid newspaper serialisation.

“They are dynamite,” one of Rowe’s friends tells me. “They are full of sensational claims about her time as a dominatrix and she is prepared to name names.”

article-2036563-0DD9E23F00000578-206_233x299Nothing out-of-the-ordinary there. Ms Rowe has been promising us “revelations” for several years; and the “particulars” have been in the “public domain” since the News of the Screws blew the gaff, back in October 2005 (as right).

So, onwards and downwards, for

Exhibit 2:

From the Sunday People, 13th October 2013:

George Osborne: Cops raid home of ex-vice madam about to tell all on wild parties involving top Tories

Natalie Rowe was warned not to “open a can of worms” before publishing new claims about her relationship with the Chancellor

Ex-vice madam Natalie Rowe has had her home raided by police days before she will make new claims about her relationship with Chancellor George Osborne, the Sunday People reports.

Up to 12 Drugs Squad officers armed with a battering ram burst into her London flat in a dawn swoop claiming they were acting on a tip-off from a member of the public.

But no drugs were found in the two-hour search during which Miss Rowe claims she was threatened with being handcuffed – and had questions asked about her forthcoming autobiography.

The book is expected to make ­embarrassing new claims about Mr Osborne, who was allegedly a regular guest at wild parties the dominatrix threw at her flat in the early 1990s.

Miss Rowe was raided just 48 hours after a national paper reported that her memoirs are due out later this month.

Move along now! Nothing to see here!

The official police version is quoted (by the Daily Mail, so it must be true):

Following information received, officers based in Kensington and Chelsea obtained a warrant to search an address under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on October 2.

No drugs were found and no one was arrested.

A formal complaint was received on October 9. It has been referred to the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS). We are not prepared to discuss further.

One doesn’t need a rodent operator’s nose to small a rat. Who lobbed the gratuitous, and apparently untrue allegation of drugs? Do the Met Police always act so quickly, and so coincidentally quickly, on every bit of “information received”? And there’s either a misprint (should “October 2” be “October 12”?) or the warrant was independent of and precedes any “information received”.

All very odd.

What is touching, however, is another uptick in Malcolm’s nugatory statporn.

Suddenly there is an increased number of visits to an old post: Gids, white powder and a strong dusky arm.

So, thank you, Ms Rowe.

Onwards and all-to-the-fore

Malcolm admits he has to be very careful lest he confuses his Ms Rowes/Roes.

For he recalls the once-famed Erika of that alternative, shorter spelling, who made her mark with a topless half-time run across the sacred turf of Twickenham on 2nd January 1982.

England won 15-11, while Ms Erika Roe earned the gratitude of many rugby louts.

Erika helmeted


As has been often repeated, Ms Roe had a fellow-traveller on the pitch, one Sarah Bennett (seen — just — second right in that photograph, with her less prominent immodesty shielded by the Union Flag). For reasons into which we need not enquire, Ms Bennett failed to get the press coverage extended to Ms Roe.

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Filed under blogging, Britain, Conservative family values, Daily Mail, George Osborne, Metropolitan Police, politics, Rugby, Tories.

A use (at last) for a Kindle?

Malcolm admits he has tried, and failed, to use ebooks. Not on a desk-top, nor on a lap-top, nor on an iBook has he ever managed a complete text.

Scorning the odds, he even acquired a Kindle in hope of fourth time lucky. Everyone else seems to manage, but he found himself again struggling through a few pages, then admitting defeat and buying a hard-copy.

What an invention!

After all, he argues, if someone could invent:

  • a cheap, light, portable, fully-recyclable device,
  • capable of containing a megabyte or three, in full colour,
  • with information logically organised, and capable of being fully indexed, foot-noted and the rest,
  • which is also (at-least semi-)permanent — with luxury editions guaranteed for centuries,
  • free from being rendered obsolete by technological advance,
  • stores easily,
  • is readily-available,
  • has good aesthetics,
  • and, at a pinch, is multi-purpose (door-stop, wedge, cup-rest …), —

— it would be hailed as a work of genius, sweep the world, and win every award, kudos and credit going.

Yet we have all of that, and more.

Heo cyðaþ on ðisse bec [circa 886-899]

It is called a “book”, and we Anglophones have been naming it in that word and its predecessors (bóc, booc, boc, bok, boke, booke …) these thirteen centuries.

And, no: it almost certainly isn’t a word derived from “beech”, on the assumption that some ancient was hacking slices off a beech trunk to write upon. As the OED dismissively puts it:

Generally thought to be etymologically connected with the name of the beech-tree, Old English bóc , béce , Old Norse bók < (seebeech n.), the suggestion being that inscriptions were first made on beechen tablets, or cut in the bark of beech trees; but there are great difficulties in reconciling the early forms of the two words, seeing that bôk-s ‘writing-tablet’ is the most primitive of all.

Which means our Germanic antecedents were calling books  “bôkôs” before they gave Fagus sylvatica the name of bóece or béce. Admittedly, Malcolm only did that vamp [a] to flaunt some useless knowledge (or, rather. “book-learning”) and [b] to deploy that neat term “beechen”.

Familiarity breeds disrespect.

And so we get back to the Kindle.

It may just be that Malcolm has found a use for his otherwise useless appliance of Amazon (though a grandson, having destroyed his own, now casts an eye on Malcolm’s little-used one). All courtesy of the Observer‘s running column-filler, The 100 Best Novels.

There was an alternative draft of this sequence, courtesy of Robert McCrum. At a quick scan, Malcolm was prepared to admit to knowing about half of that list.

Then The Observer started itemising each one. It was immediately clear this was a different listing, and limited to he best novels written in English. Hence, Don Quixote (number 1 in McCrum’s straight listing) was by-passed. Malcolm began ticking them off. So far we have:

  1. John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress;
  2. Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe;
  3. Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels;
  4. Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa.

At which point, the Kindle becomes of use.

For Malcolm knows that the first three, for certain and in at least a couple of editions each, are in one or other of the five or six dozen boxes and Tesco’s lettuce trays that conveyed them up to York from London. Presently, shelving is going in for what Malcolm terms his “book-room” (and what the Lady-in-his-Life more grandly refers to as the “library”). So repurchasing yet another copy is an expense which cannot easily be justified, even in Malcolm’s addiction to Waterstones, Oxfam and the rest of the new-or-secondhand brotherhood.

UnknownBut Clarissa? There might be a Penguin paperback somewhere in the boxes, but Malcolm is unsure. In any event, it must be decades old, for that was the last time Malcolm ventured that way.

Excuse to buy?

Possibly, but it’s an each-way bet, complicated by the commitment to persist through 900,000 words (McCrum’s estimate).

Hold hard! What’s this?


The answer to the maiden’s prayer!

What’s more, Gutenberg.com do the business is various formats, including HTML and Kindle.

Cut to the chase:


I am extremely concerned, my dearest friend, for the disturbance that have happened in your family. I know how it must hurt you to become the subject of the public talk: and yet, upon an occasion so generally known, it is impossible but that whatever relates to a young lady, whose distinguished merits have made her the public care, should engage everybody’s attention. I long to have the particulars from yourself; and of the usage I am told you receive upon an accident you could not help; and in which, as far as I can learn, the sufferer was the aggressor.

This may yet be the start of a boot-ti-ful friendship  — as in “booting up”, an interesting metaphor in itself, abbreviated from “boot-strap” or, as the OED explains:

A strap sewn on to a boot to help in pulling it on or looped round a boot to hold down the skirt of a lady’s riding habit; a boot-lace.

Oooh, sexy stuff!


Dance10For a while there, Malcolm was about to offer the bon-mot:

Books do furnish a room.

He hesitated because he wanted, instinctively, to attribute it to Virginia Woolf.

On second thoughts, does it pre-date Anthony Powell’s title for the tenth of A Dance to the Music of Time sequence? Ah! Yes! Of course! That Poussin in the Wallace Collection!

Which doesn’t look good, at all, on the screen of Malcolm’s (low-status) Kindle:


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