Good golly, Miss Molly!

Little Richard, and this must be when music videos went OTT:

This short (I hope) post is about recognition. And, I’d guess, while three generations would instantly recognise “Little Richard”, the recognition factor for Richard Wayne Penniman would be closer to zilch.

The mouth of first resort

On a number of occasions over the years I’ve wondered how “famous” sayings are invariably — and erroneously — attached to a very small number of individuals. WS Churchill being too often a prime suspect.

Sure enough, post #167 of a politics.ie thread, we were given:

A famous man once said that wogs begin at Calais.

The “famous man” would be — but, of course — Churchill. I keep coming across assertions that Churchill made the remark, or — more credibly

The phrase originated when a Member of Parliament in 1945 stood up and accused Winston Churchill of believing that “Wogs start in Calais” i.e. of being europhobic and isolationist.

So far, the nearest precise citation I can find is George Wigg (later Harold Wilson’s wingman, and one of the prime movers in getting the Profumo scandal on the record) in a Commons Debate, 29th July 1949.

Here he is putting the unreconstructed David Gammans, the unreconstructed Tory MP for Hornsey, back into his box:

I recently had the opportunity of talking to some Burmese gentlemen, and one of the things they said was that they never realised until they came here and met ordinary people, what the British people were like. They thought they were all haughty and arrogant. The hon. Gentleman and his Friends think they are all “wogs.” Indeed, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) thinks that the “wogs” start at Calais. If one views people like the hon. Gentleman from the angle of a private soldier, one realises that to them there are black “wogs” and white “wogs.” The attitude of hon. Members opposite to the black chap is not much different from the attitude of some of them towards the private soldier, and that is why the Forces have a great sympathy with the native peoples.

Further proof, should one need it, never to take a book by its cover.

Now to decode:

Tutti frutti, aw rutti
Awop bop a loo mop atop bom bom.

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Filed under Harold Wilson, History, London, Music, Muswell Hill, nationalism, politics.ie, Quotations

A story for our (Sunday) Times

There used to be an anthology we used in lower-school English classes.

It included this, by Jules Thurber:

The Little Girl and the Wolf

One afternoon a big wolf waited in a dark forest for a little girl to come along carrying a basket of food to her grandmother. Finally a little girl did come along and she was carrying a basket of food. “Are you carrying that basket to your grandmother?” asked the wolf. The little girl said yes, she was. So the wolf asked her where her grandmother lived and the little girl told him and he disappeared into the wood.

When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother’s house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on. She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

(Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.)

Problem: one would have to explain “Calvin Coolidge” — arguably, the most buttoned-up American President of all time:

Of whom there were more anecdotes than he deserved. But, I’m sure, if the class was dragging, I’d have woven in a few.

Repeat:

Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.

On which note, there’s this advice to all sweet young things venturing on a  career in politics:

 

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Five hundred years …

… and it comes down to this:

 

and this:

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The MLA, the paramilitaries and the DUP leader

In the broadest terms, who to blame?

What follows is partial, and therefore biased. Anyone in a Northern Irish context comes with denominational and familial connections. At the thug end, both sides are up to the gunnels in drug-dealing, extortion — and worse. It doesn’t end there, or stay in the grossest communities: it persists through each and every conurbation across the Six Counties. And it has ramifications further afield.

Except when there’s an atrocity, it doesn’t obtrude into the wider British and Irish attention-spans. Yet, in regard to what follows her, it should. For, to maintain her government “strong and stable’ in Westminster, that daughter of the parsonage, Theresa May, has pledged a cool billion to keep her and their shows on the road. Your average British tax-renderer is footing the bill.

As the Prince concludes, in the finale of Romeo and Juliet:

See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish’d.

Provided both sides in the great divide of Northern Ireland see some of that filthy lucre glistening in their separate troughs, a degree of “peace” may prevail.

So, to exemplify:

Only when it featured in The S(c)um did this make waves:

WRONG TUNE DUP politician says he thought terrorist meeting he attended was actually a flute band event
Whistle-blower from banned group UDA claims councillor Wesley Irvine attended one of their meetings to hand out voter registration forms ahead of June general election

There is, as a matter of helpful fact, a better version on the Inews site:

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) member – who said that if his name was revealed he would be killed – told BBC Northern Ireland’s respected Spotlight investigative programme that the banned terrorist group had an increasingly close relationship with the DUP over recent years.

The man told Spotlight that a month before the General Election DUP councillor Wesley Irvine attended a meeting of the UDA’s North Down ‘battalion’ in Bangor, with the meeting chaired by the man alleged to be the group’s commander, Dee Stitt.

He claimed that the former Mayor of North Down was there looking for voters and that prior to the meeting beginning all the women left and those present were asked to leave their phones outside the room.

He said that “the first item of business was for Wesley Irvine to run around the room handing out voter registration forms and DUP election material to chants of ‘DUP’ from Dee Stitt”.

That should take us back to the BBC exposé from which this all derives

A look at how and why the DUP and Sinn Fein allowed community groups linked to loyalist paramilitaries to benefit from Stormont’s Social Investment Fund.

We can, thanks to another BBC item, draw a direct line from aforesaid Dee Stitt (far right, if not so here) and Arlene Foster (even further right in this image), as here:

 

El Stitt runs Charter NI,  which sits on a nice little earner with £1.7 million — yes, you did read that correctly — leached from the £80 million total of the Social Investment Fund. Out of the same kitty comes near on a million for the Kilcooley Sports Forum — got that, almost a million for a local footie field? — and (oh, you’ve guessed it!) said Stitt is a Big Wheel in that operation, too. Altogether the East Belfast affiliates of the criminal-gang that is the UDA have had the disposition of over £5 million of public money over a couple of years.

Names in the frame include:

It’s worth traipsing round the web-sites and publicity for the number of occasions when we see these heavies, and their acolytes, cuddling up with “respectable” politicians, local councillors, mayors, MLAs and worthies.

That’s a nice little, tight little set-up you’ve got there, Arlene.

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Second-hand signings

I brushed past John Rentoul’s recent Top Ten:

This list started when Laura McInerney‏ asked: “Has there ever been a transport secretary who once worked in transport?” I said that John Prescott, Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions 1997-2001, had been a steward in the Merchant Navy. Mr Memory added that Harry Gosling, Labour’s first Transport Minister in 1924, had been a waterman. 

Down at number 4 was:

James Callaghan, Chancellor 1964-67, was an Inland Revenue tax inspector. Thanks to Jon Clarke. Norman Lamont, 1990-93, is one of only two chancellors who had an economics degree (no, PPE doesn’t count). The other was Hugh Dalton, 1945-47, who lectured in economics at the London School of Economics. Hugh Gaitskell, 1950-51, lectured in economics at UCL, although his own degree was in PPE.

Years ago I set about collecting Left Book Club editions, and similar stuff that mainly came out of Gollancz.

For all of a few pre-decimal pence I thereby acquired Hugh Dalton’s signature. So he would be in my personal Top Ten, around me here on these shelves. In at number 8 of John Rentoul’s list is:

Alan Johnson, Trade and Industry Secretary 2005-06, which included the Royal Mail in its responsibilities, was a postman.

Since I have the complete (to date) Johnson memoirs, signed by the author, they must qualify. Johnson, though, is a prolific signer — so, in due course, like Ted Heath, the unsigned copies may be the ones that retain any value.

My copy of Michael Foot’s The Pen and the Sword (an original edition from 1957, at that) had a small history: it is signed by a distinguished industrial correspondent for the Daily Express (at a time when Beaverbrook’s Express was still a newspaper and a power in the land) who would have worked alongside the journalist Michael Foot. It came to me, not quite directly from him, at a time (late ’60s) I was putting myself around in Bury St Edmunds Labour Party.

Many of these inscriptions and declarations of ownership are enigmatic:

Philip Williams’ biography of Hugh Gaitskell came my way a few months back. The inscription is “To Jack. Happy Memories and our very best wishes for the future. Ben and Sheila December , 1979”. Since the book was only recently published then, I might assume somewhere in there are decent socialists. (Philip Williams was a follower of Gaitskell and the Campaign for Democratic Socialism, had dealings with Tony Crosland, and was involved in the creation of the SDP.)

Many are worth the decoding.

Just this week York’s Oxfam Books threw up David C Douglas, The Norman Achievementbut in an American edition, published by the University of California, yet “Printed in Great Britain”, and a dead ringer for the Eyre and Spottiswoode UK edition. Consider the former owner “Elizabeth Muir Tyler”, who monikered the book “June 30, 1987 Philadelphia”. Professor (another “no less”) Elizabeth Muir Tyler ended up as  a considerable ornament to literature and history at the University of York . Did Professor Tyler have it already second-hand from the (stamped) “Library of Georgianna Ziegler”? For Georgianna Ziegler was Curator at the Horace Howard Furness Shakespeare Library, University of Pennsylvania, and then a major figure at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Another one is a grandiose book-plate in That Great Lucifer, A Portrait of Sir Walter Ralegh (see right). A quick google turns up an obituary of:

Former consultant psychiatrist Manchester (b Todmorden 1912; q Manchester 1937; MA, DPM, FRCPsych), d 7 January 2003.

Northage Mather was of a generation whose careers were interrupted by war service. He was a medical officer in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve before taking the Diploma in Psychological Medicine in 1946. He was soon appointed consultant psychiatrist at Crumpsall Hospital, Manchester (now North Manchester General Hospital), and remained there for 30 years, building up a well known department. He had a special interest in forensic psychiatry, was involved in more than 300 murder trials, and was later a member of the Parole Board. A man of wide interests, including music and literature, he leaves a wife, Mabel, and two children.

He “was involved in more than 300 murder trials”. Say no more.

 

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The Archimedes principle

Compare and contrast:

1. Wart meets Archimedes (The Sword in the Stone):

Merlyn took off his pointed hat when he came into this chamber, because it was too high for the roof, and immediately there was a scamper in one of the dark corners and a flap of soft wings, and a tawny owl sitting on the black skull—cap which protected the top of his head.

‘Oh, what a lovely owl!’ cried the Wart.

But when he went up to it and held out his hand, the owl grew half as tall again, stood up as stiff as a poker, closed its eyes so that there was only the smallest slit to peep through – as you are in the habit of doing when told to shut your eyes at hide—and—seek – and said in a doubtful voice:

‘There is no owl.’

Then it shut its eyes entirely and looked the other way.

‘It is only a boy,’ said Merlyn.

‘There is no boy,’ said the owl hopefully, without turning round.

2. Rafael Behr (a.k.a. “Contributor Namy”) in today’s Guardian:

The heckles in the House of Commons can be as revealing as the speeches. When the prime minister was taking questions about her Brexit plans on Monday, Anna Soubry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe, asked about the no-deal scenario – whether the UK would “jump off the cliff”. At which point a male voice, dripping with derision, chimed in: “There is no cliff!”

Behr’s article is worth the trip, for illuminating us on the desiderata of the Tory head-bangers:

Interrogate the Brexit no-dealers on detail and they concede that their plan hinges on a doctrine of pain for gain. They advocate the abandonment of tariffs, inviting the world’s exporters to flood Britain with their wares. Thus would a beacon of free trade be lit on Albion’s shores, inspiring others to repent of their protectionist tendencies. This might bring cheap produce to supermarket shelves (consumer gain) but sabotage UK farmers, who would be undercut by an influx of American and Antipodean meat (producer pain).

Manufacturers would suffer too, but that is an intended consequence of opening the doors to invigorating winds of competition. The whole point is to sweep away inefficiency and blow down zombie businesses while fanning the flames of innovation. In this model, the UK economy is a vast pre-Thatcher coalfield that refuses to accept its obsolescence and must be made to confront it by force. If the timid will not jump into the future, they must be pushed.

Sadly that would take down the Irish economy with that of the UK. In the small matter of €1.3 billion of Irish exports to the UK each month, a fair chunk is essential chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

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Filed under Comment is Free, Conservative Party policy., EU referendum, Europe, fiction, films, Guardian, politics, Tories.

Hammond organ

Whatever I do this day must start with a sigh of gratitude.

I wake. I reach for the iPad (to see if the orange-haired one has gone thermo-nuclear yet) and expect to find the e-mail morning briefings, which invariably come with tortuously-punned headlines.

Much of the time Stephen Bush, for the New Statesman, delivers the most groan-worthy. Paul Waugh, batting for HuffPo’s Waugh Zone, is always a worthy contender, and seems lately to have upped his always-fine game.

Today, though, Waugh rescued me (don’t even try, Fontella!) from a continued irritant-verging-on-agony. Hence the gratitude.

The story starts here:

As I became progressively hard-of-hearing, I compensated with internalised sound. That and ever-more-expensive headphones (currently a pair of Sony MD-R noise-cancellers).

By Monday morning I had a severe dose of the ever-threatening ear-worm. This was Cast Your Fate to the Wind.

That was OK by me in itself. Except I kept trying to keep on the proper channel to the authentic Vince Guaraldi original:

When I go, I wanna go like … well, if not Elsie, at least like Vince, or Monk, or Joe and Cannonball or whoever is titillating the ossicles at that terminus ad Queen.

However much I tried to keep on track with Guaraldi, it kept jumping to that soft-core version, done in a London studio by studio musicians, and — even then — far, far too good for the pop market:

Desperate measures needed. So I tried to switch to Quincy Jones having a bash:

That almost worked, until I arrived at the insistent Dum-Dum-Dum riff. Unless it is done as subtly as Guaraldi did, I hear morse-code Dah-dah-dah (the letter “O”) — and I’m back with Sounds Orchestral.

Ta-rah! Waugh to the rescue!

There matters rested, repetitively until this Wednesday morning. Here comes Paul Waugh’s opener: he’s speculating on PMQs, and a possible response to the Chancellor:

Philip Hammond’s new Times article in which the Chancellor warns Brexiteers he won’t necessarily dole out huge sums on ‘no deal’ preparations. “We will only spend it when it’s responsible to do so,” he says. No.10 sees this as a statement of typical Treasury caution ahead of a Budget, but others see Hammond smacking down Cabinet colleagues who told the Sun yesterday they wanted billions to spend on things like new port facilities at Dover. Boris allies will want to know why Hammond’s been allowed to stir things up again, while their man is sat on.

That didn’t sort out the acoustics, until Waugh cracked it:

Hammond sounds like he’s egging on the PM to face down the no-dealers, while simultaneously offering them the illusion of preparations. Indeed, Brexit sometimes reminds me of the Beatles’ song ‘Yesterday’, the melody of which appeared to Paul McCartney one night in a dream. He had no lyrics, so came up with the working opening of ‘Scrambled eggs/Oh my baby how I love your legs/’. Brexit is currently a tune without lyrics. But the words are going to have be written soon if it’s to become an enduring British classic.

Which has caused the new ear-worm problem.

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