Friday, 29 January 2010

from The Spectator

The following is a short extract from the editorial in this week's Spectator, dated 30th January 2010, entitled Lies, and damned lies:

"Tony Blair's absence has not made the heart grow any fonder.   On the not-rare-enough occasions when he returns to our television screens, one feels an instinctive revulsion.   Here is the Prime Minister who was as uninterested in economics as he was in the conduct of warfare.   He ceded domestic power to an incompetent and reckless Chancellor and he is now accepting £200,000-a-year jobs with the banks with whom his government worked hand-in-glove.   No, there is no pleasure in seeing him again.   Especially as Britain starts to focus on the mess which he bequeathed."

My sentiments exactly!

"Mere numbers do not do justice to the financial crisis produced by the Blair-Brown era, or the economic quagmire from which Britain is still trying to escape".

Later in the editorial it is pointed out that "The national debt - which was £350 billion when Mr. Brown and Mr. Blair moved into Downing Street - will break through £1 trillion soon and is likely never to fall below this level.   The cost of this will be felt by generations.   The Conservatives should never let the public forget whose legacy this is".

Monday, 11 January 2010

London Snow

by Robert Bridges

When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
   In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
   Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
    Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
   Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
   All night it fell, and when full inches seven
It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
   The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
   Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marvelled – marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
   The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
   And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.
Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,
   They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze
Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;
   Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;
Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,
   “O look at the trees!” they cried, “O look at the trees!”
With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,
   Following along the white deserted way,
A country company long dispersed asunder:
   When now already the sun, in pale display
Standing by Paul’s high dome, spread forth below
   The sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.
For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;
   And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
   But even for them awhile no cares encumber
Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
   The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.

Friday, 8 January 2010

How Indeed?

Extract from article by Jeff Randall in today's Daily Telegraph:

"It would be fair to say that the views of the Daily Mirror and this column rarely travel in the same direction.   Yesterday, however, the Labour Party's staunchest supporter in the mainstream press got it absolutely right.

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt, it said, are "bumbling" failures, "dozy" rebels, whose "botched" plot to oust Gordon Brown was the "small-minded" treachery of two "famously self-important" but "washed-up" cowards.

In the playground of British politics, boomed the Mirror, Mr. Hoon is a blundering dunce and Miss Hewitt a hectoring nanny.   They are "stupid", "mad", "bonkers" and "crazy", Westminster's Dumb and Dumber.

No quibbles there - that just about sums them up.   Unfortunately it also prompts a question:  how did these clowns manage to secure top jobs at the heart of government for an entire decade?

Having demonstrated incompetence and perfidy, they are unfit to polish the Cabinet table, much less sit around it.   Yet while Mr. Hoon was running Defence (1999-2005) and Transport (2008-09), Miss Hewitt was in charge of Trade and Industry (2001-05) and the NHS (2005-07).  

No wonder we're in such a mess.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Let's Talk About the Weather

"When two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather".    So wrote Dr. Johnson in the 18th century, and it remains true today.   The weather is a topic of permanent interest to the English, and we discuss it endlessly, partly because our weather is so varied and unpredictable and partly because it is such a conversational ice-breaker.   If we want to be friendly to the girl at the supermarket check-out, or the woman at the bus-stop, or the man who comes to read the meter, there is no better subject for a short chat, without getting too deeply into anything.   It can cover awkward moments, or give us an excuse for entering into a longer conversation.   And when we are going through the current conditions, it is genuinely interesting to know how people are getting on in other parts of the country.
W. S. Gilbert knew all about the English and the weather when he wrote the lyric in The Pirates of Penzance:   "How beautifully blue the sky!".

Foreigners think it odd that we are so obsessed - but foreigners on the whole don't have our weather!   Where would we be without it?