Thursday, December 29, 2011

A couple of pieces of news.

i) The NHS wants more sick old people to be cared for (or neglected by the NHS) in their homes, "freeing up" hospital beds.

ii) The government is going to allow to NHS hospitals to assign 49 percent of their beds to private patients.

No connection of course.

Still more than half of beds will be reserved for NHS patients, so don't call it privatisation, not even creeping privatisation. And I'm sure there'll be quango created to ensure that the Hospitals don't go above the 49 percent "freeing up" (Christ! I hate that stupid expression), Only like all the Of---s (Ofsted, Ofcom, etc.), it will turn out to be toothless, even an arm of the privatisation as non-privatisation flim-flam. Later the 49 percent will turn out to be a "target", and not to be taken too seriously.
'Twas Christmas Day in the harem
The eunuchs were sitting on chairs
Watching the Vestal Virgins
Combing their pubic hairs.
When suddenly Father Christmas
Came striding through the halls,
And said, "What do you want for Christmas?"
And the eunuchs cried out "BALLS!"

An old army song,sung to the tune of the "Eton Boating Song". There is another verse about the sexual proclivities of the camel, but we'll draw a veil over that one.
A little seasonal ribaldry to get me back in the mood for blogging.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Recently Alan Hansen got in hot water when he talked on the telly of 'coloured' footballers. When his faux pas was pointed out he apologised immediately.
A couple of black players wondered out loud what colour Mr. Hansen imagined them to be.
I don't know who wrote the following lines. They are in French and not too serious, but the sense probably comes through. If I find an English version I'll add it later. No title -

Quand je suis né, j'étais noir.
Quand j'ai grandi, j'étais noir.
Quand j'ai peur, je suis noir.
Quand je vais au soleil, je suis noir.
Quand je suis malade, je suis noir.
Quand je me blesse, je reste noir.

Tandis que toi homme blanc,
quand tu es né, tu étais rose,
quand tu as grandi, tu es devenu blanc,
quand tu vas au soleil, tu deviens rouge,
quand tu as froid, tu deviens bleu,
quand tu as peur, tu deviens vert,
quand tu es malade, tu deviens jaune,
quand tu te blesses, tu deviens violet à cet endroit

et après ça, tu m'appeles homme de couleur.

I have some sympathy for Hansen. When I was young - he too, probably - 'coloured' was the accepted term, 'black' considered in bad taste. Even since black has replaced 'coloured' I've heard black West Indians use the latter term. And the NAACP in the United States retains its original title.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The following poem is by Michael Rosen. It is from a collection called "Fighters for Life" (2007), and has no title. I would refer to it by the title "Promised Land".

A family arrived and said that they had papers
to prove that his house was theirs.
- No, no, said the man, my people have always lived here.
My father, grandfather ... and look in the garden,
My great-grandfather planted that.
- No, no, said the family, look at the documents.

There was a stack of them.

- Where do I start? said the man.
- No need to read the beginning, they said,
Turn to the page marked 'Promised Land'.
- Are they legal? he said. Who wrote them?
-God, they said, God wrote them, look
here come his tanks.
"Eventually, just as we were getting restless and starting to tut-tut, in they trooped to a shambling step, a picture of latter-day bohemianism, a gang, I felt, with little respect for the great literature and fine art housed at The Huntington, protected by locks and alarms and earthquake stabilizers. I recognized at once (from his many appearances on television current affairs programmes) Christopher Hitchens, the transatlantic pundit. A red hot poker in print, in the flesh he seemed a pathetic creature, as he struggled past us, a person you needed to stay clear of in case he might suddenly lash out. His long floppy corduroy jacket could not conceal the shirt tail hanging down over the seat of his jeans. His bullet eyes, piercing through a film of blood, darted around the half-empty room, giving our little group a curl of the upper lip and a glance as if to acknowledge that he recognized the land of the crass but at least there might perhaps be some potential customers present.
"He was part of a shaky line of literary lions but I recognized none of the others. Where was Martin Amis? I continued to fix on Hitchens, a loathing enveloping me like a nasty cold. Led onto the dais by an official, he flopped down into a chair, his belly parting his jacket, his eyes closing contentedly, a hand shaking noticeably as it was raised to push back a stray lock of greasy hair."

"... I attacked with my follow-up question (something you're allowed to do in America): 'You have made no mention of the finest of all modern British comic novelists'. Hitchens performed his lip-curling:'And who might that be, in your opinion?' 'Julian McLaren Ross', I answered loudly and with relish. "I've heard the name but never read a word of him. Next..........'"
(Ian Whitcomb)

Cavalier dismissal of the work of Julian MacLaren-Ross - one more reason to despise Hitchens.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

(I can't help messing with this post. Sort of a work in progress.)

House of Commons public accounts committee: You gave Goldmann Sachs £20 million of our money.

Her Majesty's Tax Avoidance Facilitators: No we didn't, your conclusion is based on incomplete information.

HoCPAC: Then give us all the information.

HMTAF: We can't do that, it's confidential.

HoCPAC: So how can we know what you're up to?

HMTAF: You'll just have to trust us.

Jackals of the Press:What is The Government going to do about this, Mr Spokesman?

Government Spokesman: HMTAF has the Prime Minister's full support.

JotP: Based on what, Mr. Spokesman?

GS: Based on our just having to trust them.

First Goldmann Sachs Oligarch: Anybody know the current price of a Public Accounts Committee?

Second Goldmann Sachs Oligarch: You can ignore them, we already bought the government.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The name of the poem Mná na hÉireann became well known after the release of Stanley Kubrick's film "Barry Lyndon", released in 1975. An air, composed by Seán Ó Riada and recorded by the Chieftans, was part of the musical score. The air was the setting for the words of the 18th century Ulster poet, Peadar Ó Doirnín. Later these original lyrics were recorded by a variety of singers, mainly female, though the sentiments expressed are clearly those of a male.
The following English language version is by the poet Michael Davitt. It does not appear to be literal; but who am I to criticise the work of a Gaeilgeoir?


There's a woman in Erin who'd give me shelter and my fill of ale;
There's a woman in Erin who'd prefer my strains to strings being played;
There's a woman in Erin and nothing would please her more
Than to see me burning or in a grave lying cold.

There's a woman in Eirinn who'd be mad with envy if I was kissed
By another on fair-day, they have strange ways, but I love them all;
There are women I'll always adore, battalions of women and more
And there's this sensuous beauty but she's shackled to an ugly boar.

There's a woman who promised if I'd wander with her I'd find some gold
A woman in night dress with a loveliness worth more than the woman
Who vexed Ballymoyer and the plain of Tyrone;
And the only cure for my pain I'm sure is the ale-house down the road.

(Sean Ó Doirnín, d.1769)

Tá bean in Éirinn a phronnfadh séad damh is mo sháith le n-ól
Is tá bean in Éirinn is ba binne léithe mo ráfla ceoil
Nó seinm théid; atá bean in Éirinn is níorbh fhearr léi beo
Mise ag léimnigh nó leagtha i gcré is mo tharr faoi fhód.

Tá bean in Éirinn a bheadh ag éad liom mur bhfaighinn ach póg
Ó bhean ar aonach, nach ait an scéala, is mo dháimh féin leo;
Tá bean ab fhearr liom nó cath is céad dhíobh nach bhfagham go deo
Is tá cailín spéiriúil ag fear gan Bhéarla, dubhghránna cróin

Tá bean a déarfadh dá siúlainn léithe go bhfaighinn an t-ór
Is tá bean 'na léine is is fearr a méin nó na táinte bó
Le bean a bhuairfeadh Baile an Mhaoir agus clár Thír Eoghain,
Is ní fhaicim leigheas ar mo ghalar féin ach scáird a dh'ól

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Latest News: Salah Hamouri to be released today.

Update 2053 hours: according to the latest bulletin Salah is free and with his parents. Only a few thousand more hostages to liberate.
Professor AbuKhalil on the Barstool Bombardier.
The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: Hitchens: I debated whether to write about someone who agitated for war and for racism against Arabs/Muslims.  I never met this man, and never liked ...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What has happened to Thankgodimatheist's blog, 'Angry Arab's Comments Section'? When I try to log in I get a message that it has been removed.
If you read this, TG, leave a message.

Friday, December 16, 2011

(Jonathan Swift)

Let me thy Properties explain,
A rotten Cabbin, dropping Rain;
Chimnies with Scorn rejecting Smoak;
Stools, Tables, Chairs, and Bed-stede broke:
Here Elements have lost their Uses,
Air ripens not, nor Earth produces:
In vain we make poor Sheelah toil,
Fire will not roast, nor Water boil.
Thro' all the Vallies, Hills, and Plains,
The Goddess Want in Triumph reigns;
And her chief Officers of State,
Sloth, Dirt, and Theft around her wait.

Full title, "To Quilca, a Country House in no very good Repair, where the supposed Author, and some of his Friends, spent a Summer, in the Year 1725"
Quilca, or Cuilcagh, was the home of Swift's friend, Thomas Sheridan, grandfather of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Thomas S. was described by one who knew him as, "ill-starred, good natured, improvident ... a punster, a quibbler, a diffler and a wit ... his pen and his fiddlestick were in continual motion, and yet to little or no purpose." He was a clergyman, too outspoken to retain any position in the church. When he obtained any money he found himself "besheridaned" (his own coinage), that is, surrounded by importunate kinsfolk. County Cavan is Sheridan territory.
'Sheelah', the name suggests, would have been a household servant, Catholic, peasant, and in language a Gael. The Sheridan family had Protestant and Catholic branches, the latter having to remove to the Continent in order to avoid descent into extreme poverty. Their landowning cousin did not prosper in spite of conforming to the established religion.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"It's dark out, Jack, the stations out there don't identify themselves, we're in it raw — blind like burned rats, it's running out all around us, the footprints of the beast, one nobody has any notion of. The white & vacant eyes of something above there, something that doesn't know we exist. I smell heartbreak up there, Jack, a heartbreak at the center of things, & in which we don't figure at all."
Kenneth Patchen, poet, born 100 years ago today.
"Mingus Ah Um", powerful back-up there.

Photograph and poem lifted from "anti-CopyRite" Daily Bleed.
Norman Mailer on Gore Vidal's homosexuality*: "As a homosexual he's very much a man ... in sex, he does it ... No one does anything to him."

When I read Mark Thompson's fulsome, and spewsome, praise of Dirty Harry Clarkson and his juvenile killing spree fantasies I wonder what hold Clarkson has on Thompson and his managerial coterie. I also wonder at times if one of them's doing it and the other's having it done.
The search for an explanation goes on.

*Or, as Vidal himself would insist, homosexualism.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Some unconfirmed news on political prisoner Salah Hamouri, whose original release date was the 28th of last month -

Benjamin Netanyahu was contacted by French President Sarkozy (Salah is a French citizen), and informed him that everything depended on the Grand Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and his agreement to the release of Salah at the second exchange of prisoners linked to the release of Gilad Shalit (Salah was accused of plotting the Rabbi's assassination).
Sarkozy wrote to the Rabbi, and the French Ambassador to Israel, Christophe Bigot, met Salah, then Rabbi Yosef. The latter expressed his agreement. This agreement has been confirmed by the Israeli Minister of the Interior. The final decision on Salah will be made by Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet, and should be known by the 18th December.
"It is not an exaggeration to say Cameron's priorities lay with the City of London, not the mass of the British people he was placed in office to serve. Although it is worse than that alone, as it was the casino and tax dodging end of the city which the British prime minister tried to protect. The very people who wrecked the world economy. Cameron, and his closest colleague George Osborne should forever be known as the the first, and deputy first minister of the ‘city’ of London, which incidentally despite what the rightwing media claims, makes up only 7.5% of the UK’s GDP."
(Mick Hall)
Dave Hartnett, the man who gave £20 million* of our money to Goldman Sachs, is to retire.
That's Dave Hartnett who gave £5 million of our money to Vodaphone.

I wonder what he'll be doing now.
Going to work for Goldman Sachs - 3/1
Going to work for Vodaphone - 5/1
Going to work for some other firm he helped - 7/1
Taking up post as advisor** to George (tax dodger) Osbourne 9/1
Cultivating his garden - 50/1

*Apparently he only admits to giving them £8 million of our money.

** Alongside Philip Green the billionaire who pays no tax at all.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

(Hugh MacDiarmid)

It is a God-damned lie to say that these
Saved, or knew, anything worth any man's pride.
They were professional murderers and they took
Their blood money and impious risks and died.
In spite of all their kind some elements of worth
With difficulty persist here and there on earth.

A reply to A.E.Housman's "Epitaph ..." (here)

MacDiarmid served, as a conscript, in World War I. Housman was too old.

(Hugh MacDiarmid)

A war to save civilization you say
Then what have you to do with it, pray?
Some attempt to acquire it would show truer love
Than fighting for something you know nothing of.

Today's wars are fought for freedom, democracy, human rights.
Killing people to civilise them is no longer fashionable; we find other reasons.

Friday, December 09, 2011

(Boris Vian)

Mr. President
I'm writing you a letter
that perhaps you will read
If you have the time.
I've just received
my call-up papers
to leave for the front
Before Wednesday night.
Mr. President
I do not want to go
I am not on this earth
to kill wretched people.
It's not to make you mad
I must tell you
my decision is made
I am going to desert.

Since I was born
I have seen my father die
I have seen my brothers leave
and my children cry.
My mother has suffered so,
that she is in her grave
and she laughs at the bombs
and she laughs at the worms.
When I was a prisoner
they stole my wife
they stole my soul
and all my dear past.
Early tomorrow morning
I will shut my door
on these dead years
I will take to the road.

I will beg my way along
on the roads of France
from Brittany to Provence
and I will cry out to the people:
Refuse to obey
refuse to do it
don't go to war
refuse to go.
If blood must be given
go give your own
you are a good apostle
Mr. President.
If you go after me
warn your police
that I'll be unarmed
and that they can shoot.
(English version by Gilles D'Ayméry
and Jan Baughman)


Monsieur le Président
Je vous fais une lettre
Que vous lirez peut-être
Si vous avez le temps
Je viens de recevoir
Mes papiers militaires
Pour partir à la guerre
Avant mercredi soir
Monsieur le Président
Je ne veux pas la faire
Je ne suis pas sur terre
Pour tuer des pauvres gens
C'est pas pour vous fâcher
Il faut que je vous dise
Ma décision est prise
Je m'en vais déserter

Depuis que je suis né
J'ai vu mourir mon père
J'ai vu partir mes frères
Et pleurer mes enfants
Ma mère a tant souffert
Elle est dedans sa tombe
Et se moque des bombes
Et se moque des vers
Quand j'étais prisonnier
On m'a volé ma femme
On m'a volé mon âme
Et tout mon cher passé
Demain de bon matin
Je fermerai ma porte
Au nez des années mortes
J'irai sur les chemins

Je mendierai ma vie
Sur les routes de France
De Bretagne en Provence
Et je dirai aux gens:
Refusez d'obéir
Refusez de la faire
N'allez pas à la guerre
Refusez de partir
S'il faut donner son sang
Allez donner le vôtre
Vous êtes bon apôtre
Monsieur le Président
Si vous me poursuivez
Prévenez vos gendarmes
Que je n'aurai pas d'armes
Et qu'ils pourront tirer.

One of the best anti-war poems/songs. There are plenty of sung versions online, including Vian's own (corny arrangement). A singable English version given a British context is here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

My old comrade John T., alias "Homebrew", who died a year ago today. I posted a poem in his memory at the time. I post it again.

If sadly thinking, with spirits sinking,
Could more than drinking my cares compose,
A cure for sorrow from sighs I'd borrow
And hope tomorrow would end my woes.
But as in wailing there's nought availing
And Death unfailing will strike the blow
Then for that reason, and for a season,
Let us be merry before we go.

To joy a stranger, a way-worn ranger,
In every danger my course I've run;
Now hope all ending, and death befriending,
His last aid lending, my cares are done.
No more a rover, or hapless lover,
My griefs are over - my glass runs low;
Then for that reason, and for a season,
Let us be merry before we go.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Goodbye, Sócrates.

"Até já, Doutor. Tá confirmada aquela próxima cerveja. Vai na paz."
"At a time when most people were still afraid to speak out against the regime, he politicised football in a way no other player has even attempted, before or since. And he was as proud of his team's valiant contribution in helping dismantle the dictatorship as he was his considerable football achievements. At the end of 1982, Corinthians won the São Paulo state championship with "Democracia" printed on the back of their black shirts. Sócrates said it was "perhaps the most perfect moment I ever lived. And I'm sure it was for 95% of [my teammates] too".

Saturday, December 03, 2011

A poem by a Fellow Worker -

(Richard Myers)
Friend, have ya heard the corporate lies--
They vow to double your dough?
They solemnly swear the stock will rise,
You'll watch it climb before your eyes
As your savings grow and grow?

Have you learned too late the corporate rule:
The boss already cashed?
Have ya felt just like a bloody fool
'Cause ya bought him that new swimming pool
While all your dreams are trashed?

Have you watched him haul away the loot
And ya know that you've been had?
Have they given you the golden boot
While the boss straps on his parachute
And it leaves you fightin' mad?

If you're sick to death of corporate lies
But ya don't know how to approach it,
Then fellow worker, organize.
Prepare the boss a big surprise
And stop ingesting bullshit.

No more the thief, the parasite!
No more of this abuse.
When workers everywhere unite
The bosses we shall disinvite,
We'll keep what we produce!
"... we might observe that there are two kinds of jokes about incitement to violence. There's the kind you make on The One Show, which sells your DVD, and there's the kind you make on your obscure little Facebook page that gets you a four-year sentence, as happened during the summer unrest with a pair in Northwich who didn't even turn up to their own "riot" (nor did anybody except the police). Or perhaps you prefer the chap convicted for a joke tweet about Doncaster airport."
(Marina Hyde)

Friday, December 02, 2011

I feel a poetry season coming on.
I just bought a book described as collected poems of Sorley MacLean. We've sampled the great man before on these pages (here and here) and I'm happy to have access to more of his work, some previously unpublished. Here's a short, angry assault on a deserving target -

To the Pope who offered thanks to God for the fall of Barcelona
Deceitful pious whore of a bitch
who carries Christ's tiara,
around this time last year you were wallowing
in children's blood and holiness.

Don Phàp a thug buidheachas do Dhia airson tuiteam Bharsalòna
A ghalla shiùrsaich shlìom, dhiadhiadh,
's tu giùlan tiara Chrìosda,
mun àm seo 'n-uiridh bha thu blianadh
am fuil naoidhean 's nad dhiadhachd.

The English language version is by Christopher Whyte, editor, along with Emma Dymock, of this collection.
I'm assuming that the Pope referred to is Pius xii, later known as Hitler's Pope. Pius xi was on his last legs when Barcelona was taken by Franco and his rebel forces, and died a couple of weeks later.

Another poem, this time translated by the Emma Dymock -

Scotus Erigena
Did you hear the tale
about Scotus Erigena
who spoke out against the Election
for two days, without tiring;
and who also abolished Hell
and Sin with the unfailing vehemence
and subtlety of his argument
before he was forced to fall silent?
Pity a voice like his was not heard
among the flock of seceders.

Scotus Erigena
An cuala sibh an sgeulachd
mun Scotach Erigena
a labhair an aghaidh an Taghaidh
dà latha, gun sgìths air;
's a chuir às do Ifrinn cuideachd
's don Pheacadh aig dìorras
is eagnaighachd a labhairt
mun deach a stad chum sìthe?
Nach bochd nach cualas a leithid
am badaibh nan Sisìdear

I take it that 'Election' refers to predestination.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

So Shithead apologised - well no, he didn't. He said IF people were offended by his repetition of the Cameron dinner party table talk, he'd be happy to apologise. So he hasn't apologised, has he?
There is, of course, no chance of the BBC's unofficial spokesman on industrial relations getting the push. The ONE Show (one's enough) is live, according to the BBC. Live shows, we all know, go out with a minute or more's delay, in case anyone says anything reprehensible. So the BBC OK'd this incitement to violence.
Later, when asked if the corporation would apologise for offending millions, spokesperson stated that no comment would be made.
Then the manure started to pile up, and a mealy-mouthed semi-apology slithered out.
Let's try to imagine what would have happened if a statement of this nature had been made by a Muslim about Christians or Jews. I believe there's a law against such inflammatory speech.

The talking turd is on a million quid a year, and, as has been pointed out he works in the public sector, i.e., at the BBC. But his job's safe, unlike those of hundreds of thousands of the poorly-paid people he wants to kill.

Addendum (2nd December): I knew it -
But Clarkson told the Times that he had informed the One Show's production team of the details of his joke. A BBC spokeswoman said last night: "Jeremy had a meeting with a One Show producer before appearing, as is standard for all guests. The meeting is to cover the topics that will be discussed and the expectations the show has around issues such as tone and balance, and it was made clear where those boundaries lay."

So, passed for tone and balance by the BBC.