Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Fear God and Honour The King" - David Muffett OBE 1919-2007

"(and hardly anyone else besides)"

They don't make them like this any more.

A huge, lumbering bear of a man, 6ft 2in tall and nearly as broad, with a booming voice and bristling moustache, Muffett looked rather like a cross between Falstaff and Captain Mainwaring.

He spent 16 years in the colonial service in northern Nigeria, where he claimed to have been one of only two Britons whose name passed into the native Hausa language: "Aka yi masa mafed" (literally "One did to him Muffett"), meaning "Justice caught up with him".

In 1960 he apprehended the Tigwe of Vwuip, a northern Nigerian tribal chief who had eaten the local tax collector. The Tigwe had apparently been so impressed by the man's ability to acquire money on demand that he had — understandably — decided to try to assimilate his powers. It was not so much this particular misdemeanour that bothered Muffett; what really worried him was the fact that a UN delegation was due to visit the area, and "I wasn't about to have one of them eaten. I considered that it would be a highly retrogressive step." The Tigwe, who was surprised to learn that the colonial authorities disapproved of his eating habits, was duly sent to jail — but only "until the delegation had departed beyond the reach of his culinary aspirations."

Muffett often seemed to have magical powers of his own. He was once shot at with poisoned arrows, all of which miraculously missed his bulky frame, though one lodged in the pommel of his saddle. On another occasion a witch doctor who had pronounced a curse upon him fell down dead the next day, an event which, Muffett recalled, greatly enhanced his standing among the local population.

Another imperialist racist ?

Muffett was proud of the achievements of empire but contemptuous of British government policy towards Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, maintaining that "all the Foreign Office cared about were the white settlers. They never gave a damn for the indigenous population." He was deeply hostile to apartheid.

And he feared no one when he retired and became an English Tory.

In 1987 he intervened during the education debate at the Tory party conference to warn Baker that the government's obsession with disciplining Left-wing councils was threatening chaos in the excellent services run by Conservative councils, and that "immense and lasting damage" could be done to millions of children.

In 1992, disillusioned with what he saw as the Conservatives' betrayal of local government, he left the party, explaining in an open letter to his electors in Hartlebury, Ombersley and Fernhill Heath, near Droitwich, that although he could no longer support the government, he remained "a High Tory of the old school, one who 'fears God and honours the King' (and hardly anyone else besides)". He was re-elected in 1993 as an Independent.

It's an indictment of the Tories that they couldn't keep a figure with such qualities.

Later in life, setting a fine example of the sort of old-fashioned local government Tory who believed in leading from the front and running a tight ship, Muffett served as chairman of Hereford and Worcester education committee from 1982 to 1993. Even though budgetary constraints were tight, he was determined to improve the pupil-teacher ratio, even if that meant drastic surgery in other areas. At his insistence, the committee took the controversial step of withdrawing funding from the county school meals service in order to pay for around 100 new teachers. While many schools lost their in-house catering service, he encouraged the staff, with one-off grants, to set up on their own as private caterers, which many did successfully.

The Times Educational Supplement observed: "Depending on your taste, he runs the most cost-effective/mean education authority in the country" — a verdict which Muffett took as a compliment.

Muffett gave short shrift to incompetents and "pointy-headed bureaucrats" and took a tough line with the teaching unions. In 1987, after the NAS/UWT had called a half-day strike without giving notice, he sued the union for £48,000 damages under the Industrial Relations Act and won. Afterwards, walking away from the High Court, he was accosted while lighting up a celebratory cigar by a tabloid journalist. "Are you anti-union, Dr Muffett?" the man demanded to know. "I'm not anti-union, Buster," Muffett replied, giving the man a friendly jab in the ribs. "I'm pro-kids."

All this and a doctor of philosophy, author of several definitive books on Africa, big game hunter and professor of African studies. What a life.

As his local paper put it "No doubt St Peter has already been advised on the Muffett way of doing things".

UPDATE - his son Alec Muffett has a blog.

Dreadlock Congo Bongo I

Congolese, Cameroonian (?), French. All doing the jobs the natives won't do. I know postmen are badly paid, but ...

Cyprian Noumema
Charge Conspiracy to defraud
Sentence 21 months
DoB 15 October 1980 (aged 26)
Occupation Unemployed
Address No Fixed Abode
Nationality Congolese
Mobile phone records link Noumema to John Crimee, a Leeds postman, and fingerprint evidence links him to a number of stolen giros cashed in the West Midlands. He is the link between Leeds and Birmingham.

John Crimee*
Charge Conspiracy to defraud
* Failed to appear in court. Warrant issued for his arrest.
DoB 31 July 1976 (aged 31)
Occupation Postal worker
Address 30 Scott Hall Avenue Leeds LS7 3JE
Nationality French
Crimee was employed as a postman in Leeds from February 2005 and stole almost 350 giros, most of which were cashed in the West Midlands. When arrested, he had 49 giros in his possession. From October 2005 until the day of his arrest more than £10,000 in cash was deposited in his Halifax Building Society account as payment for his part in the conspiracy.

Massamba Lubamba
Charge Conspiracy to Defraud
Sentence 4 years
DoB 2 August 1972 (aged 35)
Occupation Postal worker
Address 12 Baldmore Lake Road, Erdington, Birmingham
Nationality Congolese
Lubamba was employed as a postman in Birmingham from November 2002 and stole around 500 giros. He was arrested on 20 December 2006. During 2005 and 2006 around £5,000 in cash was paid into his bank accounts. In addition, he spent almost £900 on designer clothes over two days in July 2006, despite having a weekly wage of just £250.

Basimo Ngolo
Charge Conspiracy to Defraud
Sentence 3 1/2 years
DoB 24th June 1967 (aged 40)
Occupation Unemployed
Address Flat 7, Trinity Court, Aston, Birmingham B6 6AL
Nationality Congolese
Ngolo had a central role as the forger and was at the centre of the conspiracy. When arrested, in addition to post office receipts and stolen bank and credit cards, investigators found a typewriter at his address which has been linked to a large number of stolen giros from both Leeds and Birmingham. Investigators also found a 'manipulation kit' containing scalpels, crayons, glue, tippex and typewriter ribbons.

Willy Mazele
Charge Conspiracy to defraud and 3 attempts to obtain property by deception
Sentence 21 months
DoB 1 February 1972 (aged 35)
Occupation Unemployed
Address 16 Geach Tower, Uxbridge Street, Newtown, Birmingham
Nationality Congolese
Mazele would visit post offices, or arrange for others to do so, and present the stolen and altered giros to obtain cash.

Bridgette Nawal
Charge Conspiracy to Defraud and Obtaining property by deception.
Sentence 12 months
DoB 15 May 1973 (aged 34)
Occupation Unemployed
Address 21 South Road, Hockley, Birmingham
Nationality Cameroonian
Nawal was employed by the conspirators to visit post offices and present the stolen and altered giros to obtain cash. When arrested investigators found that she had £8,000 in a bank account under an assumed name, and had purchased designer goods from Prada, Luis Vuitton and Harvey Nicholls, despite having no apparent income.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hot Babes

And they say scientists are all nerds.

"Geoffrey Miller and his team at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, compared the earnings of lap dancers who were menstruating naturally with those of dancers taking the hormonal contraceptive pill. During the non-fertile periods of their menstrual cycle, both sets of dancers earned similar tips. But when naturally cycling lap dancers entered their fertile period they earned significantly more in tips than their co-workers on the pill."

The aptly named Randy Thornhill is an expert in women on heat.

The study does appear to show that the dancers somehow advertise their fertility to men, who then consider them more attractive during this fertile phase, as reflected in their tips. How they advertise, however, and whether they do it consciously, is unclear. "We don't know the mechanism of attraction," says Thornhill, who is also at the University of New Mexico but was not involved with the study. "Are the men detecting the scent of oestrus? Or does the women's behaviour change?" he asks.

"Previous research has shown that women's faces, scent and clothing become more attractive in oestrus," Miller notes. For example, earlier this year, Martie Haselton at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that women were judged to dress more attractively during their fertile periods, although the correlation was slight. Other studies show women become more confident during oestrus, says Thornhill. In the context of lap dancing, that may subtly change their behaviour and make them more appealing to clients.

If the abstract is correct, the differences are large.

Normally cycling participants earned about US$335 per 5-h shift during estrus, US$260 per shift during the luteal phase, and US$185 per shift during menstruation. By contrast, participants using contraceptive pills showed no estrous earnings peak. These results constitute the first direct economic evidence for the existence and importance of estrus in contemporary human females, in a real-world work setting. These results have clear implications for human evolution, sexuality, and economics.

Certainly they do for the economics of lapdancing. The tips for a girl who's (biologically) ready to become pregnant are double than for a girl who's menstruating. How do the guys (subconsciously) know ?

If it's scent, there's a fortune to be made for the first cosmetics house to get it into a perfume and market it.

UPDATE - Susan says "I'm sure it's scent. Isn't there research where a load of girls watched a film, then a smaller number of men saw the next showing ? The men tended to choose the seats the fertile girls had been sitting in". Can't find the research on the web, though.

Polly and Gordon "to split"

Never mind Britney and Kevin, the really turbulent relationship stuff is here.

In 1994 Tony Blair and Gordon Brown purged socialism when they forged the New Labour project: Clause Four was indeed an archaic nonsense. This week Brown and Darling all but killed off social democracy too.

It was only a couple of months ago that a new age of plutocrat-bashing was dawning. Then the first small doubts on honeymoon. Now this could mean irretrieveable breakdown.

I'd watch out, Gordon. Hell hath no fury like an unsatisfied Ms Toynbee.

Stealing The Infrastructure

Used to be the sort of thing that happened in war-torn Third World countries, or Balkan states after the overthrow of communism.

Not any more.

Same in the States, too, as FaceRight reports.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself ..

The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians, Islamic scholars told the Pope today.

In a letter addressed directly to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, 138 prominent Muslim scholars said that finding common ground between the world's biggest two religions was not "simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue".

The letter, which is entitled A Common Word between Us and You, says: "Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world's population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians."

Rasputin will be well up for it, I'm sure. He might even agree that no mullahs in same-sex relationships be appointed to British mosques for a year or two.

"With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world's inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake," the letter says.

It adds that the Qur'an entreats Muslims to treat Christians and Jews with particular friendship, though it also warns against aggression from Christians.

"We say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes," the letter says.

"With Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before", eh ? But there are quite a lot of places where Muslims and Christians aren't intertwined - we can start with Saudi Arabia, followed by a host of countries where Muslims and Christians used to be intertwined - until the Christians were driven out. Palestine for starters.

Lets take apart that concept a bit more. Where Christian and Moslem are intertwined with a Christian minority, where's any conflict coming from ? Are the Copts rioting or letting off bombs in Egypt ? No, they're being attacked and stabbed. Turkey, where the Christian minority is tiny after the events of 1917. Are they rioting or setting off bombs ? No, they're being shot and stabbed.

Where Christian and Moslem are intertwined with a Moslem minority, say in Britain or France, where's any conflict coming from ?

To ask the question is to answer it.

You can't help feeling that what's being presented to Christian leaders is a not very cryptic warning, accompanied by an invitation to surrender.

Rasputin's signature in the railway carriage is pretty much a foregone conclusion, although Bishops Sentamu and Nazir-Ali may not be so keen. But what of our Pope, Benedict ? He's tough enough with the CoE on doctrine, but whatever faults they may have (and they are many), they're not likely to react with violence. What will he say to this invitation ? Please pray for him.

(btw, the Armenian massacres of the Ottoman Empire are much in the news at present. Although Johnny Turk was a reasonably fair fighter against uniformed opponents, he didn't seem to behave very well when confronted with popular resistance. If the much-maligned Black and Tans had behaved like the Turks in Bulgaria, there'd have been a lot of abandoned villages in Cork and Limerick)


Saith Geoffrey Chaucer.


What Are British Values ?

Asks Prospect of 50 'writers and intellectuals', some of whom are worth a quote or two. You can comment on their blog :

Paul Barker Journalist

In his great work The Civilising Process, the German Jewish sociologist Norbert Elias (1897-1990)—who took refuge in Britain from the Nazis—made it clear that the highest achievement in any society was to evolve ways of resolving differences without resort to violence. This achievement, where it is attained, is a spectrum which ranges from everyday civility to the protections of legislation. The laws are part of an entire ethos. They do not, in themselves, create that ethos; but they do help to ratify it. On the Elias criterion, Britain is much less civilised than when he wrote.
Roy Jenkins' civilising mission is complete. Welcome to post-Christian Britain.

Rodric Braithwaite Ex-diplomat

For the future wellbeing of these islands, the important task is not to engage in philosophical debate about values, but by legislation where necessary, and by common everyday practice, to enable everyone who lives here to feel they that they share as of right a common allegiance and a common citizenship. If you can do that—and it is obviously not at all easy—the values will take care of themselves.

Clueless. "Common everyday practice" is what we call culture - i.e. what we haven't got.

Lesley Chamberlain Writer

The real problem seems to me not values but that Britain has become a country that can’t enforce its own rules. Try asking someone in a designated quiet carriage on the train to switch his phone off. Britain’s social strength used to rest on unwritten rules passed down the generations, but this can no longer happen in a global society where experience differs so widely.
She agrees with Paul Barker.

Michael Collins Writer

... Whatever these values are, they were previously taken as a given. Rarely was there a need to define or document them. The prime minister argues this was because the relative stability of the nation meant there was no call for precision on what it means to be British. His desire to officially define “Britishness” for new arrivals and the nation’s rising generation comes at a time when it has little bearing on most of us. Actually, a time when many British citizens from all classes—notably those that never needed their citizenship prescribed—are heading for the airports in a desperate bid to escape, by emigrating.
When we had it, we didn't need to define it #1

Robert Colls Historian

Government thinking is muddled. It says we are a more stable society because we have been imprecise about our values, but at the same time need to be more precise if we wish to be more stable. It says we have drawn strength from an evolving constitution, but need a full programme of change if we wish to be stronger. It says national identity should be overarching, but is not clear what that identity is, and proposes a national “conversation” to find out. ... The British government proposes a “statement of values” setting out what binds us together. But if the values do bind us, why do we need a statement? And if they don’t bind us, in what sense are they our values?

National identity is different. It is an historical relationship, not a set of values. Not all nations have identities and only a few have them strong enough to exist more or less independently of the state. National identities, therefore, happen when nations see themselves as one, regardless of all that divides them, which can include the state. In the British case, national identity was built over a long line of political compromises at home, and a talent for military victory abroad. The result was an identity based on an overarching sense of English liberty at home and British power abroad. In such circumstances it was claimed that a written constitution was unnecessary. And so it proved. The remarkable thing was not that the modern British sustained a union of sentiment, but how well they sustained a union of sentiment. Only Catholic Ireland ran counter, and only decisively so late in the day.

Our current predicament is that the conditions in which this identity thrived have more or less disappeared. The state, whose job it is to secure the nation and express its identity, is no longer sure who that nation is. The old historical relationship, or at least its articulation, has ceased to matter, and British hegemony has ceased to exist. It was not that the British people ceased believing in this relationship; it is more that over a very short period its conditions evaporated.

At the same time, with mass immigration promoted by a metropolitan elite, the ethnic relationships of the country changed. To fill the historical vacuum, “diversity” became New Labour’s watchword. But diversity pleased no one and left nothing to build on. A mildly racist society was turned into an intensely racialised one. To say the least, slavery, imperialism, and Islamicism are not promising historical relationships on which to build a new national identity.
Brown ought to understand that for over 150 years the political class in this country has had it easy. Everything is going to get more difficult

Whatever happens, national identity will not go away because, except for the EuroUtopians, nation states show no sign of going away. So, like religion, the question is not whether national identity is true but whether it is useful. The government believes we are living between two identities—the national and the post-national. In the interim, expect morbid symptoms to appear.
When we had it, we didn't need to define it #2. I must say I'd never heard of Robert Colls. But he seems to have the root of the matter in him.

Dean Godson Think-tanker

One of the keys to constructing, consolidating and reviving national identity—Britishness—is a positive view of national history. We need a Royal Commission to look at how the Island Story can be imparted to new generations in a way that unites us. In so many schools it either isn’t taught at all, or if it is, it too often portrays our past in distinctly unflattering light.
Yup. As Robert Colls said "To say the least, slavery, imperialism, and Islamicism are not promising historical relationships on which to build a new national identity." We need to be moving towards a history curriculum, for example, in which children of Asian descent see Clive and Bobs Bahadur rather than Ghandi or Jinnah as "us". Such a volte-face would be impossible for our present rulers - they just couldn't do it. So we'll continue to actively foster resentment and division in our schools. Way to go.

Ed Husain Writer

I was born and raised in Britain, but never felt British. In fact, I actively rejected any notion of Britishness.
Tells it like it was - and still is.

Josef Joffe Editor-publisher, Die Zeit

“If you have to ask, you can’t afford it,” was JP Morgan’s fabled reply to a friend who asked the millionaire banker about the price of his yacht, thinking he might want to buy one himself. Gordon Brown’s question about citizenship and identity raises the same problem: if you have to ask, it’s not for you. Britons used to know what “Britishness” was; hence, they did not have to ask.
When we had it, we didn't need to define it #3.
Michael Lind Writer

The British must decide whether to continue as a coalition of four cultural nations, or to add a fifth or sixth or seventh cultural nation by policies which, by default or design, encourage the conversion of immigrant diaspora communities into permanently distinct nationalities on British soil. Immigration is compatible with the perpetuation of four permanent British cultural nations in Britain, as long as the immigrants gradually merge with the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish by assimilation (in which the immigrants simply lose their own cultures) or by “melting-pot” amalgamation (in which immigrants and native cultures fuse to form a hybrid culture).
Seems to be arguing for integration. Too bloody late, mate, IMHO. And anyway, what native culture ? The one they've spent the last 40 years wrecking ? As Josie Appleton put it "The exercise of trying to tell immigrants how to be British is becoming an embarrassing demonstration of the fact that the elite doesn't know itself."Given the relative strengths of some imported cultures, the integration's more likely to be the other way.
Munira Mirza Think-tanker

The problem with these endless consultations is that they ignore the real basis for citizenship—a sense of ownership over society and control over its direction. We can talk till kingdom come about tolerance, fairness and justice, but citizenship is in the doing of politics, not the talking around it.
"the doing of politics, not the talking around it" - that's called culture. What we haven't got. Or what we don't share, anyway. We have several different models of "the doing of politics".

Frederic Raphael Writer

Gordon Brown’s call for some kind of poll to choose a modernised set of values to renovate the national sense of identity (and honour) is either an exercise in condescension (cf Lenin humbly consulting the peasants before confiscating their land) or what the philosopher Gilbert Ryle called a “category mistake”: since when can “values” be selected from a brochure and the poll-toppers inserted as moral uplift into the body politic like prosthetic implants? Don’t values have to be implicit in acts and arts, not applied like make-up?
When we had it, we didn't need to define it #5.

Ben Rogers Writer

Gordon Brown is not alone in believing that, with the decline in religion, the development of liberal attitudes to “private” behaviour, the rise of consumerist values and lifestyles, and Britain’s growing ethnic and cultural diversity, we as a society don’t really believe in anything any more—that “nothing binds us,” that “anything goes.”
If Gordon Brown believes that, what's he been doing in the Labour Party since Clause Four went and "the nation" disappeared out of the window along with "nationalisation" ? He's a David Lindsay Labourite all of a sudden, is he ?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

BNP Bomber Update

No, the one who allegedly wants to blow up BNP members.

More detail.

He is accused of plotting to make bombs following a trip to Pakistan and to have had a copy of the Anarchists Cookbook on his computer.

During an anti-terror raid on his home about 500g of potassium nitrate was allegedly found under his bed in the room he shared with his younger brother. Potassium nitrate is a critical oxidising component of gunpowder.

While gunpowder can kill people - it's what David Copeland used - it's not exactly a weapon of mass destruction. Given that from next week you can buy 90-shot firework cakes for around seven quid from Lidl, it should put into context the possession of a pound of saltpetre. Semtex it ain't.

Previous posts here and here.

Quote of the Day

"There is always a certain meanness in the argument of conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its fact."

Ralph Waldo Emerson, quoted in this City Journal piece on the CIA.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

BBC Plumb New Depths of Tastelessness (But Hey, It's In A Good Cause)

May I with trepidation present the BBCs contribution to the battle against HIV. You'll notice the strong abstinence spin. Turn the sound down before playing. Not suitable for work, children, multi-cellular organisms, other sentient beings.

G.I. Jonny.

Already getting rave reviews.

Fear of Terrorism and Immigration May Affect Birthrate

It's always difficult to know how much weight to assign to a survey that some company or organisation commission. Commissioning a survey's a bit like getting a consultancy in to do a report and make some recommendations - with the right steer (and the right company - I'm sure YouGov are as squeaky-clean as can be) you can get the report and recommendations you want. You pay us - and we'll tell you what you want to hear.

With the survey the usual aim is to get media coverage. The BBC, for example, wouldn't usually touch a company press release - but if it's accompanied by a survey ("There Really Are More Crashes on Friday, Say Insurers") the deal is that the company get a namecheck and the media org gets some free news that a lazy hack can just paste into a story.

This one, by the Mental Health Foundation, got wide coverage including the BBC and the Sun.

According to a new public attitudes survey out today, 1 in 7 adults are reluctant to have children (15%) and 1 in 4 less inclined to plan for the future (27%) because of world troubles.

In a YouGov survey commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation, 70% of people say they are most worried about terrorism and 58% by immigration. In contrast, environmental issues are less of a concern – only a third are worried about climate change (38%) and a quarter by the threat of a natural disaster (23%).

Two teensy pointettes

a) the figure for people worried about immigration is remarkably high, given that every official medium tells us that there's nothing at all to worry our bigoted little heads about.

b) if fear of terror or worries about immigration lessen the natives desire to breed, then we've potentially got a feedback loop in operation. On immigration, the less the natives breed, the more they notice the ratio of natives to non-natives falling, which lessens desire and so on. On terror - if an incomer group has a high birth rate, or at least one which is NOT lowered by fear of terrorism, then terrorism could almost be said to be a rational demographic strategy, if it lowered native fertility.

That of course would be a simplistic, biologically determinist view. But there's more to people than that, thank God. We don't actually act like ants or bees. Not all the time, anyway.

And in any event, the actual survey stats and methodology don't seem to have been released, so my theoretical house rests on shaky foundations. Perhaps the people who are reluctant to have kids ARE the incomers. I don't think it's likely, but it's possible.

Comments Are Off

As from this post, comments are off, for reasons I articulated here.

Half the point of this blog (the other half being keeping my blood pressure within bounds and the TV screen intact) is trying to reach out to those many Guardianistas and educated liberals, people like I used to be only a few years back, who are starting to have doubts about what's happened and what will happen to the United Kingdom in general, and England in particular. They need to understand "how the malice of the wicked is reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous; how the counsels of prudence and restraint may become the prime agents of mortal danger; how the middle course adopted from desires for safety and a quiet life may be found to lead direct to the bull's-eye of disaster".

Many of them are just beginning their journey, cutting adrift from the thoughts and habits of comfortable liberalism. Fronting them with language which sits better on stormfront is a disservice to what I'm trying to do.

I don't kid myself that a blog with 700-odd regular readers is going to change the world. I'm just doing what I can, as best I can. If I find that the comments are detracting from that, out they go.

I'm most grateful to those of you who have commented, posted useful links and alerted me to stories I might otherwise have missed. Please feel free to communicate via labantall-at-hotmail-dot-com.

Equality Is At The Heart of Labour

So sayeth Harriet Harman, Mike Ion, and every Labour council and trades union in the land.

Access to Services

Before the recess the Speaker approved the Administration Committee’s recommendation that Members should have priority access to services throughout the Commons part of the Parliamentary Estate.

With effect from today, staff and other users should be prepared to give way to Members when queuing for retail and catering services, the post office, travel office or when using other facilities such as lifts, photocopiers, telephone cubicles, etc.

When using parliamentary facilities, please bear in mind whether there is, or is likely to be, a heavy demand from Members and, if so, try to amend your own plans or schedule.

Peter Grant Peterkin
Serjeant at Arms

Sue Harrison
Director of Catering Services

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which".

I wonder what, if anything, Cameron's New Tories have to say about this ?

Hat-tip - Guido.

A Couple of Ink Caps From The Curate's Paddock

And with one bound, FaceRight awoke. I've always appreciated his news and views on what's happening in California, and the impact of the "new" Latino immigration on existing minority communities.

I say "new" because all the oldest stuff in CA is Spanish. The San Luis Obispo mission is 1772, when Bostonians were still subjects of King George.

Pub Philosopher contrasts the low levels of individual violence in India with the much higher levels of communal violence. Interesting as ever.

South Africa seems to be getting a bit Zimbabwe-ish at the edges. Is this an unfortunate event or part of a wider trend ?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Over The Top ?

I know Robbie Savage isn't everyone's cup of tea - maybe not even mine. Some of his tackling brings a whole new meaning to the word 'robust'. While he terrorises opponents, officials and even his managers, I'm not sure he's actually a terrorist.

An airline pilot who let Premiership footballer Robbie Savage onto the flight deck has been sacked for breaking anti-terrorism rules. Former Gulf War RAF pilot Pablo Mason was dismissed by Mytravel after letting the midfielder near the controls in an effort to ease his fear of flying.

You'd never think Mr Savage was afeared of flying when you look at his tackling. It's his opponents who have reason to fear an involuntary trip into the air.

"Thank You For Flying Air Savage"

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Jerry Brotton - the Myth That Keeps On Giving

Tristram Hunt, NuLabour historian (but at least he is one - of the Victorian era) points out in the Observer that "claiming that a Muslim navy helped England to defeat the Spanish Armada is not the way to promote harmonious multiculturalism", before

a) saying something that doesn't exactly accord with the facts, to put it kindly :

Brotton's point was that while the correspondence had long been known about, previous historians had rarely highlighted this level of Muslim-Christian exchange.

Cobblers. Brotton's point was "It's the Turks Wot Won It".

b) regurgitating the myth

"This Anglo-Ottoman alliance helped to divert the Spanish fleet, weaken the Armada and save England from Catholic reconquest."

See the previous 500 posts. Once a liberal myth starts, what in Gods name do we have to do to kill it - bury it at a crossroads with a stake through its heart ? Like George Bush's plastic Thanksgiving turkey, the myth has a life of its own - because it's what (some) people want to hear.