Saturday, January 09, 2010

"reacting to the moral uncertainties of the Western world"

More canaries in the coal mine. I must confess I didn't know that Boris Johnson's first wife ("the Zuleika Dobson of his year" according to Toby Young - another portrait of the marriage here) is now a convert to Islam.

Let Yazza (for it is she) reveal all :

She was the first wife of Boris Johnson — clearly not a woman to shirk challenges. But then I find out that she has married a much younger Lahori man and imagines her future as an ageing wife who will happily accept her lot within an orthodox Islamic set-up and welcome a younger wife to produce children. It is her choice and one wishes her well.

Several of my close Pakistani and Arab friends are happily married to European wives, with both sides compromising on lifestyles and values.

That is not what Mostyn-Owen has opted for. First she has married a much younger, fit man and maybe feels excessively grateful. Then she is going for complete surrender, an uncritical acceptance of the most regressive practices of some of my co-religionists. The reactions of her family are subtly xenophobic and must hurt. But her actions are as inexplicable to Muslims like myself too. My mother's generation fought for equality and monogamous marriages, a struggle that carries on. To see the daughters of Britannia carelessly surrendering these rights is almost unbearable.

It is happening elsewhere in Europe too. Since 9/11, vast numbers of educated, privileged middle-class white women have converted to Islam, often the most restricted forms with tediously long rulebooks. Surveys suggest they are the fastest growing group of converts in the West. Here they include women at investment banks, TV stations, universities and in the NHS.

Four years ago, when the trend first became clear, Dr Haifa Jawad, of Birmingham University, said: “The women were reacting to the moral uncertainties of the Western world. Many convert out of conviction and not because they are in love.”

Mostyn-Owen says her husband is “untainted by the jaded confusion of western urban life”. Such images of contamination and purity are often used to explain the decisions. Three such converts told me last year their nun-like apparel makes them feel less objectified and they feel “cleansed”.

I get a distinct "wishy-washy standards of contemporary Christianity" vibe here, although to be fair in Mrs BoJo's case it's probably "the wishy-washy standards of contemporary liberalism". The Mail story linked above quotes her mother thus : "Boris is a man who needed someone very obedient and silent, who would be willing to stay in the background and create a soothing home life, while giving him space to build a glittering career. My daughter wasn't that kind of person." Slightly strange that she's opted for that yet again, or am I stereotyping ?

Talking of Charles le Gai Eaton, there's an interesting snippet of biography here, pinched from his 'Islam and the Destiny of Man'.

UPDATE - the lady herself, quoted in Readers Digest :

"I've never regularly attended church, yet I have been to this mosque, my mosque, more times than I can remember. It's a place where I sometimes feel spiritually transported. As I busy myself on the carpet sorting colours and papers after what is always an exhausting class, I am soothed by the azan of evening prayers, the haunting and sometimes pained invocations to the Almighty. I feel my humility, and then realize this is my act of worship, my submission, my Islam. Forget the fact that only men take part in communal prayers, I am a token Christian discreetly trafficking through the men's space with my bags of materials, pretending I'm not really there. I am there, I am accepted, and this is all that matters."

UPDATE 2 - from the comments to Yazza's piece :

In places like Morocco - there is a whole sub industry in marrying mainly older western women - to gain papers and passport to Europe, America - even Japan.

I don't mean to offend - but Muslim men are usually married to first cousins or other family members - before a Muslim girl marries - she must undergo a virginity test at the doctors -

I have spent time in the Muslim world - hard to call everyone who sees this thing for what it is - a racist. But there I was told that women who cannot produce a virginity certificate - are laughed at, called whores, and can remain unwed for the rest of their lives. Many turn to prostitution.

If one of these same man marries a western woman - who is older and not a virgin - then he only sees her as a way to escape his country's conditions.

How the game works - is these guys are prepared to enter into long term relationships with you - in one case - a young girl having a relationship with a young Muslim man - was meant to return there and bring the foreign marriage papers - when she turned up without them - the relationship was called off - she probably had some sense talked into her by her parents - but she was there after referred to as the 'stupid' girl who did not bring the papers. And I was approached to take money to marry this guy and bring him back to Europe.

Other cases EU ladies in relationships with these men have sent them money - the guy then took the money, brought a house and married a cousin as his family wished.

- Rebecca, uk

Friday, January 08, 2010

Just One Cornetto (Friday Night Is Elvis Night)

75 years ago yestreen the man was born - Mark Steyn reveals all about 'It's Now Or Never' aka 'O Sole Mio' aka 'Just One Cornetto':

It was Elvis' biggest hit, selling some 25 million copies worldwide, Number One for five weeks in the US and for eight weeks in Britain. For the rest of his life it was Presley's personal favorite out of all his records. And it was "It's Now Or Never" that spurred Barry White's Pauline prison conversion from a life of crime to a life of heavy-breathing luuuuuurv ballads. Yet it took a long and tortuous path before it fell into the hands of Aaron Schroeder and the King. "It's Now Or Never" has its origins in ...go on, guess.


Close. The Ukraine.

Odessa, to be precise.

In tribute I'd like to introduce you to this remarkable take on 'Just One Cornetto', sung by what sounds like Lisa Gerrard's little sister. Love the guitar, too - and I especially love the unexpected, falling last line. Sing more, sister !

It's a long way from Tupelo to Bulgaria. But while we're on the subject of women with exceptional voices ...

And finally ... bear with me on this one. I've always been fond of stuff with sequencers - 'Baba O'Reilly' - type music. The song, such as it is, is merely the bread either side of the extended jam sandwich in the centre. Kicks in after about 45 seconds. The studio version is better.

But this is almost worth watching for the clothes and the 'dancing' alone IMHO - a real 1972 cultural artefact. Curved Air.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Well Strike A Light

Last year I noted the sad case of Brum Labour Party's Elaina Cohen, who applied to be the party's candidate for the Lozells council seat and was told by another councillor "They will not vote for someone who is white and Jewish. My Muslim members don't want you because you are Jewish".

As it turns out, not all Muslim members feel the same way about her :

Khalid Mahmood, who is the MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, claimed a total of £1,350 for nine nights stay over a four-week period in 2004, when he stayed at The Bentley hotel in Kensington. He also claimed £1,225 for five nights stay in 2008.

Mahmood used the hotel after separating from partner Nasim Akhtar, with whom he lived in Wembley, though this address was not given on his 2004 claims form. He checked into the hotel with then girlfriend Elaina Cohen under the fake names Mr Khaled and Eleine Mahmood.
I'd have thought, given the first story, that Mr Mahmood (about whom I know little except that
he made a pretty decent stab at keeping 'community tensions' down at the time of the Lozells riots) might find he's peeved some of his constituents by his dalliance - unless of course he could persuade Ms Cohen to 'do an Osborne' and convert to Islam.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

More Canaries

George Osborne's brother Mohammed (ne Adam), shown below reprising Kenneth Williams' unforgettable role as the ruler of Khalabar :

'Rahala explained to her three brothers and two sisters that she was deeply in love and wanted to marry Adam. I don't think they were too keen. Her older sister, who had an arranged marriage, was especially resistant.

'Over time, however, and after meeting him on a few occasions, they came around to the idea. And when Adam announced that he was going to convert to Islam, it enabled everyone to accept the relationship.'

And perhaps at the other end of whatever spectrum there might be, Ibrahim (ne Maurice) Anderson, composer of 'A Means for Dawah' and currently facing trial on charges of using threatening, abusive, insulting words and behaviour at a homecoming parade in Luton for the Anglian Regiment.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Alas, Poor Tunny

When I was a wee lad, we used to eat tinned 'tunny fish', caught in the North Sea. Tasted great.

Then they were fished out, and we ate tinned 'tuna' instead, caught not in the North sea but more exotic waters. Came in varieties like 'skipjack', 'yellowfin' and 'bonito'. Not as nice as tunny, we thought, but we got accustomed to the new stuff, and now I can't remember what tunny tastes like - must be 45 years since I ate any.

If this site is right, we were actually eating Northern bluefin tuna - and it's now a critically endangered species.

This is a public information post.

Grit-Banditry ...

.. the shame of our cities.

Monday, January 04, 2010

"We know all about equality and independence — we've been there"

The practicalities are all, it seems - Marie Claire (!) on Russia's classes for millionaire-hunters :

To the Western feminist mind, it might seem a bit retrograde, yet Varra insists that Russian women are the ultimate post-feminists. "We know all about equality and independence — we've been there," she tells me. During the Soviet era, which ended in 1991, millions of men died in wars and labor camps. Women often ran their households alone, while also working in factories. The problem is that Russian men, says Varra, remain deeply patriarchal and still expect women to be subservient. "Rather than try to change men, which will take another 200 years," she says, "we might as well get whatever we can out of them now."

NYT - "20% of UK Students Are Muslim"

Is this true ? Seems like a high number to me, although I'd expect 10%ish - after all, a Government report in 2006 said that "in 10 years time, 15% of the workforce will be Muslim".

Where did the New York Times get these figures from ? Anyone know ?

Investigators are now, in fact, turning a sharper and retrospective eye to the passage in Mr. Abdulmutallab’s life that began immediately after his summer in Sana, Yemen, in 2005, when he enrolled as a $25,000-a-year mechanical engineering student at University College London. In recent days, officials in Washington and London have said they are focusing on the possibility that his London years, including his possible contacts with radical Muslim groups in Britain, were decisive in turning him toward Islamic extremism.

That view, if confirmed, would offer a stark reaffirmation that Britain, the United States’ closest ally, continues to pose a major threat to American security. Critics in Britain and the United States say the British security forces, despite major increases in budgets and manpower in recent years, have not yet succeeded in adequately monitoring, much less restraining, the Islamic militancy that thrives in the vast network of mosques that serve the nation’s 1.5 million Muslims — and on university campuses across the country where nearly 100,000 of the 500,000 students are Muslims, including many, like Mr. Abdulmutallab, from overseas.

UPDATE - Muhammad Abdul ('Two million Muslim terrorists') Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain, quoted at Socialist Unity : "there are approximately 100,000 Muslim students at universities across the UK, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding and play a full and active role in student life."

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Money From (potential) Misery

As the Walkman generation was succeeded by the mp3 and Ipod generations, and an increasing number of us walked around with plugs in our lugs, I became convinced that we were likely to see and increasing number of not-terribly-elderly with hearing difficulties. Young people just don't like turning it down.

At that point it also became apparent that hearing-aid manufacturers were likely to benefit. But who makes hearing aids ?

This blog gives some investment suggestions. I know nowt about the blog or the companies they suggest (except Siemens), so caveat emptor.

(inspired by this Clive Davis post)

Quote Of The Day

David Duff on erogenous zones, real or imagined :

I was always a very attentive and tender lover who never forgot to ask afterwards, "How was it for you, darling?" even if I never quite managed to stay awake long enough to catch the reply.

The Mumbles Train

I blogged the Mumbles train a couple of years back :

Any fule kno that the world's first passenger railway, the Mumbles train, would have been 200 years old this year. It was scrapped in 1960 by the local council, all of whose members are now being toasted here. Ever since I can remember, Swansea councils have been corrupt, incompetent or both - and according to this blog the tradition lives on.

Had it survived it would have been a World Heritage site and the biggest tourist attraction in Wales.

I'm just old enough to have ridden the beastie. The terminus was at the back end of the long-gone Victoria Station, in what used to be a fascinating hinterland between station and docks. Railway lines ran in the roads between the warehouses and docksides - the Swansea of Kingsley Amis' novel 'That Uncertain Feeling'. Alas all gone, replaced by dual carriageway, retail sheds and a sanitised marina.

The journey - along the sea front past the prison, the Vetch, the Slip (with its station, floral gardens, bridge and beach funfair), Patti Pavilion and St Helens, to Blackpill (where the accompanying main railway line turned off towards Gowerton), Oystermouth and the Pier - is still pleasant now, as a walk or bike ride on the path where the line ran. But it doesn't compare with a pasteboard ticket, a box of Paynes Poppets from the machine at the terminus, and a gloriously rackety journey. In winter the ride could be scary. The train always rocked a bit, but in a gale it would move disconcertingly. Upstairs, where the motion was accentuated, you'd wonder if it was about to fall over into the sea. Downstairs, with a stormy high tide the spray of breaking waves would slap against the windows - if you left them open you could get wet. We loved it.

I'm pleased to see that someone has put this excellent video tribute, showing then-and-now video of the line, onto Youtube. The first part's soundtrack is Spencer Davis' (of this lot fame) lament 'The Mumbles Train', from his latest 'So Far' release. A Swansea boy (didn't his mum work in the Lewis Lewis department store ?), Spencer is still playing .

At 4:58 you can see children retrieving their flattened pennies from the line after the train has passed.

I said that in a storm at high tide you could get wet unless you shut the downstairs windows. This recent video, taken on a stormy day near the end of what was the line, shows that you'd sometimes need to shut the upstairs ones too. The line ran right alongside the water. You can see why a ride on a stormy night was an adventure.

I trust Sarah and Liz will enjoy the video, if they've not seen it before. More stills of the Blitz and (near the end) the train here.