Saturday, February 28, 2009

The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 4

We finally escape the first letter of the alphabet, as Malcolm's pre-prepared recital continues ...

Baby Power

The time-honoured way of ensuring a man's warm walk home from the bar on a cold night.

James Power was a Dublin publican who set up his own distillery at John's Lane in 1791. When his son, John, joined the business it eventually took his name and became the hallowed "John Power and Son". Only after 1866 did the firm bottle its own whiskey, with a distinctive label: hence "Power's Gold Label". The Baby Power was a marketing innovation (which required a change in legislation): Powers reckoned on getting into the female market by selling their husbands miniature bottles to take home. In these liberated latter days, a Baby Power still fits the average handbag.

Not all the Baby Powers made the whole long journey: so the wise husband always bought two before leaving the bar.

Baby Power should not be confused with...

Black Bush

Some time back the Guardian did a major interview with Seamus Heaney as he travelled north on the train. The only way the interviewer noted the passage of tbhe border was when Heaney switched form Jameson to Bushills.

About the time this posting hits cyberspace, Malcolm will be as close to Bushmills as possible. There is what is claimed to be the world's oldest whiskey distillery. Every Bushmills label proudly announces "Founded 1608"; and Malcolm reckons he saw that long before Diageo took over. According to the authorised version, that date was when Sir Thomas Phillips received his licence from King James VI and I. If so, Phillips was Deputy for the Plantation of Ulster; and he was carrying on a tradition that would go back long before 1608. The recent anniversary release amplified the claim:
On 20th April 1608, a licence was granted to Sir Thomas Phillips to "make, draw and distil" uisce beatha within the territory called the Rowte in County Antrim.
That's an editing of the original licence:
for the next seaven yeres, within the countie of Colrane, otherwise called the Rowte, in Co. Antrim, by himselfe or his servauntes, to make, drawe, and distil such and soe great quantities of aquavite, usquabagh and aqua composita, as he or his assignes shall thinke fitt; and the same to sell, vent, and dispose of to any persons, yeeldinge yerelie the somme 13s 4d.
Others dismiss the claim, and suggest that the distillery cannot be traced back further than 1784, which was the date on the labels when, in 1891, the firm started bottling and selling Old Glynn Bush.

Whatever, Malcolm reckons that the Bushmills range is one of his greatest temptations. While he would not look askance at the main product, he looks forwaard to opening a bottle of Green Bush (from the distinctive label), the single malt product, and for the seductive aroma to waft through the house. Apparently available mainly in Northern Ireland, Bushmills produce a basic product, which is marketed under the Coleraine name: that's not the greatest, but not bad, either.

However, back to Black Bush. Back in 1999 Irish Distillers ordered its associate British company to desist from a campaign:
A spokesman for Irish distillers said the promotion drew an unacceptable connection between the whiskey's brand name and pubic hair.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 27, 2009

The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 3

Day three of Malcolm's fill-space meanderings, and still trapped in the A's.

Atmospheric Road

This is a relic of a noble experiment. Brunel had suggested the use of a stationary engine, to create a partial vacuum in a cylinder. In the cylinder a piston, attached to a vehicle, would be propelled along by atmospheric pressure. The weakness of the system was the leather gaskets which were supposed to seal the slot along the top of the cylinder: they needed constant greasing, and were palatable to every passing rat.

However, one James Pim of Dublin ran a puff campaign; and when an extension to the Kingstown line was mooted, the atmospheric system was adopted. For a decade, between 1844 and 1854, trains between Kingstown pier and Dalkey, some 1¾miles, ran under this arrangement. The line is still there, as part of the DART. All that remains of the experiment is the street name.

If there is a villain of the piece (apart from the marauding rodents) it has to be whoever concocted that ludicrous hibernicising on the road sign.

Atty Hayes's Goat

This is the Corkonian simile for antiquity, "as old as Atty Hayes's goat".

Attiwell Hayes was a miller, brewer and glass-maker (obviously a vertically-integrated business plan) in the City of Cork, in the eighteenth century. His house still exists on Cork's North Mall. He died in 1799; and is buried in the crypt of Christchurch Cathedral. His reputation as an eccentric was established by arriving at a masquerade in a cart pulled by the goat. That eccentricity may also be evident in naming his daughter "Mary Smary Hayes". The goat lived to an extraordinary old age. That's it for Atty Hayes. So let Malcolm move on.

His son was Sir Henry Browne Hayes, a prominent citizen, whose knighthood in 1790 rewarded his public services, including being Sheriff of Cork. Around 1786 he built himself a fine villa, Vernon Mount, overlooking Cork and the River Lee. The house was named in honour of George Washington, which tells us that Hayes was a nationalist, at least to the extent of admiring the way the Americans had rid themselves of the hated Navigation Acts.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a widower with several children must be in need of a wife. On 21st July 1797 Hayes kidnapped Mary Pike, a wealthy Quaker heiress, from Woodhill, the home of the Penrose family in Tivoli, and forced her into marriage. The Penroses and others rescued her; and Hayes went into hiding. When he surrendered in 1800 there followed a sensational trial, and in 1801 Hayes was sentenced to transportation.

He became a celebrity in New South Wales as the convict-knight, and is credited with establishing the first Masonic Lodge in the colony. Again he built himself a fine residence, Vaucluse House near South Head (right). He discovered this was in an area infested with snakes. Hayes's solution was importing soil from Ireland, and building a defensive bank: it apparently worked. He was implicated in various acts of dissidence: for taking sides against Governor King and in sympathy with deposed Governor Bligh (yes, that Bligh) he was sent to the coal mines at Newcastle. Bligh issued a pardon, which was endorsed by Governor Macquarie in 1812. Hayes returned to Cork, dying at home at Vernon Mount in 1832.

In passing, Malcolm notes that the Penroses also sheltered Sarah Curran (who was the daughter of John Philpott Curran, the prosecutor at Hayes's trial). Sarah Cullen came to Woodhill after the execution of her lover, Robert Emmet in 1803; and in 1805 from Woodhill she was married to Captain Henry Sturgeon.

Small place, Ireland. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 2

Continuing with Malcolm's stop-gap postings, we are still stuck in the A's:

Annie Moore's

An excellent place of decent refreshment, located in Manhattan's E 43rd Street, nicely adjacent to Grand Central Station.

It bears a name borrowed from the girl who, on 20th December, 1881, left Queenstown on the S.S.Nevada. On New Year's Day, 1882 -- supposedly her fifteenth birthday --, she was the first immigrant to be processed through the new Ellis Island centre. To mark this inauguration of a place of hope and misery she was presented with a $10 gold piece.

She brought with her two brothers, and they joined her parents who had emigrated four years previously. It has now been established that she is buried in the Calvary cemetery, in Flushing, Queens. This was originally the burial place of the poor from the St Patrick's diocese. She shares the space with a slew of gangsters from Little Italy, but also luminaries such as Governor Alfred E. Smith, the 1928 Democratic Presidential candidate (the Irish connection is Smith's mother, Catherine Mulvihill, and his wife, Catherine Dunn), and Mayor Robert Wagner.

On the water's edge at Cobh there is a statue of the Moores. Annie is depicted as the only one looking back. It is matched by another, solo statue inside the main hall at Ellis Island. Malcolm has to admit, having
stood by both, he found the connexion elegiac and emotive.

Anna Livia

The personification of
Abhainn na Life, the River Liffey, whose characteristic brown colour comes from the peat-water of the Wicklow mountains (and not, as the credulous tourist would still be told, from St James's Gate brewery). Joyce celebrated Anna Livia Plurabella, and in return the powers that be renamed Chapelizod bridge in her honour; but for Malcolm, for now, it's Eavan Boland every time:
Tell me,
Anna Liffey,
Spirit of water,
Spirit of place,
How is it on this
Rainy Autumn night
As the Irish sea takes
The names you made, the names
You bestowed, and gives you back
Only wordlessness?
To celebrate Dublin's millennium year (1988) the magnate "Doctor" Michael Smurfit presented the City with a statue of Anna Livia, supine in a fountain. This allowed Dubliners to continue the long-standing tradition of awarding each new public artwork an alliterative address: she was the "Floozie in the Jacuzzi" when not the "Hoor in the Sewer". The authorities shifted Anna to make space for the Spike: she's supposed to be relocated at Croppy's Acre, before the old Collins Barracks. Meanwhile, her nickname lives on for the thing in Victoria Square, Birmingham.

Arthur Itis

The bane of many an ageing Dubliner, who, in part thanks to a damp climate, complains loudly of suffering appallingly from Arthur Itis.

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 1

The following short series (which may fill the shining hour on later occasions) is designed as a place-marker while Malcolm is in the County Armagh, out of touch with the necessities of cyberlife.

Here he celebrates those Irishmen and women, and their milieux, that the conventional histories may neglect or ignore.

To begin at the beginning, then, with A is for:

Aer Lingus

a.k.a. "Air Linctus".

Properly, of course, it should be Aer Loingeas, which for the masses Anglicises as "air fleet". It is, in other words, a direct rip from Aeroflot (though with a better safety record). The first flight was from Baldonnel to Bristol, with EI-ABI, a six-seater De Havilland Dragon, on 27th May 1936.

The name of the company was proposed by the Cork County Council Surveyor, Richard O'Connor. As for the cod-Irish, that seems to be an "improvement" by Seán Ó hUadhaigh, whose name on the original company letterhead is appended by "formerly John K. Woods".

There are many myths of the Saxons persecuting anything Irish. One such involves the loss of EI-AOM St Phelim, off the County Wexford, on 24th March 1968. This was the Tuskar Rock Air Disaster which killed all 61 on board. Almost immediately the conspiracy theorists were suggesting a link to missile testing at the Aberforth base on Cardigan Bay. Twenty years on, a different story emerged: the Aer Lingus maintencance records had gone missing; the port-side tail-plane had detached, through corrosion and metal fatigue. With each iteration of enquiry and rebuttal, the conspiracists produce a new series of rhetorical questions, to underpin their paranoia.

The notion of Aer Lingus as the Irish national carrier is also somewhat confused, if only because of a chequered record of ownership. At one time, 40% of the company was owned by BOAC and BEA in exchange for air traffic rights. Today, Ryanair is the largest single share-holder.

It is also worth acknowledging here yet another of de Valera's reactionary interventions. When the Costello coalition collapsed over the Mother and Child scheme, Aerlinte Éireann was about to launch a transatlantic service, and had bought three Lockheed Constellations. Dev was sceptical about the project: the aircraft were sold on to BOAC. Aer Lingus did not start flying to the USA for another decade. Now, of course, the Irish connection is heavily marketed to the diaspora:

Alice Daly

In James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Dedalus considers a "plump turkey":
he remembered the man's voice when he had said "Take that one, sir. That's the real Ally Daly."
Alice Daly was an early nineteenth-century dairy-woman, whose butter was regarded as Dublin's best. Reviewing Richard Wall's An Irish Literary Dictionary and Glossary, Cóilín Owens commented:
It is nice to know that "the real Ally Daly" (the best quality) derives from Alice Daly's butter--one of the few surviving pre-famine brand-names.
That is a curious use of the term "Brand-name".

[For another foodie reference, consider the "Hun Bun Factory"] Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Alderney ship-wreck, revisited

Malcolm ridiculed, unwisely and not well, the archaeology of the Alderney ship-wreck, over on Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service.

He has now thought again, and would wish to amend his views.

The story so far

In 1591 a 3,000-man force, led by Sir John Norreys, was sent to Brittany. The aim was to prevent a Spanish advance base being established at Brest, from which a second Armada might be launched.

On the 29th November 1592, Sir John wrote a report to Lord Burghley, the Queen's chief minister, mentioning a shypp that was cast away about Alderney. In 1977 an Alderney fisherman discovered the wreck. Divers brought up artefacts which dated the vessel to the turn of the sixteenth century. One of the cannon was recovered, and remains in the local museum.

Mensun Bound, a Fellow of St Peter's College, Oxford, heads a team studying the wreck. The BBC2 Timewatch programme began its 2009 season with a dramatised (at times, somewhat theatrical) account of Bound's attempt to recover two more cannon, to show that Elizabethan technology had advanced to producing matched iron cannon. The programme then demonstrated the spectacular effectiveness of reproductions of a musket and a cannon of types recovered from the wreck.

The context

What the programme could not explore, and what exercises Malcolm, is the technological and logistical context.

According to one account, since 1569 brass was the previous metal of choice for cannons. It was easier to produce than iron; and tended to allow a margin of safety -- brass would deform where iron would explode. It had severe disadvantages, though. Brass cannon would overheat and deform. The main source of supply was in remote central Europe. By 1588, the Navy had 632 brass, and some 50 iron cannon: it has been assumed that these iron weapons were what was left of the earlier iron battery guns.

The English Navy underwent considerable reorganisation in the period before the Armada. This is usually credited to Sir John Hawkyns, as Treasurer of the Navy from 1577. Sir William Winter is proposed as deriving the galeass of the Henrician period into the new design of a gallion, lower in profile, but carrying heavy armament. Much of the detailed work would be shipwrights like Matthew Baker and John Wells, whose working notes have survived. By 1588, two-thirds of Elizabeth's Navy conformed to this new design.

Changes were also made around this time in the command of ships. Lieutenants were appointed, as ancilliaries to the captain, below whom came the ship's Master, the quartermasters and the departmental heads. There persdisted a chronic shortage of trained and experienced gunners.

What was evolving here, and quickly, was a gun-platform of considerable power. It was a model that would hold for the next 200-odd years, until breach-loading rifled guns changed the shape of ships and sea-warfare..

And yet ...

The programme implied that, before Mensun Bound's discoveries, serial manufacture of matching iron cannon, thus standardising the ammunition, did not develop until the mid-1600s.

So far Bound has lifted three guns from the Alderney wreck: all are similar in design. All are iron. That is not, though, conclusive proof. The cannon appear to bear a mark "FW", which is surmised to be for Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's spy-master. An intuitive leap might be that the Alderney wreck is that of a prototype vessel, a pinnace, heavily armed for its size. If so, as the programme shows, the two-ton guns would need careful stowage and securing in rough weather.

That said, there do seem to be inconsistencies in the programme's treatment.

We know that iron cannon were being made in the Sussex Weald, where there was both iron ore and charcoal for smelting. Ralph Huggett and his son John are supposed to have cast a cannon at Buxted, East Sussex, in 1543. There was Harrisons' foundry at Brede, working for the Navy from 1578, which should cause us to reconsider the assumption that those 50-odd iron cannon in naval service in 1588 were antiques. There was the Darwell furnace at Brightling in the artillery business, too: before long they were casting 32-pounders and even 48-pounders.

Since the casting was, seemingly, done in sand, it wouldn't have taken a craftsman five minutes to reckon that working from a template was a neat idea: result, similar matched cannon.


Malcolm feels frustrated by his ignorance here. If there is reason in Mensun Bound's notions, it involves clearing up a great many misconceptions in the application of English technology at this period. That, in turn, means re-appraising the whole epoch of English exploration and expansion.

There is clearly a route of enquiry ahead. Only time (aided by a few days at the British Library) will start to scratch the itch.

An afterthought

In Henry V's speech before Harfleur, he is given the lines:
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Specifically, notice, a brass cannon, closely linked to a sea reference. Obviously Shakespeare needed a monosyllable, yet there does not seem any obvious assonance to require "brass" (though, there is an alliterative p...p...b...b, of course). That's from 1599, incidentally. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Malcolm gets lippy

This gorgeous thing has been illustrating reviews over the last few weeks:

Wall Street Journal featured it, back on 5th January. It is here again in the 2nd March issue of Time magazine.

It could have made in the ateliers of the early Twentieth Century, and be appearing in a Cubist exhibition. The shape is uncannily like a flamingo, especially John Tenniel's drawings for Alice in Wonderland.

In fact, it emerged from an archaeological excavation in Anatolia.

It is, incredibly, over three and a half millennia old.

For a few more days it can been seen at the New York Met's current show: Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium, BC.

Apart from admiring it, Malcolm mentions it here because he takes lip-smacking alliterative delight in enunciating its title:
Spouted Hittite vessel.
Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 20, 2009

Green, green, it's green they say
On the far side of the hill.
Green, green, and I'm going away
To where the grass is greener still.

Barry McElduff has a problem (one for which Malcolm has some sympathy), and came up with a personal and partial solution, which he now regrets.

The problem remains.

Explain, Malcolm!

McElduff is an MLA for West Tyrone and Councillor in Omagh District. He is a nationalist and member of Sinn Féin (though, to the cognoscenti, the name and the location render this explanation otiose). The local boyos took it on themselves to paint post boxes green. McElduff expressed his approval of the redecoration. Outcry and general hoo-ha ensued. His political masters, who can be very persuasive, obliged McElduff to make a public and humiliating recantation.

That's the basic story: so a Malcolmian aside.

Quite why post-boxes should be seen as the ultimate symbol of national pride and tradition defeats our resident sage, philosopher and friend. Across the nation, long-redundant postboxes are preserved and ritually repainted to preserve the street-scene: one such is in Hampstead, NW3.

Early E2R boxes were blown up by the Scottish liberationists in the 1950s. This was on the specious grounds that Scotland had experienced just the one Elizabeth: thus reminding the rest of us that many SNP types are tartan Tories, with an essentially conservative, even feudal, mind-set.

Going postal

Yet, even in the UK it is possible to find green post-boxes. As the Letter Box Study Group (better believe it!) says:
Sometimes, older boxes or those which have previously been in poor condition have details such as the royal cipher picked out in gold, making for a splendid display. Disused or privately owned boxes can be found in a variety of colours, including black, white, green, blue and brown. Boxes in the walls of local Post Offices are often made of local materials to local requirements and may be bronze, brown or silver.
Even ordinary working letter boxes can be found in numerous different colours. Guernsey for example, paints all boxes blue. Some historical boxes on the British mainland can be found in green.
At Moorlynch, in Somerset, the local post-mistress insisted on repainting the box in her wall Harrodian green every time the Post Office painted it red: she wanted it to harmonise with the rest of her shop paintwork. Somewhere in the moorland wilds of Scotland Malcolm recalls an isolated green post-box, because a red one would be too glaringly out-of-place in a protected landscape.

As the LBSG implies above, the original colour for British post-boxes was green: red was only adopted from the mid-1870s. Nor is the red of the British post-box some brash-and-brassy sentiment derived from Georgian soldiery or the Union Flag. It is there, presumably, for the same reason that robins appear on Christmas cards, the early post-man's uniform red coat: hence they were nicknamed "robins" and "redbreasts". It is another piece of British tradition and mythology to be blamed on Charles Dickens & Co:
His portrait is an every-day picture of life, and yet not easy to paint. He is the very incarnation of alacrity, the embodied spirit of regularity and precision. Day by day, hour by hour, he is to be seen traversing with rapid step the limits of his own narrow district. The heavens may smile, or frown. Revolutions may shake the land ; or peace and prosperity gladden its children. Disease may wave its pestilent torch; or sudden calamity sweep away its victims. But the postman is still at his post. A diurnal dispenser of news. A kind of Hope in the Queen's livery, visiting every one in turn, and welcomed by all. A messenger of life and of death; of gratified ambition, or disappointed desire; of gracious acceptance, or harsh refusal. He is still welcome, for his presence, and that which he brings at least, puts an end to the most cruel of human sufferings- uncertainty.
It must come as an affront to any and every loyal Ulsterman to turn left out of Belleek, along the A47 Lough Shore Road towards Enniskillen. For just a few yards, across the bridge at Graffy, the road (suddenly re-designated the R47) is in the Republic. There, on the corner, is (or used to be) a green post-box, complete with royal insignia. To make the point even more blatantly, in the bad old days one might see an Arm na h-Éireann vehicle significantly adjacent. Bless!

The McElduff dilemma

The original Sinn Féin, not these latter-day wannabe saints and sinners, made nationalism work. Across the country, Republican courts operated, and people preferred them, and abided by their prompt and fair justice. In effect, long before the 1922 Treaty took effect, the first two Dála had evolved and implemented a parallel working State.

As Newton Emmerson, in the Irish News argues, that is one route for militant nationalist passive resistance:
Mr McElduff is much mocked for this focus on the everyday details of life in the United Kingdom but it is hard to fault his argument. Acquiescence to those everyday details is what enables any state, fictional or otherwise, to function. Imagine the chaos if 26 per cent of Northern Ireland’s adult population, equating to Sinn Fein’s vote at the last election, decided peaceably but firmly to do something as simple as not renewing their car tax. Quite apart from the lost revenue, the entire bureaucratic basis for the control and monitoring of vehicle ownership would collapse, taking the magistrates courts down with it.
Etc. Etc. (And the whole of Emmerson's piece is worth the visit.)

To Malcolm that's fair enough.

Except ...

The good people of the Republic, FF, FG, SF, Labour and Green, have been less than chuffed by Brian Lehihan's call to pay 21½% and Euro prices as an act of "patriotism". They have chosen to go north, pay 15% VAT and sterling prices. Equally, the tradesfolk of the North have not looked too shyly at the colour of the money crossing the border.

That's real life. That's everyday economics. It's also called giving people the choice. As with posting a letter: in the green box, it's €0.55 (say 49p). Take a dander across Graffy bridge, and save a third of the cost, even if the monarch's head offend, and the post-box is the wrong colour. Then it's a matter of competition: does the Post Office or An Post get you there quicker and safer?

It's the European Union in practice, for goodness' sake.

And, Malcolm suspects, the Irish lack-of-greenness is not so green, jejune and naive when we observe how "patriotic" Dell and its multi-national ilk have been. After all, Lenihan's budget argument was that all the cuts on health, welfare and pensions, all the imposts on consumers, employees and ordinary folk were justified to protect, preserve and promote the benign taxes on corporations.

But Dell saw things were greener on the other side of the Oder-Neiße-Grenze.

Brass tacks

The McElduff dilemma is not just one of postboxes and paintbrushes. It extends across the whole of community action. It embraces the need for ideologies in a changed economic climate, and is one facing all leftists in the island of Ireland, the PUP as much as SF. One even hears a DUP horn faintly blowing: did not Malcolm detect the great Reverend Doctor use the word "liberal" last week? And without obvious distaste!

The issue is how to make social -- even socialist -- alternatives attractive, and then work -- be it in 6, 26 or 32 counties. In other words, to make a society which is caring, sharing, and deserving. The flag-waving and sloganeering can follow later.

And that's an issue far bigger than just this posting.

So, altogether now:

It's not that easy bein' green;
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold --
Or something much more colorful like that.
Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, February 19, 2009

O'Plod 'fesses up

This could be the direst Irish joke going, were it not for the impeccable source:
HE WAS one of Ireland’s most reckless drivers, a serial offender who crossed the country wantonly piling up dozens of speeding fines and parking tickets while somehow managing to elude the law.

So effective was his modus operandi of giving a different address each time he was caught that by June 2007 there were more than 50 separate entries under his name, Prawo Jazdy, in the Garda Pulse system. And still not a single conviction.
Then someone in the Garda traffic division consulted a dictionary, and posted a warning:
“Prawo Jazdy is actually the Polish for driving licence and not the first and surname on the licence,” he wrote.
Sphere: Related Content
All the legislation in the world will not abolish kissing

Quite why eludes him, but Malcolm's plimsoll line of decadence is marked by a minor writer from a century ago, whose work he has never read (but who provided the quotation for the headline above):
Would you like to sin
With Elinor Glyn
On a tiger skin?
Or would you prefer
To err
With her
On some other fur?
Oh dear, Malcolm!

Another of Malcolm's paranoias is a distaste for those self-serving "surveys". Anyone seeking the dodgiest of statistics (or, rather, pseudo-stats and factoids) need look no further.

Such PR jobs repeatedly "prove" something like the life-enhancing virtues of snake-oil, and how its consumption magnifies one's attractiveness to the opposite sex. The small print shows the finding is based on a random survey in single figures, and is sponsored by the Snake Oil Consortium.

Malcolm's semi-conscious state brooded on these notions when he read that even the Vatican is at the snake-oil game, apparently marking score cards at the Confessional:
Women are prouder than men, but men are more lustful, according to a Vatican report which states that the two sexes sin differently.

A Catholic survey found that the most common sin for women was pride, while for men, the urge for food was only surpassed by the urge for sex.
That story, in various treatments, provided jollies for many journos and sub-editors. Not, of course, that the Vatican could be in need of some light relief, especially after the "Bishop" Richard Williamson debacle.

The Vatican helpfully updates the seven deadly sins to modern society:
The revised list included seven modern sins it said were becoming prevalent during an era of "unstoppable globalisation".

These included: genetic modification, experiments on the person, environmental pollution, taking or selling illegal drugs, social injustice, causing poverty and financial greed.
Well, perhaps there's some sense in that. Yet, it is a very selective list.

It omits at least seven more:
  • Wilful subversion of scientific study of gene therapies;
  • Misrepresentation of contraception;
  • The malevolence of "pro-life" campaigns;*
  • Wholesale gynophobia (compare Article 41.2.1 of de Valera's Constitution of 1937);*
  • Condoning child molestation by the priesthood;*
  • Denying healthcare in the name of "Faith and Morals";*
  • Denying basic civil rights to minority denominations.*
The perceptive will have realised...

those items marked with the asterisk have particular relevance to Ireland.

For light relief, cue Tom:

Malcolm finds it all reminiscent, too, of Moses coming down from the mountain (curiously, a mountain with a dual personality: Sinai and/or Horeb):
"Well, there's good news and there's bad news.

The good news is we've got Him down to ten.

The bad news is that adultery is still in at number seven."
Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I can see fearfully now Seanie has gone ...

... or something ineffably daft. That's the great Martyn Turner, above, setting his imprint on the news.

Teiresias, the blind seer, was Malcolm's last-but-one starring rôle on the Irish stage (well, OK, at the open-air theatre at the back of UCD in Stephen's Green). In the original Euripidean Greek, too.

He had a speech which, in very loose translation, starts something like:
When you meet a wise man,
It isn't hard to talk sense;
But you, Pentheus,
On the other hand,
Are a pain in the arse.
Ever since, Malcolm has had regard for intellectuals who can communicate.

At the moment we desperately need a few easy-on-the-ear, quick-on-the-uptake economists who can explain why we are up the creek without a poodle.

Britain has one such in the all-knowing, all-purpose, sure-fire Robert Peston. Since Peston has been lucid and not sufficiently partisan in his explanations, he has been seen as sympathetic to the Government. Hence, there is a campaign among Tories and similar scum to blame the messenger, to make the reporter and commentator the story.


Today's Irish Times has an analysis piece by Professor Morgan Kelly of UCD. It is available, at the moment freely, on line: do not pass Go, go straight to the goal. It is perlucid; but it certainly is not favourable to Biffo's government.

Anyone expecting the second half of the old cliché
-- Lo! be of good cheer, said the angel, for things could be worse.
And, lo! Surely enough, things were worse
will not be disappointed.

Kelly starts with a stunner:
BETWEEN COLLAPSING house prices, bankrupt banks and spiralling unemployment, you might be forgiven for thinking that fate has already dealt Ireland every misfortune in its hand. However, there may be one more unpleasant surprise in store for us, the prospect that international investors unexpectedly stop lending to the Government.
He then cogently explains the size of the problem: that the Irish Government is committed to borrowing €20,000,000,000 a year for the immediate future. Kelly quantifies the size of that:
everything [the Republic] spends on wages or on social welfare – or about 15 per cent of a falling national income.
Just as Pentheus did not want to listen to Teiresias' sage advice, so few will want to comprehend that one without a gulp or choke or three.

Kelly then lays out why this spooks the market:
  • the Irish Exchequer, driven by the prospect of an ever-deepening slump, is committed to borrowing heavily at a time when the international money markets have dried up;
  • the bill for that rash promise on bank guarantees (a guarantee that sparked even worse problems for the UK banks -- but both Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling are being as diplomatic as they dare about that one);
  • the vicious spiral of unemployment (the equivalent of a rise of half-a-million in the UK figures -- and in one month);
  • the parallel collapse of Irish government income;
  • and lo! said the angel: no prospect in sight of things being better.
Then is proffered what the dramaturge or novelist would recognise as the "moment of lightening" (and, yes, that is correctly spelled). In the masterly hands of Kelly, even that comes mixed with hemlock:
The ability of the State to continue funding itself ultimately depends on the size of these [Bank-owned] bad debts. If they are of the order of €10–€20 billion, we will survive. If they are of the order of €50-€60 billion, we are sunk.

Irish banks could easily lose this much. If we suppose that most of the €20 billion lent to builders will not reappear this side of Judgment Day, along with 20 per cent of the €90 billion lent to developers, and 10 per cent of the €120 billion in mortgages, then we are already up to €50 billion.
Having chilled every spine in (and beyond) the island, Kelly walks us through the potential wreckage:
We would be forced to seek an international bailout... We could expect cuts of one-quarter to one-third in public sector wages and social welfare benefits, and draconian tax rises to bring the deficit back to around 5 per cent of national income in two years.
Like all exponents of grand-guignol, Kelly throws in just that extra frisson:
There is actually a worse scenario where international bond markets suffer a general panic... Not only does Ireland gets torpedoed, but also Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain and Austria. The IMF and EU simply would not have the resources to bail out so many economies and we would be entirely on our own.
Kelly even gives us a villain to hiss: Brian Lenihan, who not only looks fit for the part of William Corder, but is first ridiculed for his:
boast that the [Bank] liability guarantee was “the cheapest bailout in the world so far”, an assurance that already ranks in the annals of supreme political irony alongside Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time”.
Then in another vitriolic comparison:
Watching the ineptitude and complacency of Lenihan’s bank bailout, we can understand increasingly how the people of New Orleans must have felt as they watched George Bush rescue their city: “Brianie: you’re doing a heck of a job.”
Does the good Professor have a negative equity problem, perhaps? Hmmm?

And the punch-line?

Well, here she comes, ready or not:
If, on top of this, we suffer a sudden stop, people will see their pensions and Government spending slashed to pay off the gambling losses of Seán FitzPatrick and his pals. The Irish social fabric would certainly rip and unprecedented civil disorder ensue.
A casual visitor (unlike all good Irishmen) might need "Seanie", Mr Seán FitzPatrick, explained. He is now the (very definitely) former CEO of Allied Irish Bank. For much of a decade, "Seanie" had been on the take: taking in excess of €122 million of "loans" from the Bank. The accounts didn't show them. The auditors didn't suss them.

When he was eventually exposed, "Seanie" was full of the milk of human fellowship:
The cause of our problem was global, so I can't say 'sorry' with any kind of sincerity.
He even had a recipe for the government to recover any losses from the AIB disaster: cut spending. Throw to the wolves the children, the widows, the minimal state health care, all and anything -- but not the bankers.

And the rot did not stop there.

"Seanie" achieved his coup through swapping arrangements with the Irish Nationwide Buidling Society, which have only been exposed in the last few hours:
Irish Nationwide gave tens of millions worth of sterling and dollar loans to former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick as part of his loan transfers between the two institutions to conceal up to €122 million in borrowings from Anglo Irish...

The Irish Times understands the building society provided Mr FitzPatrick with loans of $56 million and £14 million on September 26th, 2007. Irish Nationwide also lent the then Anglo Irish chairman $26 million on September 27th, 2006. This loan was secured with an undertaking from Anglo Irish, meaning that the bank would repay the loan if he could not. The £14 million personal loan was secured on properties and 4.5 million Anglo Irish shares, worth €55 million at the time.

The building society had its long-term bank deposit rating and senior debt rating reduced by two notches to one level above speculative grade or “junk” status yesterday.
To lose one business, Mr. FitzPatrick, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

[Anent that: Malcolm hears that a peculiarly-vicious examiner at Cambridge set the Lady Bracknell speech for translation into French. Bastard.]

A harsh critic might feel, with some reason, that Malcolm has barely risen above the nadir of fisking here. So be it.

Malcolm excuses himself that he drew attention to a good and spirited argument from a more-than-competent writer. Teiresias was blind, but spoke wisely: Professor Kelly has both good sight and his wits about him.

As they say on the streets of Tottenham: Respec' Sphere: Related Content
Righting a wrong

That previous posting (about the divine Judy Collins and her version of Someday Soon) failed to correct one of Malcolm's long-time misconceptions.

One of his less-favoured folk acts was Ian and Sylvia. They came out of the Toronto scene and produced a couple of albums in the early Sixties: workmanlike stuff, but pretty anodyne. Harmless. Christopher Guest's A Mighty Wind skewered them and their type pretty well as "Mitch and Mickey".

An aside: mainly for Zach's benefit

The act deserves credit for introducing the songs of Gordon Lightfoot. OK, OK -- expect a blast of derision from Colorado -- but Lightfoot needs to be acknowledged. If You Could Read my Mind was good enough for Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell. Many might propose Canadian Railroad Trilogy as Lightfoot's greatest contribution (though it owes a lot to the model of Bob Gibson and Hamilton Camp's Civil War Trilogy):

Others might come up with Early Morning Rain:

For Malcolm, though, his acme was The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, memorialising the sinking of an ore-carrier, with the loss of all 29 of the crew, in Lake Superior in November 1975:
Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the words turn the minutes to hours ...
Back to Ian Tyson

Tyson is not in the same league as Lightfoot, but he has contributed two good ballads to the tradition: Someday Soon and Four Strong Winds (another one good enough for Johnny Cash). Despite the social conscience of the latter song, for Malcolm the greater of those two is the former:
There's a young man that I know,
Whose age is twenty one.
He comes from down in southern Colorado.
Just out of the service, he's looking for his fun:
Someday soon, going with him, someday soon.
Memory nudge

As the synapses slacken, Malcolm needs to be prompted to these recollections and redresses.

This one came from the visit to the Irish Club he noted in today's post on Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service. There, hanging in the smaller of the first-floor reception rooms, is a portrait of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. It is, like all the other pictures hanging in the Club, hardly a great original. But neither (Malcolm believes) is the one in the National Portrait Gallery:

Nor is the vessel in Lightfoot's song named for the executed Fenian: it took to the bottom the name of a far lesser being, a Milwaukee banker.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 13, 2009

Some day soon

The BBC Folk America series has been a lodestone for Malcolm's life the last couple of weekends.

Tonight he watched the second evening's concert from the Barbican. The first night (broadcast last week) had been Seasick Steve introducing a series of decent performers. Tonight was the second concert, with Billy Bragg linking. The theme was "Greenwich Village" recherché. The notion was to go back to Washington Square and environs in the early Sixties.

Fair enough.

Thanks to mortality, too many of the main actors were missing, though Bragg managed to connect a capella with the afterlife in I Dreamed I Saw Phil Ochs Last Night.

The natural termination of the hour was Judy Collins, the original Judy Blue Eyes. She did Both Sides Now, but for Malcolm that should for ever be the divine Jodi Mitchell: he still has the original LP in the attic, and hums along each time each comes into land from a westbound trans-Atlantic flight:

Just before the encore Judy Collins did Some Time Soon. So, switch onto reprise mode, go back half a century, and enjoy:

God! She was gorgeous. But we all were, then.

It (and we) didn't get any better. Sphere: Related Content
Sell-out at the Savile
The old war-horse was out for yet another conventional, almost ceremonial canter. It was as benign and unchallenging as one might expect. All passion is now spent. The lion is bewintered.

And yet, there are still flashes. He recollects how Prime Ministers and Presidents have telephoned him repeatedly, and how he has always set them to rights. He even manages, without the old hell-fire and brimstone, and perhaps just the once, to voice the alien word "Taoiseach" but is more comfortable to anglicise the office to "prime minister". This leads into an anecdote of how he presented the "young man" (he means Bertie "Dig Out" Ahern) first with a glove of James II, and then with an original King James Bible. The rest of the time. he manages, even in this less godly place, and to an audience of hardened professional types, to convey his statements of faith without embarrassment to anyone. He defends himself nimbly from the "chuckle brothers" accusation: it is better to chuckle and be hopeful than to be grim.

All in all, a pleasant time was had by all. This was one of the few occasions when the TCD dining club (normally a dinner-jackets and pearls event) had relaxed into lounge-suit mode, in deference to the guest speaker. The room was full: for once there had been a waiting list for places, and every place was taken. Malcolm had been sworn by the lady in his life (who, as the treasurer pointed out later in the evening, is the one who signs the cheques) that he was, under no circumstances, to ask a question.

In a moment of conversation with the Reverend Doctor, however, Malcolm recalled that the last time he had seen him in the flesh was at an Apprentice Boys parade in Derry, back in the bad time of the early 1980s.

Malcolm had been there to see what seemed a bizarre ritual, though one with a strong charge of menace and danger. He had equipped himself with both his Olympus OM1s, to record the banners -- which are as colourful and nostalgic as those borne at Durham miners' gala (and now seem almost as anachronistic). Thanks to the magic of Kodachrome, Malcolm still has those slides: digital images should last so well.

That in turn leads to a couple of other memories of that period:

Visiting the Chalet on Portadown's Armagh Road

The Chalet was a frolic, originally in the Swiss style, a decent road-house pub. It was bombed out at least twice. By the time of this memory, it was little more than a brick and concrete dug-out, buttressed with sandbags. Entry was controlled by a entryphone and CCTV. Only by passing through three levels of security did one reach the bar and refreshment.

Malcolm, with English accent haircut and newspaper, was subjected to the usual scrutiny and discreet questioning: was he on holiday? was he over on business? This, Malcolm appreciated, was a game. No-one would ask the unspoken but essential question directly: are you with the army? That would be too blunt (and it would imply that Malcolm was one of the "spooks" of intelligence). Equally, Malcolm, enjoying the sport, was not render himself up too easily. It took some ten minutes before a relieved questioner was able to announce, full voiced, to the entire bar, "It's all right! He belongs to the young [name of Malcolm's wife's family] girl!"

Opening night at the Orange Hall

Was it the same visit that Malcolm was invited to join the revelry to celebrate the opening of an Orange Hall?

The afternoon had been the formalities. There had been parades, more banners, and speechifying. There had been the sight and oratory of gingery, younger, yet-unlorded David Trimble, recently escaped from William Craig's Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party and sporting a broad Orange sash. Even then, despite the boy David's slingshots of bile, there were noises and susurrations in this ultra-loyalist, west-of-the-Bann crowd that he was not considered sufficiently hard-line.

In the evening, the mood was different. Orange Halls are, of course, "dry". This one, that evening was definitely not so. To escape the heaving crowd, Malcolm made a quiet retreat to the back-stage. Only later did he hear from his brother-in-law the story: "Hey! Stevie! There's an Englishman in the kitchen, speaking English. What d'you want done with him?" Since the utterance came from a UDA/UVF man who later in the revelry took to discharging a revolver in the orchard next door, this was no idle remark.

Back to the present

So the quieter, reflective, elderly, benign Paisley is a mark of the times. The times have changed, and we in them. Paisley's initial remarks were telling. He did not expect any return to the bad old days. Everyone, both sides of the great Northern Ireland divide, was agreed on that. The settlement as of now was decided and determined.

He balanced that with a personal remark: he had recently fallen. He had only one strong leg. Fortunately, it was his right foot.
Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A loose connection

Malcolm has been mystified by a curious circumstance: why do certain of his posts attract continuing interest?

Unlike some, he does not concern himself with what the commercial operators deem "Statporn". That is probably just as well, recognising Malcolm's tiny presence in cyberspace.

Even so, he could not understand why particular postings, for no outstanding merit, attracted particular, and international interest.

Yes, they had piled in when he blogged on the BNP membership list: that could well be salacious interest.

The odd posting, too, had been picked up, mentioned and thereby recommended by the aristocracy of the blogsmiths.

But that didn't explain the popularity of one particular piece.

This had been inspired by the death of Bill Deedes, the dean of British journalism who was the never-seen, never heard antagonist of Private Eye's "Dear Bill" column. Since Deedes was widely assumed to be the model for Evelyn Waugh's equally magnificent William Boot, that posting was a reflection on the real-life models for artistic constructs.

So, is there an endless procession of Google-enquirers panting for an opinion on Deedes/Boot? Perhaps, but that was not what Malcolm discovered.

It now appears that another person mentioned in that same posting was the flame to which these moths continue to be attracted.

She is Alice Ernestine Prin, a cabaret singer, a small-time actress, a minor expressionist painter, and -- above all -- an artist's model. She died in Sanary-sur-mer, a small port just down the coast from Toulon, in 1953, aged just 52, from drink or drugs. Her body was returned to Paris, where she was buried with considerable cermony and artistic doing in the Montparnasse Cemetery. She therefore shares a small patch of earth with the likes of de Maupassant, de Beauvoir and Sartre, Baudelaire, Alfred Dreyfus, César Franck, Eugène Ionesco, Susan Sontag, the delicious Jean Seberg, and that occasional cricketer Samuel Beckett. If there is an artists' plot, anywhere in the world, illuminated with such a constellation of stars, Malcolm would wish to be notified.

Yet, Alice Prin was not buried under that name. By then she had ascended to the pantheon, those few known by a single name. She was now "Kiki", Kiki de Montparnasse, model for Man Ray (hence the top of this post, and the more familiar illustration to the right) and for others.

So far, so good. But all those "hits" descending on Malcolm's site are not earnest searchers for artistic truth.

It seems that "Kiki" has become the trade name for at least one , err ..., somewhat louche operation.

Not, of course, that Malcolm would wish to advertise. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The wit and wisdom of the US military

Once upon a time the US military needed an all-purpose vehicle:

[Sorry about the soundtrack, but the consolation is Marilyn at 1:53]

In 1942 the whole commissioning process took eleven days for design and tender, 49 days to prototype, and 75 days to delivery of evaluation batch.

By the end of the War, Willys and Ford had produced well 640,000 of them. At the end of hostilites, they were dumped in the theatres of operations, because they were so cheap it wasn't worth bringing them home.

Time passes.

In 1999 the US Marines needed an all-purpose vehicle. After ten years, it is now ready for deployment. So take a look:
Each vehicle, known as a "Growler", will cost the US budget $209,000. Repeat: that's each.

It is designed to tow a 120mm mortar and ammunition trailer. The whole set-up (Growler+mortar+trailer) costs $1,078,000.

So far, the US Marines have committed to buy 81 Growlers and 12 mortars with ammunition trailers.

Note: "military intelligence" is a well-attested oxymoron. Sphere: Related Content
Now for the music industry bail-out?

For decades now Detroit and Nashville have been symbiotic. Each excess of the former has been lauded by the latter.

Now the US car industry is under notice to change its ways, to go -- well, not quite green, more of a dirty yellow colour (© the Goon Show, 1959).

Which raises a problem: how to celebrate the new age of US motoring?

There is a distinct dearth of paeons to Camrys or Civics (though those are the US best-selling cars in recent years). Nobody is hymning Altimas or Infinitis (which UK types would recognise as Nissans).


Well, consider this slogan for a clue:
Altima drivers reject conformity, but fasten their seat-belts.
That's a long way distant from:
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected
and steppin' out over the line.
Baby this town rips the bones from your back:
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap --
We gotta get out while we're young...
Malcolm reckons we can take it as read that Mr Springsteen will not be spear-heading the new, smaller, more economical US car culture.

For decades the onward-and-upward theme has emphasised power, speed and sex. Or, as an alternative, gross displays of bling (as represented by the whole toke of Cadillac songs).

Some (including Sam Phillips, who produced the original) claimed the first rock'n'roll record was Rocket 88, attributed to Jackie Brenston, but written and sung by Ike Turner. Ike was celebrating the first "muscle car", achieved by dropping a 5-litre, 135hp V8 engine into a comparatively-light chassis. The name was so potent it persisted in the Oldsmobile range down to 1999.

By the end of the Eisenhower era, prosperity was reaching the young, who celebrated it with jeans, cars and jollifications. The auto-music this spawned went in different directions.

First off the starting line were the Rockabillies, carrying on from where Ike Turner and Billy Haley had started. They became fossilised in an adoration of muscle cars and trucks. The icon was the mid-50s Cadillac, the likes of which Johnny Cash's One Piece at a Time celebrated:

On the West Coast, boiling up from Orange County, things had to be somewhat more complicated. On one hand , the car craze had to have a frisson of danger. Jimmy Dean underwrote that when he wrote off himself (and his Porsche 550 Spyder) at the junction of Highways 41 and 46. Since Malcolm passed that way, some years ago, this has been designated the "James Dean Memorial Junction", complete with road sign.

This had to be incorporated into teenage angst, and therefore Jan & Dean designated a stretch of Sunset Boulevard as Dead Man's Curve (where Jan Berry subsequently piled himself up).

However, to be commercial, the sub-genre also had to be parent-friendly. Hence the ambiguities of Little Old Lady from Pasadena and the like: these kids, after all, were getting their wheels on the back of Daddy's bonuses:
Well, she got her daddy's car
And she cruised through the hamburger stand now:
Seems she forgot all about the library
Like she told her old man now;
And with the radio blasting,
Goes cruising just as fast as she can now
And she'll have fun, fun, fun,
'Til her daddy takes the T-bird away.
The Thunderbird was Ford's answer to the Chevy Corvette, but was sold as a "personal luxury car", not as a sports car: in other words, it would definitely be Daddy's car. Its status as a lust-object is established by the "Blonde in the T-bird" (right) who gives Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) the come-on in American Graffiti.

For the jeunesse dorée of mid-60s SoCal, the vehicles of choice (and therefore repeatedly in the lyrics) were Harvey Earl's Corvette and the Pontiac GTO.

So, where now?

It is unlikely that the love of the SUV will quickly dissipate (though they are a drug on the market). The ideal for many is still the truck. As long as there's plenty of metal out there, and a grease-monkey like Danny Zako to cherish it, the Great American love affair will continue.

Now, how to make sexy and so sell those "compacts"?

Detroit and the US car industry desperately need someone and something, other than a girl, my Lord!, in a flat-bed Ford, to go past a corner in Wilmslow, Arizona.

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, February 1, 2009

ho do we finger for the Crisis?

The New York Times is more than a newspaper: it is a Tardis. It expands in all dimensions, particularly at the weekends.

One 0f its delights, much missed by Malcolm in London, is the Magazine section. It is what the Sunday Times in Britain would dearly aspire to; but still, even after the latest revamp, distinctly lacks. The Sunday Morning Moan, of course, is too obsessed with its own self-importance, being unremittingly snide and exploitative of suggestive images (today's gratuitous nude is in the Culture section, linked to a review of a book by -- wait for it! -- Cocks).

The original, all the way from Eighth and 40th, owes quite a bit of its DNA (though, fortunately, not its ideology) to the likes of Henry Luce's Life. It regularly contains pieces that are too long, too extensive, too cerebral, too dependent on illustration to fit neatly into the broadsheet.

To the point, Malcolm!

This week it contains an extensive essay, The Big Fix, by David Leonhardt, on the US government and financial crisis.

Malcolm has no intention here of doing a précis of its 7,800 words: everyone worth a grain of salt will read the original for themselves. They will be amply rewarded by some perceptive insights. For one example (and this, surely, is the answer to the Cameroonies and their infantile billboards):
When the war ended, the federal government’s debt equaled 120 percent of the gross domestic product (more than twice as high as its likely level by the end of next year). The rapid economic growth of the 1950s and ’60s — more than 4 percent a year, compared with 2.5 percent in this decade — quickly whittled that debt away. Over the coming 25 years, if growth could be lifted by just one-tenth of a percentage point a year, the extra tax revenue would completely pay for an $800 billion stimulus package.
And that's only from the first page.

But the finger, Malcolm! Where to point the finger!

Well, it's hidden toward the end of the second section of Leonhardt's essay:
A crisis changes the dynamic. It’s an opportunity to do things you could not do before.

England’s crisis was the Winter of Discontent, in 1978-79, when strikes paralyzed the country and many public services shut down. The resulting furor helped elect Margaret Thatcher as prime minister and allowed her to sweep away some of the old economic order. Her laissez-faire reforms were flawed in some important ways — taken to an extreme, they helped create the current financial crisis — and they weren’t the only reason for England’s turnaround. But they made a difference. In the 30 years since her election, England has grown faster than Germany or Japan.
Yeah, well: Leonhadt is stronger on economics than politically-correct geography.

You got that, didn't you, Iain Dale, Montgomerie and gutter-mouthed Staines?

It was she what done it.

Hilda Margaret Peacock, in the Treasury china-shop, with a sledge-hammer. Sphere: Related Content
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