Saturday, 17 October 2009

They're Under Allah's Orders

It has nothing to do with me. I am an aspiring Zen Buddhist and we take a very relaxed view on the God business. But if we are wrong and there is a meddlesome Supreme Being, my money is on Allah by a neck, with Mohammed a close second.

Look at the full SP.

One of the first outsiders to visit the Muslim Holy Cities was a shipwrecked cabin boy called Joseph Pitts. In 1679 he wrote: “I profess I could not chuse but to admire to see these poor creatures so extraordinarily devout and affectionate, when they were about these superstitions, and with what awe and trembling they were possessed...............”

By the 19th century you couldn't put the odds on paper for a Muslim win. An early Arabist John Lewis Burckhardt visited Mecca and Medina in 1814 disguised as a member of the Mamluk corps. He was shocked by what he saw in the Holy Mosque.

“The Kaaba is rendered the scene of such indecency and criminal acts as can not with propriety be more particularly noticed. They are not only practiced with impunity, but, it may be said, almost publicly; and my own indignation has often been excited on witnessing abominations which called forth from other passing spectators nothing more than a laugh............”

Wisely the owner looked for another trainer. He found a lawyer called Muhammad 'Abd al-Wahab
who decided that all knowledge not based on the Koran and traditions of the Prophet was false. He tried to introduce his training methods in his home town 'Uyainah and was kicked out. The neighbouring town.Dar'ihay welcomed him with open arms. Its mayor, Muhammad ibn Saud, hired him for the House of Sa'ud Racing Stables and promised to make his training methods compulsory among other stables in the neighbourhood. His stable boys took the new system so seriously they called themselves the Wahhabi Boys.

They were trained as street fighters and sent to spread the doctrine by wiping out the opposition. That was the cradle of the super-rich stable, Saudi Arabia.

In 1818 the Wahhabi- trained stable boys even went to war with Egypt and only narrowly lost.
To compensate, Allah gave them oil as an undercover bribe and they never looked back.

Where was the West when all his was happening? Usually picking the wrong horse with breathtaking skill, unfailingly backing losers and acting as though it was taking part in a not very good amateur production of The Desert Song.

In 1918 the racing world was rocked by a scandal at The Peace to End All Peace Trophy meeting at Versailles. The meeting was meant to celebrate the end of the war. After a cabal in a railway carriage, an English and Welsh gambling syndicate took a commission from Arabia for an each way bet on a cert, Arab Kingdom. In fact they put the money on the secret favourite in the overnight declaration, Grab it For Us.

Shady figures, all of them with form - “Taffy” Lloyd Geoge, “Slimey” Bill Sykes and “Fingers” Picot - were convicted of rigging the verdict after a Stewards' Enquiry. They tried to make amends by leasing kingdom franchises to Sharif Hussein and Ibn Saud. But this was wrecked when another gambler “Doc” Balfour introduced a ringer called “Israel”, racing under American colours. His riding instructions to the jockey were uncompromising: “For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country…The four great powers are committed to Zionism, and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”
The future of the Race under Muslim dominance has seen many changes. Wahhabi rules apply at most major stables and there has been a sad change in the Home of Racing, Saudi Arabia.
Death on a Haj or pilgrimage is the End most consummately to be wished for. In earlier times pilgrims had to rely on disasters, whores, disease, pillaging and murder by the Desert Arabs who controlled the Pilgrim routes. Those routes have ben replaced by four lane highways. Speed and the unpredictably bizarre oriental driving skills render the entry into paradise and the sixteen raisins, the award for dying, easier to achieve.

In his book “Armies in the Sand”, a masterly account of the rise of the Wahhabi, the American Arabist John Sabini writes:

“(The Holy City) now offers reception centres, guides, accommodation and medical services. To perform these tasks it uses the most advanced techniques of radio, telephone, closed circuit television, helicopters, anti-biotics, cameras, computers and the silicon chip......At first the Wahhabi Imams opposed these innovations as the work of heretics and the having the Quaran read on the first radio broadcast from the kingdom they became convinced the innovations were good if they were done in the service of Allah. But the Saudi Government still enforces the moral standards of its Unitarian origins. Tobacco and music are now permitted, but alcohol, prostitution and unseemly dress are forbidden.”

Puzzlingly these restrictions do not seem to apply to owners when they are racing abroad.

++ ++ ++ ++ ++

The great joy in our lives is our old gardener Hipkin. He is the quintessential Fenman and a keen observer of his neighbours. This week he excelled himself. I wish you could hear his brogue, which, alas, is dying in the Fen towns in favour of Estuary English.

“Now,” he said, “Ahm goin to tell e somthin. This woman what I work for she sez to me, she says, 'Ahm gooin on oliday tomorrer and I dunno know weer to hide me money.' And er usband, he says, 'Ah'll bury it in't gardin an I'll stick a twig in so we'll know weer it is.' So that's what they do and they goes away.

“And what happened next day is along comes their son with his rotavator and rotavates the whole garden. And his machine chews up the stick. Took em a week to find the tin.”

Hipkin is seriously rich yet at 80 he delivers papers every morning and two afternoons. He tends twenty gardens, for many of which he makes no charge. We pay him but he refuses to take more than £8 for a shift that lasts at least four hours. His great joy is to take his partner Miss Beart to “Skeggie” (Skegness) where he plays bingo and always wins. He always takes to bingo his sagacious terrier called Bailey, who can count. “I says to 'im in the mornings, how many sausages d'you want for your breakfast and he goos 'Wuff, wuff, wuff'.”

Bailey has three meals a day of whatever Hipkin is eating. When they are going to Skeggie he gets very excited the night before because somehow he knows.

Miss Beart has seven rabbits which she keeps in seven hutches because she don't want no baby rabbits and Bailey likes nothing better than to go to their shed where he sits for hours looking at them adoringly. Hipkin adores Miss Beart who is 19 carat all through. He came one morning with a stone dog ornament which he wanted us to give a home. He explained: “Miss Beart cannot abear to look out of the window and see it sitting there in the cold.”


Report in The Guardian
“The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.
Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.
The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.
The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.”
Wiser councils prevailed but it is worrying the way the wind is blowing
MPs are up in arms because they might have to pay back massive sums they wheedled out of taxpayers. They want to keep it on the grounds they were claiming the money within the rules. They made the rules. Isn't that like a burglar legalising burglary?

Jacqui Smith apologised to Parliament for wrongfully claiming £110,000 and that is OK. Her agent claims she will be re-elected despite that because she is a good MP. It would be interesting to hear what you have to do to be a bad one.

I have voted in every election for 38 years. What you have just read are the reasons I will never vote again.


I will bet you didn't know Sean Bean puts Yorkshire Relish on his fish n' chips. He wouldn't if he lived round here. As I am sure you know, Yorkshire Relish is essential on Bloaters, which have just come into season.

I tried FOUR supermarkets. There was a battalion of Thai Relish, more Indian Relish than you could shake a stick at, gallons of Soya sauce, Chinese relish, Spanish Relish.

Yorkshire Relish? Not only do our supermarkets not stock it:neither the managers nor their staffs have ever heard of it. And there is Sean Sharp fighting and bleeding for us with his riflemen in the Spanish Peninsula. Is this how the nation shows its gratitude?