Friday, 2 April 2010

ODE TO THE decline and FALLEN

Henceforth The Sunday Times will be known is this kigdom of the blog as “The Decline and
Fall”. Anyone who doubts that Britain is a busted flush finds support in its pages. “Generals forced to Travel Second Class”, “The Most Corrupt Parliament in History”, “The Special Relationship is Over”, “More MPs For Hire”, “Schools and NHS Savage Cuts”. The only obvious good news is that John Prescott has been overruled and Pauline is to be made a Lady.

In that at least The Decline and Fall is in error. Nature made Pauline a Lady: the Crown is merely about to confirm her status. Mrs Prescott was a hairdresser at Quaintways when I was freelancing in Chester. Alas, I did not know her. Looking back, it is fascinating to recall exactly how ladylike the Quaintways girls were. And how glamorous.

I have a lot of time for Prescott who has achieved much from that start in steerage. He is very bright and a bruiser. However, I would keep him off TV. I believe he won the last election by thumping the Rhyl egg thrower but has helped in the loss of this one by his “Giovanni moments”, recurring attempts to shout down and interrupt his opponents in Newsnight debates. In fairness, the way politicians speak and shout over each other on radio and TV, breaking the first law of radio, shows them for the shoddy lot they are. Prescott's “hatred” of the Lords is a pose. Remember the documentary where he lunched with a foul-mouthed lord, with obvious delight? And indeed behaved better than his host.

Like Gibbon before it, our Decline and Fall is given to sensationalism. For example, generals are NOT being forced. Their expenses demand that they be conveyed from A to B by the most economical means. There is nothing to stop them paying the difference for comfort and privacy.That goes for MPs who can equally afford it. Rank should not demand privilege.

“The Most Corrupt Parliament” can only have been written by a sub-editor with no knowledge of history. Parliament has always been corrupt from at least the days of the venal Walpole. Nor can the sub-editor who wrote about the special relationship have any knowledge of politics. There has never been a special relationship. True, we fought on the same side in the war but hardly as allies. At their conferences both Truman and Roosevelt favoured Stalin above Churchill. The “special relationship” was based on the fact that Churchill was half American. His American mother was an even bigger tart than his daughter-in-law who flitted from Senatorial beds like a sex-mad moth. With such mothers is history conceived - and I use the word advisedly. I knew a doctor on Anglesey who fathered a number of aristocratic cuckoos.

The truth is that America was an empire in waiting and could only come to power over the corpse of the British Empire. Nothing shameful. That is how we did it with the Mugul and many other smaller empires. Empire building is a deadly game for dishonourable gain. Why else did Truman insist on immediate reparation of war debts which is where our present bankruptcy began?

The cuts in building new hospitals? We do not need new hospitals. There are closed wards in existing buildings and a chain of well maintained and woefully under-used cottage hospitals the length and breadth of the kingdom. The NHS bureaucracy is vastly overmanned.

We don't desperately need new schools either. We need teachers who can teach, to replace the many incompetents who are turning out feral ignoramuses. A gang in school blazers stabbing a boy on a tube station? In my day school teachers controlled classes, which were all above forty pupils in number.

Great Britain never was. It was just a better place to live in. Not a place where a grandmother would be fined £1,000, tagged and placed on curfew for selling a goldfish to boy under the age of 16 (a sting engineered by Trading Standards snoopers). In the same week, a convicted rapist who threw his victim on a rubbish dump had his deportation revoked bcause he married.

We should surrender our top seat in the UN to China, where, according to the NYT, “The Hongzhou company, at Hainan in the South China Sea, with its gleaming Times Coast condominium development by the marina, is in the vanguard of Hainan’s transformation. The yacht club already boasts more than 80 members who have each paid $92,000 for the privilege of parking their boats here for 23 years.

“'In China, Sanya will be the leader in luxury leisure,' Wang Dafu, the owner of Hongzhou, said one afternoon while cruising the bay in his 72-foot Pershing yacht.
“He puffed on a Cohiba cigar. 'The reason you earn money,' he said, 'is to spend it.'
“On the west side of the yacht marina, there is a neighborhood where more than 1,000 fishermen and family members live in cramped alleyways.
“The families have lived here for generations, but local officials and the real estate company that owns the yacht club, Hongzhou Group, are trying to persuade them to move off the land. Four women sitting outside one home said the Hongzhou Group was offering less than $20 a square foot as compensation.”...The joys of Communism.
And what of the Land of the Free?
On Wednesday these were the headlines in Tina Brown's net newspaper “The Daily Beast”:
Bill Clinton's $20 Million Breakup
by Kim Masters

A money feud has busted up first friends Bill Clinton and Ron Burkle,
sources tell The Daily Beast. Kim Masters on the alleged $20 million
"stiffing" the tycoon gave the ex-president.

The GOP's Dirty Sexy Money
by Conor Friedersdorf

Wooing donors at a strip club: It's just the latest Republican National
Committee scandal that could cost Michael Steele his job.

Stepping Out in Stripper Shoes
by Rebecca Dana

$1,600 for shoes that make you look like a high-class tramp? From Lucite
platforms to S&M detailing, this season's crop of must-have heels are
fit for a lady of the night.

14-Year-Old Charged in D.C. Shooting

A 14-year-old has been charged with killing four people and wounding
five in what was the worst shooting in Washington, D.C. in 16 years.He drove a minivan towards a crowd and opened fire. The police then gave chase. The group had just returned from the funeral of a recent shooting victim. Among the victims were six men and three women.


I won't bore you with the tale of the death threat I received in my own drawing room; how an armed terrorist followed me down the hall; how I warned him that Druid, my bloodhound, was asleep behind a door and how my putative assassin asked anxiously, "It won't bite me, will it?"

Bite? Druid didn't even wake as we stepped over him.

In his defence, dogs are good at sleeping. My wife has a long dog which has two speeds. Fast and Fast Asleep. I minded him last weekend. No problem. He only moves to change beds, to eat and to relieve himself.

I should say that Druid was deaf, blind in one eye and had an indifferent sense of smell. In consequence, it was important when you took him for a walk to keep very close to his good eye and his single active nostril. Otherwise you ceased to exist for him and he thought he had been abandoned on a deserted planet. This led him to sit down and howl so piteously that I was twice reported to the RSPCA by passers-by.
Nevertheless, bloodhounds are an addiction with me. At my happiest I was mainlining on two.

Minnie and Amy were the only bloodhounds in Gwynedd. They joined me when they were five months old and tipping the scales at five stone. Imagine Dame Edith Evans with a tail and a face apparently carved out of Mount Rushmore.Thick with it. In an intelligence test of 76 breeds, bloodhounds came seventy-fifth because, where other dogs have brains, bloodhounds have hearts.

I prefer it that way because I thrive on being loved immoderately. But life with bloodhounds is not easy. It took two days to explain to them the relationship between the mouth and the vitamin pill.

"Sit" was easy because mostly they are doing that anyway. "Stay"? No problem. It is "Move" they have trouble with. Or did until the day I took them to the gate at the bottom of the drive to get them accustomed to traffic. Picture us, an uncertain menage a trois at each end of a T shaped lead. At either tip of the crosspiece a bloodhound, Fonteyning briskly. At the far end of the downstroke what is laughingly called the handler.

When we reached the gate they sat instantly, having exhausted themselves on the 400-yard journey from the house doing spirited Pas de Bras to the admiration of passing motorists unused to hounds who do Scottish Country dancing. I reckon if it had not been for the JCB we would have been home and dry.

What happened when this motorised pterodactyl roared by was a choreographed knitting pattern. I would never have believed there was room between my legs for two five stone bloodhounds to pass each other - and going in opposite directions at that.

The hounds didn't believe it either, which, I suppose, explains why they repeated the move several times until I was flat on my back, in fetching leather puttees cunningly fashioned from a T-shaped dog lead, with a far from hushed puppy on either foot.

A HERO WRITES.............................
From Gordon Chesters, purveyor of the funniest emails, this, his first serious call:

Hi All,
I've received the following message from Bronco Lane about a cycle ride/climbing challenge in which he's participating to raise money for the Help 4 Heroes fund.  For those of you who don't know Bronco, he's a retired SAS man who reached the summit of Everest with the Army's first expedition back in 1976, losing all his toes and half his fingers through frost-bite for his trouble.  He went on to complete a very active SAS career and took part in several further climbing and polar ventures.   I'm also quite proud to say he is a country member of the Grumpy Old Gits of the Northumbrian Piper.
Cheers, Gordon.

Greetings Everyone!
I've been asked by Archie Scott an ex-SAS colleague and climbing friend to act as 'goffer' whilst he and another mate, Charlie Cook, cycle UK's End to End. On-route we will all ascend Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. Our time frame is 30th July to 10 August. 
I'm the van driver, spare hand and will act as reserve rider should either Archie or Charlie be injured or become ill. 
It's all in aid of the UK charity "Help 4 Heroes" and I have opened a page at for anyone who can afford to donate towards our target of raising £5000.    
Best wishes,