Saturday, 12 February 2011

where are gilbert and sullivan when you want them

I gave up writing satirical novels when no sooner had I thought of an absurdity than real life capped it with ease. I wrote of uniformed bobbies invading a mutinous Welsh island and within months the metropolitan police invaded an island in the Caribbean.
Since childhood I have had a sense that Britain as a society was collapsing round my ears. The maps in my school days were predominantly red to denote our empire. Nowadays, the red signifies embarrassment. Africa is in a state of collapse, Pakistan was apparently created to give the natives on the Indian sub-continent a good reason for killing each other. Marriage was discouraged by our government, discipline was a punishable offence, parent power spluttered and died. Ours is the century of universal education? In a pig's ear. Our universities are open to all? Rather like student demonstrations.

I am not clear why they are demonstrating. If they weren't, the mass unemployed would take to the streets in violent action. There was no time when the state could afford free education - and is paying for it so bad? Top weight it will cost a student £27,000 which he can borrow on no interest terms. A student will not be called upon to pay it back until he is earning £21,000 a year. Not a bad investment when after 14 months you are in profit.

Why when we have such excellent classes on the Open University do we need buildings of learning anyway? It is a medieval concept that went out with the Victorian penny. At least two thirds of degree courses were created as job opportunities for lecturers.

It looks as though we are going to lose our free libraries. Is that such a bad thing? When I was young I was educated by library ticket. Go into any library now and you will find little worth reading. Librarians combed their shelves for any book that was remotely literary and sold it. On the internet there are several sites offering a million books free. The public libraries are internet cafes that don't sell coffee.

Although we know it is wrong, we bow down to Europe and give murderers, thieves, paedophiles and fraudsters the right to vote and determine the society which they have abused. Two of my friends are furious. They have never had the vote in their adult lives. Peers of the Realm are barred.

Our prime minister's visits to America look more and more like a summons to the headmaster's study. Our Houses of Parliament have become houses of ill repute. When I was a boy, peace and fairness in our avenue was maintained by an unofficial coalition of fathers. Later on, irresponsible unions ran the country and ruined our industry.

The Speaker's chattel is photographed dressed only in a bed sheet; the new editor of The Lady, inevitably one of the ubiquitous Johnsons, feels obliged to announce to her genteel readership that her teenage daughter has shaved her pubic hair. There was a time when I felt the kingdom was a tragedy: I did not know it would become a farce.

I expect the reason the oak tree is joining the elm in oblivion is that it no longer wishes to symbolise the heap of rubbish that was once a country worth loving, even dying for. I can hardly wait to join them.

Which reminds me - my late chum Stanley Blenkinsop, once news editor of the Daily Express and the last man I knew to wear a monocle, has ordered his ashes to be scattered between the Express building and Yates's Wine Lodge.

Our lethal police force wouldn't have anyone saying, as foreigners were wont to say, “I think your policemen are wonderful”. Indeed they are Dixons more often in the dock than on the green. I have always thought there was something vaguely comic about the Peelers' hats. Pointed for the other ranks; and for the officers, peaked caps, dripping with silver lace like seagoing chauffeurs. Puzzling how our lethal police are so dexterous with automatic rifles, yet after five years of investigating they are still having difficulty with phones. They are quick to advise on the law: crime-ridden householders have been warned by them not to put wire over shed windows. The helpful police point out a burglar might injure himself breaking the windows AND WOULD SUE.

Understandable under the circumstances that a number of chief constables have put their heads together to write a 21-page manual on how to ride a bike, which also includes handy hints on how to eat lemon curd to boost energy levels, avoid swarming insects and cure chapped lips and sore bottoms.

After explaining the use of hand signals, they advise riders to judge the time each signal should last by saying “one elephants, two elephants, three elephants”, as was done in the 1981 film “Gregory's Girl”. Were seven pages necessary to explain how to get off a cycle - bring your cycle to a halt before getting off, when cycling downhill do not put your feet down to slow down?- But how wise it was to warn them not to pursue suspects until they passed the advanced cycling course. And surely three pages on what to eat whilst cycling is excessive?

But you can see why I have given up writing satirical fiction.