Some truly crazy ideas have been bouncing around various Whitehall policy departments. Taken together they give a sense of a general trend.
Back in December we had the welfare card proposal, so that unemployed people couldn’t spend their benefits on cigarettes and alcohol. This week: an idea that fat unemployed people should be ordered to exercise or else lose benefits.
Many people will approve of these ideas, because they would make life difficult for people on benefits. The rationale is ‘You are dependent on the state for your income, so we have a right to dictate how you spend it.’ But there is no way that the government will stop with welfare claimants. Plain packaging, minimum pricing, proposals for legal limits on sugar and fat content will affect working people too. If unemployed people should have a welfare card, why shouldn’t working people get paid in food vouchers? After all, otherwise we would just waste our salaries on Camel Lights, pizzas and red wine. And we are all dependent on the state to some extent. Even Jeremy Clarkson drives on publicly maintained roads.
Under a Tory led austerity government you would at least expect negative freedom. They won’t empower you, or help you out in hard times. You could at least expect them to leave you the fuck alone. But they won’t leave you alone. The Fabian authoritarianism that New Labour brought into public life has not been abandoned: quite the reverse.
So they cut essential services – sickness benefits, debt advice, legal representation, you know, things that people use, stuff that matters – while grasping for more and more control over what people do in their free time.
It is a kind of government by brainstorm or thought camp, where bizarre and silly ideas are implemented with seemingly no thought for the science, the economics or the practical reality of people’s lives.
Of course sometimes we need to be protected from ourselves.
But people also need the freedom to make their own mistakes.
DoH launches new public health poster campaign
Having a life outside blogging is obviously a good thing. As, no doubt, is being driven round dixieland by Madam Stroppy in a red Mustang convertible…
…but let’s hope Dave comes back one day.
RIP Hurricane, 1949 -2010
The People’s Champion found dead, alone and emaciated in his flat. He was poverty-stricken, toothless and had endured two major operations for throat cancer. But…
…(in the words given to him by actor Richard Dormer in the one-man play Hurricane)…
“Don’t pity me. I’ve stood on top of the world.”
Our leading writers make their selections from around the world:
The combination of classical learning, lavish book production and a hint of scholarly controversy makes Il papiro di Artemidoro (LED: Editizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto), edited by Claudio Gallazzi, Barbel Kramer and Salvatore Settis, one of the the most important books of the century so far. On the other hand, if you want practical guidance on piss artistry, try this:
Especially useful (and I recommend this to my colleague Mr Priest, a notorious tightwad when it comes to buying a round), is the section entitled “The Mean Sod’s Guide (incorporating The Mean Slag’s Guide)“. To give you a flavour:
“The point here is not simply to stint your guests on quality and quantity – any fool can pre-pour Moroccan red into burgundy bottles, or behave as if all knowledge of the existance of drink has been suddenly excised from his brain at 10 p.m – but to screw them while seeming, at any rate to their wives, to have done them rather well. Note the limitation: your ideal objective is a quarrel on the way home between husband and wife, he disparaging your hospitality, she saying you were very sweet and thoughtful and he is just a frustrated drunk…
“(#8): Your own drinks. These must obviously not be allowed to fall below any kind of accustomed level, however cruel the deprivations you force on your guests. You will naturally refresh yourself with periodic nips in your pantry, but going thither at all often may make undesirable shags think, even say, that you ought to be bringing thence a drink for them. So either choose between a darkly tinted glass (“an old friend of mine in Venice gave it me – apparently it’s rather valuable, ha ha ha“) and a silver cup of some sort (“actually it’s my christening-mug from TS Eliot – believe it or not, ha ha ha”) which you stick inseperably to and can undetectably fill with neat whisky…”
As for hangovers, Kingers provides the following sound advice:
“ * If your wife or other partner is beside you, and (of course) is willing, perform the sexual act as vigorously as you can. The exercise will do you good and – on the assumption that you enjoy sex – you will feel toned up emotionally, thus delivering a hit-and-run raid on your metaphysical hangover (M.H.) before you formally declare war on it.
“Warnings. (i) If you are in bed with somebody you should not be in bed with, and have in the least degree a bad conscience about this, abstain. Guilt and shame are prominent constituents of the M.H., and will certainly be sharpened by indulgence on such an occassion.
“(ii) For the same generic reason, do not take the matter into your own hands if you wake by yourself.”
Not everyone likes this book (eg John Crace), but then you can’t please ‘em all. can you? I enjoyed it (despite Amis’s disrespect for my own favourite tipple), and laughed out loud at parts. Published by Bloomsbury at £9.99.
Oh for the love of God Charlie, all it takes is a bat of the eyelids, huh? I shall never allow you a small wine spritzer ever again if you continue to misbehave in this fashion, you cad!
No, join me. I have nuns!
So what exactly is this “other stuff” that my occasional co-blogger Volty has been so “busy with” of late?
Red Ingle and his Natural Seven may have the answer (NB: you’ll probably have to play this clip through twice to get it running smoothly, but it’s well worth it, I promise):
Well, in spite of being skint, I’ve come to a decision. I’m going to pawn the family jewels and spend the proceeds on a train fare to London to have a few beers. Sorta logical decision you make on a Saturday morning.I’ll be joining an unlikely crew. They’re known to some as a group of bullying AWL hanger-on white supremacist tolerators who are not even politically active outside of blogging, and who have formed a self-selecting clique. Mind you, there is another point of view which says they’re a group of politically active socialists of various (and often opposing) political stances, who are strongly anti-racist and anti-sexist, and who become really quite welcoming if you buy them a pint. Of course certain of them happen to disagree with Andy “hard boiled” Newman, hence the Kim Il Sung style denunciations that I have conglomerated above. Salt mines for me then…All I’d say is come along (Euston Flyer, 4pm) if you’re free, meet the individuals concerned and judge for yourselves. Heck, even you should go Andy – I’m willing enough to forgive and forget…
SOCIALIST BLOGGERS MEET UP V: SANTA JIM & THE ANTI-RACISTS
We’re rounding up the Lefty Bloggers again for another piss up. This Saturday the 1st of December is the proposed date – starting at 4pm and ending God knows when at the Euston Flyer on Euston Road. It’s holiday time which means Santa Jim will be handing out the JDs and ESBs to all of the good lefty boys and girls!
There are a good deal of events taking place on Saturday – but we should be there for some time so feel free to pop along. Hopefully we can get some of the UNISON degenrates along as well.
Everyone is welcome!!!
“America is a hurricane, and the only people who do not hear the sound are those fortunate if incredibly stupid and smug white Protestants who live in the centre, in the serene eye of the big wind.”
The late Norman Mailer was a poseur, a charlatan, a misogynist, a wife-stabber, champion of a murderer, and an all round arse hole (that’s asshole to you yanks): a lot of the time he wasn’t even a particularly good writer. His real role was as a sort of sub-Hemingway boozer, womaniser and (supposed) “tough guy”.
Most of his novels were garbage, with the notable exception of his 1948 World War II masterpiece The Naked and the Dead, which George Orwell considered the best book to have come out of that war. What came afterwards were mainly let-downs. He was, however, an excellent journalist and the pioneer of the “new journalism” usually associated with Tom Wolfe. And (when he wasn’t trying to be a “tough guy”), he could be a very funny guy:
According to Vanessa Thorpe in the Observer, “Only this year, as he waited to take part in a Q&A interview to be carried by Paris Review, he told how he had encountered (Philip) Roth at a urinal during the memorial service for a mutual friend.
“The two heavyweights discussed their shared inability to control their bladders. ‘Phil, sometimes I have to go into a telephone kiosk to pee,’ Mailer commented. ‘You just can’t wait at my age.’
“‘I know’, said Roth, ‘it’s the same with me.’
“‘Well, Mailer told Roth, 74, ‘you always were precocious’.”
The Hitch, whilst fully aware of Mailer’s shortcomings, takes a rather more forgiving view:
“But all this bravado and bullshit and delinquency, including the near-fatal stabbing of one of his wives, only seemed to increase the number of people – including the stabbed wife herself – who found fresh ways of forgiving him. Even Gore Vidal, not a professional forgiver, was once gruffly affectionate about him in my hearing. A slightly schmaltzy way of phrasing this would be to say that Norman Mailer was always somehow life-affirming, and that his justly-famous cocky grin was something that even his enemies had to envy.”
Perhaps more surprisingly, Hitch thinks the 1991 Harlot’s Ghost was “his masterpiece.”