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Index: Currente Calamo

Gangsters and Politicians.

Michael Blackburn: ‘But as to thugs and gangsters, what about Italy? They have the real Mafia, don’t they? Yes, they do, but I always had the impression that the Italian establishment made serious efforts to do something about them, often at great personal cost. With the French I felt that the establishment had everything so completely wrapped up there was no point in going against them. Just join ’em or do your own thing anyway because they’re not going to try very hard to stop you.’

Ugo and the waves.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The truth is that tradition does not guarantee quality. It may show better brushwork or technical skill but often it’s just as tedious as the modern stuff. I remember when I visited Chatsworth House many years ago and being struck by how dull and tasteless so much of its contents were. And we know that a large amount of such work was really soft porn for the rich; all those naked breasts and buttocks.’

Holiday? What holiday?

Michael Blackburn: ‘The scribblers in the weekend supplements have been making things worse by featuring the area in their staycation articles, swooning over beach huts and Holkham sands. This has gone stratospheric since the covid panic put Chamonix and Klosters out of bounds. My wife also thinks the settling of the Cambridges a decade ago in Anmer Hall near Kings Lynn sparked the whole thing off.’

What’s my number?

Michael Blackburn: ‘This is a way for them to feel important, and that they enjoy the power for its own sake. It’s a way of avoiding the difficult job of making decisions in the real world by erecting a mere spectacle of activity as a substitute.’

Welcome to the New World Order.

Michael Blackburn; ‘For those of us who grew up in the Cold War period this is familiar stuff and it is salutary to be reminded of it since we have since slid like giggling children down an icy slope into a form of soft totalitarianism.’

Bowie, without the jackboot.

Michael Blackburn: ‘No one used rock or pop concerts as a means to generate a fascist movement, for all the immersive nature of the experience. Quite the opposite. From the late sixties onward, with the emergence of the anti-Vietnam war, flower power, drippy hippy, peace and love ethos, popular music was swept ever onward into liberalism.’

Arts Moratorium.

Michael Blackburn: ‘So many films are old favourites re-hashed, crammed with noisy action sequences, “enhanced” by CGI, stuffed with ridiculously masculinised women and feminised men, replete with blatant propaganda about racism and homophobia. So many television programmes employ a similar template.’

Bugs for Bugmen

Michael Blackburn: ‘Allied to the campaign to turn us into witless consumers of processed laboratory garbage is this new drive to humiliate us by getting us to eat dried grasshoppers and ground-up larvae as a part of our diet. Proponents always say such things have been regularly eaten in various parts of Africa and Asia for hundreds of years, but to be frank, I don’t consider that a recommendation.’

Flower power, unloaded.

Michael Blackburn: ‘As many are finding out, politics of this kind poisons everything it touches. When we tend our dwarf mulberry tree or Japanese Maple we don’t give a damn about whether they were the imports of colonialism or a result of an acquisitive British sense of superiority.’

Rustic rumblings.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Somehow we survived the cold water, the stink of paraffin lamps and their limited light, the uselessness of a small fire, the cold nights spent on bare floors, and the basic diet (supplemented by beer and sandwiches). We even survived the ancient sanitary arrangements. There was no indoor toilet. The privy lay a few yards away across the yard. It consisted of a hole in a plank.’

Covidianism, the new religion.

Michael Blackbirn: ‘The wearing of the mask is a ritual: you can see people as they approach the sacred portals of the supermarket or workplace, taking their muzzles in hand and slipping them on.’

Tuning in the twenty-first century.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Most of what is presented to the public is visual tranquilliser laced with propaganda.’

Paradise for Parasites.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Because lessons in the slave trade and imperial predation are exactly what the public have been demanding for years. They’ve been clamouring to be told how dreadful their ancestors were and how ashamed they should be…’

Coronavirus response: not a conspiracy, more a syndicate.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Disparate these elites may be, but there is immense overlap and interconnection between them. They’re more like a syndicate than a unified company or cabal.’

The complete shambles.

Michael Blackburn: ‘We dealt with The Taming of the Shrew, which we despatched with alacrity. Not much better than Two Gents, in my view.’