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Index: Currente Calamo

Stasi and Snitch.

Michael Blackburn: And as for those pinnacles of British university education, Oxford and Cambridge, you can forget about them. Plans are afoot to make the Oxford Classics degree easier for the girls because not enough of them are getting Firsts. We can’t have another gender gap, can we?

Fight, Fight for Europe! No Thanks.

Michael Blackburn: ‘the one clear, incontrovertible truth the Brexit business has demonstrated to us in our knuckle-dragging oikiness is the blistering ineptitude of our politicians.’

Dad: bad, mad, sad.

Michael Blackburn: ‘God help the poor blokes who end up being “helped” by those espousing these ideas. If they aren’t screwed up when they start they certainly will be by the time the shrinks have finished with them.’

The Discomfiting of a Hitchens.

By MICHAEL BLACKBURN. THE ONLY TIME I heard the late Christopher Hitchens thrown off balance in a discussion was when he was discussing Trotsky with Matthew Parris and Robert Service. Hitchens had put forward Trotsky as his choice for the “Great Lives” series on Radio 4 (2006), hosted by ex-Tory MP, Matthew Parris. Robert Service’s […]

Posh Potty-Mouths v. Plebs

By MICHAEL BLACKBURN. WITHNAIL AND I is one of my favourite films and I make sure I watch it once a year just to refresh my admiration for its impressive list of one-liners. If you don’t enjoy the film I can only grieve for you. There are two monstrous characters in the film, Withnail obviously […]

Respecting the Ancientry.

Michael Blackburn: ‘I don’t know what he or my grandmother would have thought about the EU. They died before Britain joined the Common Market as it was then called. I suspect they may have been ambivalent at best. My grandmother despised the French (“let us down in both world wars,” I recall her saying) and there was little love among most Brits of their age, and my father’s, for the Germans. They had reasons for their hatreds. ‘

Beauty, Buildings and the Cretinocracy.

Michael Blackburn: ‘At this advanced stage of the left’s heretic-hunting psychopathy we know there’s no need either to take these accusations seriously or to engage in an intellectual rebuttal of them. There’s no point arguing with cretins. I should think that Scruton is sound enough to withstand this (it’s an unpaid position, so there are no financial implications) but whether the politicians are is another question.’

The New Media become the Old Media.

Michael Blackburn: ‘We are slipping back into the old days when we were mere consumers of whatever the media put in front of us, except that as we are given less and less input of our own, those opposing us are given more. There is still hope that freedom of speech will survive the coming suppression. ‘

This is our unstable world.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Sometimes I get the feeling that there are other, deeper, more subterranean forces at work, that cannot be ascribed purely to changes wrought by technology, politics or religion. The latter may just be the excrescences of those deeper forces. Without going all Spenglerian it seems obvious there is an arc to all empires and civilisations, of birth, development, achievement and then decay.’

Our mechanical life.

Michael Blackburn: ‘It’s no wonder so many young people leave school semi-literate and semi-numerate. How can you teach literature, for example, when you have to present pupils with fragments of a book only, and are actively discouraged from getting them to read the whole book? (I have two examples of this told to me recently.) ‘

This thing of darkness.

Michael Blackburn: ‘At the moment the situation is one of atomisation and fragmentation. But, disparate as all these idiocies are, if you put them together you have the left’s New Promethean society. I was going to say the New Man, a concept so beloved by both fascist and communists in the twentieth century, but these days “man” is unacceptable…’

Teaching by provocation.

Michael Blackburn: ‘hat many students are uneasy with is literature that doesn’t fit into neat boxes: poems whose syntax is unusual or fiction that has no discernible genre or narrative, that sort of thing. Poetry remains something of an outlier so it is easier to get them into dealing with it. I make it plain that there is no money in it and no fame either, so some playful stretching of language and form is acceptable as long as you accept permanent obscurity as your fate. Luckily this often works and ups the conversion rate.’

Clean up your ocean!

Michael Blackburn: ‘Slat is a brilliant example of entrepreneurial individualism applied to the kind of problem normally “solved” by corporate, state intervention. Clearly this annoys some people, who prefer the dominant collectivist approach to every problem. When “something must be done” they automatically turn their eyes to the state. ‘

Attention countryphiles: we are not all countrymaniacs.

Michael Blackburn: ‘There are smells too, pungent ones. If you’ve lived near a chicken farm you’ll know what I mean. Late summer there’s muck-spreading, of course, which is exactly what it sounds. And sometimes you’ll drive past a field which emanates the stench of something unspeakable — just as well, since you’ll never know what it is.’

A plea for decorum.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Call me Mr Cynical but I suspect Magid’s real passion is for himself, and he doesn’t appreciate the fact that the position of Mayor is something of itself and nothing to do with his own ego. A bit more decorum would serve him better and prevent what I believe will be the reaction to his posturing when he has left the post, namely embarrassment.’