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Index: Currente Calamo

Wee Eck and jam for Scotland tomorrow.

IF, AS THE old adage goes, we get the government we deserve, some serious questions need to be answered. What in God’s name did we do to deserve Blair and Brown, for instance? And then Cameron and Clegg?

I could say the same for Scotland, currently practising for nationhood under the tutelage of Salmond and Sturgeon (they all sound like parochial solicitors from a Dickens novel, don’t they?). What on earth have the Scots done to deserve the possibility of ending [...]

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Europhile eaten by shark.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Clegg ‘kept going on about Farage being “dangerous” and delusional. Dangerous to an unattended pint, yes, and to a packet of Rothmans, but hardly to the welfare of Britain. Sharky Farage, he repeated, wanted to take us back not to the 1950s, that favourite era for progressive contempt, but the nineteenth. Precisely the time when Britain was at its economic and industrial zenith. When, presumably, it wasn’t part of any European project, because it stood alone and “isolated”.’

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The mad English garden.

Michael Blackburn: ‘A simple front garden on one of the main streets was mad in a typically English way: with lumps of rock and small areas of gravel, planted with bright flowers, including daffodils both real and plastic, heather and lavender in pots and in clumps; populated with grey concrete bird baths, rabbits and fauns, the occasional gnome, geese and what looked like a heron. It wasn’t a big garden; it was quite modest, but it was large enough for the eccentricity of the owner to display itself. It would have been easy not to notice its singularity as you walked past on your way to the Post Office shop or the pub.’

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Bridges of cant.

Michael Blackburn: ‘New times, old answers. And there’s the rub, for not only are we left with the same old bureaucratic leviathan but we must also rely on “the party”, suitably undefined and as “liquid” as this new democracy, to act as “The Bridge” between us and them, between the vertical and horizontal.’

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The Gospel of The Floods.

Michael Blackburn: Thus it was always and thus it shall remain, that the hypocrites rise to the top of the waters and float away like excrement from flooded middens.

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The artichoke/think tank axis.

Michael Blackburn: In order to homogenise and equalitise everything, then, the middle classes should be discriminated against, have their social mobility clipped and, if they do not or cannot afford to cough up the cash, endure sending their children to mediocre state schools. All while continuing to pay through their taxes for the education of the children of those who are insufficiently middle class to have any choice.

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There must be a heaven for Edward Thomas.

Michael Blackburn: ‘ I think Edward Thomas deserves a heaven not just for his marvellous poems but also as an eternal break from his torment. I imagine him able to relax there now, still afflicted with the indecisiveness his friends knew so well and which Frost made fun of in his poem “The Road Not Taken”. I can see him wandering the great gardens of heaven, wondering what lies in the shadows beyond the asphodels and amaranths where the blackbirds are singing, continually surprised at finding himself in a land that bears a powerful resemblance to England (but without the gamekeepers) and still amusing his walking companion, who must assuredly be Robert Frost again, by dithering over which path to take in the yellow wood.’

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More jaw-jaw on the great war-war.

Michael Blackburn: ‘According to [Hunt's] brilliant Cambridge-educated brain, German militarism may have caused the war, but that’s no reason to blame the Germans. Or militarism. Or something.’

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Borgen, porn, and money panic.

Michael Blackburn:’ There is something about this concatenation of increased immigration, welfare cuts and an expanding porn industry that amuses me. I don’t think Birgitte would be amused, but no doubt she’d find a way of abolishing all immigration controls and doubling the welfare budget at the same time, all without creating a single new sex worker.’

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Hard work and no profit.

Michael Blackburn: Selling books is hard; selling literary books is hellish. Selling poetry is like voluntarily putting yourself on a treadmill. Applying to arts boards for grants requires guts of steel and the tenacity of extreme obsessive-compulsiveness fuelled with amphetamines. If you aren’t already mentally deranged when you start, you will be by the time you finish.

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Caracas down the khazi.

Michael Blackburn: I wonder if Ed Miliband is paying any attention to the chaos being produced in Venezuela by policies similar to the ones he’s advocating for fuel prices and other things here? Silly question. If there’s one thing progressives around the world are dedicated to it’s repeating the mistakes of the past.

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Clowns against the stagnant quotidian.

Micahel Blackburn; ‘What a pathetic situation we are in, though, governed by clowns and now encouraged by another clown to tear everything up so the world can have yet another bash at the utopian socialist nightmare (accompanied this time with tree-hugging). What Brand and his ilk have missed, as Nick Cohen has pointed out, is that if there is a revolution it’s not going to be theirs; it’s going to come from the right.’

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Liberty’s forgotten hero: Herbert Spencer.

Michael Blackburn: ‘It’s a pity that Spencer, who was by the end of the nineteenth century one of the most famous and successful of Victorian thinkers, should have been forgotten so quickly. It may be that his political message proved out of favour with the increasingly left wing tenor of intellectual life (despite being an agnostic and an anti-imperialist). His central message of individual liberty, individual responsibility, the need for a small state and advocacy of non-belligerent, laissez-faire capitalism is even more relevant today than 150 years ago.’

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Ed’s dead dad drama.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Saying someone’s dad hated Britain is hardly a top grade insult. It’s not even a playground level jibe. I’ve no reason to doubt that Ralph Miliband was a good dad and even a rather nice chap but even if he didn’t actually hate Britain, his politics and those of his comrades and sons are inimical to Britain’s interests.’

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Another pregnant panda watch.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The females are not very good good at getting pregnant when they do indulge in the sex thing. That’s not a great survival mechanism. They don’t socialise, either, which hardly increases the chances of chatting up a prospective partner, even if it is just for a quickie. And the male doesn’t hang around once the evil deed is done. Presumably he reckons the equivalent of the panda welfare state can take care of his offspring while he blunders about in the bamboo. On his own.’

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