It was very sad news that my old friend Ian Posgate died last week.
Personally, I am not very good at being told what to do by people I regard as less clever than me; such instructions tend to bring out the anarchist in me. As soon as I met Ian, it became apparent that I was a mere amateur in this regard: Ian had elevated this sort of insubordination into an art form. And since Ian was markedly clever, he had plenty of grist for his mill. It brought him considerable success, and also some hurdles.
I first came across him some 30 years ago, after his first marriage had collapsed. He took up with my lovely friend Sally, who lived in the flat above me in Notting Hill. Ian would cheerfully wander down to the local newsagent on a Sunday morning in pyjamas and dressing gown, delightfully oblivious to more conventional social mores. Not only was he great fun, but he had very wide interests, and we became friends. Happily, he and Sally soon got married.
It was only after I got to know him that I discovered that he was really quite famous: dubbed “Goldfinger” by the press as by far the most successful underwriter at Lloyds. His success was built in part, I think, on his whole approach to life. He would make snap judgements about everything from politics to art, business, and people and those initial judgements were usually pretty accurate. And he would act on them. But he was never tied down to those judgements: if his ever-sensitive nose smelled anything on the wind of change, he would promptly make the appropriate adjustments. That being his method, he was ever keen to share intelligence with people from Continue reading
Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot in Devon, has been disciplined for saying, in the context of a discussion about Brexit:
Now I’m sure there will be many people who’ll challenge that, but my response and my request is look at the detail, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Now we get to the real nigger in the woodpile, which is, in two years what happens if there is no deal?
Well, the American expression “nigger in the woodpile” (meaning an important issue that is being overlooked) is somewhat antique, and probably best avoided in public speech. But it is really less offensive than many other epithets that are regularly thrown around, like imperialist pig, pakeha, bog-trotter, breeder, red-neck and Continue reading
Sadiq Khan has condemned the London Bridge attack as ‘deliberate and cowardly’.
Well, it was plainly deliberate. But cowardly? I do not think so. The perpetrators must surely have known that there was a very real risk that they would be killed. And they were. Cruel? Yes. Irrational? Yes. Deplorable? Yes. Cowardly? No. So Mr Khan is only 50% right.
Sadiq Khan is not the only one who has been talking pious nonsense about this. Several statements have been made to the effect that these terrorists are out of line with Islam. Well, actually, they are Continue reading
This weekend’s Times Crossword was unusually easy.
Except 1 down. What has “recap” got to do with playing-fields? I cannot see it, for the life of me. It fits. But it is right?
Anyway, if you send it in before Wednesday night, you might find out. Or even win £20. But only if you live in Great Britain.
Which Continue reading
So. Enda Kelly has stepped down from the top job in Ireland.
Enda is a curious name. Like Elimy, Calima, Enealor etc, it does look like a typo. Continue reading
The world establishment is going apoplectic about Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Accord. Even normally-moderate news channels are broadcasting lectures instead of reporting news, scarcely able to contain their rage. It is as though a country in the Arab Middle East said it did not believe in Islam any more.
There are other views, of course.
Trump is not an ideal POTUS, but it would take a genius to be wrong about absolutely everything. And anyway, it Continue reading
Explicit content warning
I have a sort of love-hate relationship with the remote control for my Quad 77 audio system. I will come back to that in a moment, but first of all, a word about hi-fi generally.
A while ago, I was walking my dog in the park, and chatting to someone who, until recently, was in the hi-fi business. He said that the business is now very largely dead, for two reasons.
First, pretty much everyone who wants a hi-fi system has already got one, and what is available on the market now is really no better than what they have already got. I challenged him about this: surely the quality of sound that one gets from the new generation of tiny speakers is pretty amazing, and he agreed that there had been significant improvements at the bottom of the market. But in terms of the best that is available, technology has really not moved on for 20 years or so.
Secondly, he remarked, young people are not interested in hi-fi. They have been brought up on lo-fi MP3 music and often feel rather uncomfortable with hi-fi. And what they stream from the internet is very lo-fi.
Now, if you are reading this, and you are a hi-fi nut, please do not reply to this saying that Continue reading
Happily, Sweden has just dropped its nonsensical rape charges against Julian Assange. JA should now be able to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
The Metropolitan Police say:
Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime. Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence. The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.
So, he still has to answer for jumping bail. But no more risk now, it seems, of being sent to Sweden, which has a terrible record of “extraordinary rendition” to the USA. Hopefully, there will be a decent street party for him when he comes out.
The end of a disgraceful chapter in Sweden’s history.
There will be no party, presumably, for his one-night stand Anna Continue reading
Donald Trump is obviously not entirely unintelligent. By the same token, not even his biggest fan could deny that he frequently says things that are, to put it kindly, maladroit.
But here is the thing. Every time he says something that makes us think, “Hey, that’s not right”, his political opponents come along and say something even worse. This week, for example, he said, “No politician in history, and I say this with great serious, has been treated worse or more unfairly”
It was a remark which demonstrates an extraordinarily distorted view of himself. And it prompted this picture on Facebook, showing Nelson Mandela behind bars, looking sad (as he would be) but with a wistful and tolerant half-smile. The implication, of course, is that Nelson Mandela was a politician who had been treated worse or more unfairly, and that it was really dumb of Donald Trump to forget it.
But Mandela was not sent to prison as a politician. He was sent to prison as a terrorist. We will probably never know quite how many people Mandela killed, either directly or indirectly. Some reports put it at about 200 deaths, and many others injured. Like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness (also mass murderers), he is one of these people for whom the past has, in some sense, been erased by their subsequent efforts towards peaceful resolution of broader conflicts. The families of all their victims are required to relinquish their anguish. And there is some sense in that, for Continue reading
It is Eurovision Song Contest time.
Now, how the hell would I know that? You might ask, since I live on the far side of the world.
The answer is digital radio, and in particular SBS4. Normally, this excellent digital radio station quite simply streams the BBC World Service. I listen to it often, both at home, and in the car (which, rather surprisingly, has a digital radio facility). Except this month. During May, the SBS4 stream to BBC World Service has been cut off, and instead replaced by endless Eurovision pap.
It is no surprise that Australia loves the Eurovision Song contest. After all, this is the land of Continue reading