Category Archives: Culture

Vale Posgate

Posgate 14It 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

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The Real Nigger in the Woodpile

The_Nigger_in_the_WoodpileAnne 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

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Mr 50%

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

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Recap

CrosswordThis 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

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Enda Term

EndaSo. 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

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Remotely Interested

Explicit content warning[1]

Quad 77I 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.[2]

Now, if you are reading this, and you are a hi-fi nut, please do not reply to this saying that Continue reading

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Eurotrash

portugalIt 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

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Warming Old Scottish Tales

stonesThere has been some interesting archaeology coming out of Orkney, and particularly the Ness of Brodgar, recently. And some evidence that Orkney might have been at the cultural centre of Britain a few thousand years ago. Developing the technology that led to Stonehenge.

But why? It’s frigging freezing there!

But here’s the thing. In those days it was quite a bit warmer. Much warmer than today. So quite pleasant.  Despite what the bat-shit crazy neo-religious scare mongers are trying to tell you, the ice core data from Greenland (quite a good proxy for the Orkneys) tell us that the Medieval Warm period (when mankind flourished) was warmer today. And the Roman period (when mankind flourished) was even warmer than that. And the Minoan period Continue reading

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Whisky and Whine

Hugging_Face_Emoji_2028ce8b-c213-4d45-94aa-21e1a0842b4d_largeAccording to the United Nations, Norway is the happiest country in the world, edging out previous winner Denmark and third placed Iceland. The UK was 19th happiest out of 155 countries. Not bad. Of places with decent weather, Australia led the way at 9th.

But here is the thing. The top three all have quite high suicide rates.[1] Much higher than the UK. Which stands to reason, in a macabre sort of a way: if the most miserable people in any population commit suicide in substantial numbers, then those who are left will be, on average, less miserable. Continue reading

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A Rare Petition

575238_222880941184528_1973088916_nI am not big into petitions. But the recent By-Law designed to stop dogs running freely on local beaches really does get my goat.

So, if you can be troubled, and if you agree that dogs (including Perdita, of course) should be allowed to run freely on the beach, I really would be grateful if you would add your name.

You can read more and sign the petition here: Continue reading

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