The Curmudgeon


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Certain Whiff of Gove

Well, here's a thing: despite the announcement of a rah-rah new policy to start cleaning up Britain's air in as little as a quarter of a century from now, the jabbering homunculus that is Michael Gove has no real intention of improving on the prole-gassing régime of his sometime chum, the erstwhile London Haystack. Blathered about with much fanfare and more or less uncritically puffed in the headlines of Britain's leading liberal newspaper, the pledge to ban new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 turned out to be just another bit of noise in the classroom to distract from the fact that, despite having been twice dragged through the courts over the country's illegal pollution levels, the Government's silly little boys still cannot be bothered to do their homework. The jabbering homunculus has decreed that any clean-air measures coming into force before 2040 will be the sole responsibility of local authorities, with no national policy and no guidance from Westminster except, presumably, when ministers' wholly legitimate outside interests appear in peril of falling into unprofitability. If Britain is looking for a jabbering homunculus to take over the Department of the Environment purely in order to be fobbed off with responsibility for the environment, it's clear that Michael Gove is a jabbering homunculus bred from the womb of an altogether more putrid mare.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lukewarm Orange

Some intimate spiritual associates of the Cuppy-Duppy Congregation, or at least of its ten most expensive little choirbeings, have invoked a crusade against the initials RIP. The acronym for rest in peace or requiescat in pace ("may s/he rest in peace") has managed the difficult feat of exciting the ire of the Orange Order, which has instructed true believers to the effect that use of the term is un-Biblical and un-Protestant. Since a dead person is either damned forever or else at bliss in the bosom of Ian Paisley, it stands to reason that any prayer for the peace of such a person is at best a sign of spiritual confusion, and at worst a direct contradiction of the ineffable wishes of Christianity's favourite celestial torturer.

Nevertheless, in its zeal to extirpate this despicable orthographic heresy, the Orange Order displays a disturbing tepidity. No doubt much spiritual laxness has resulted from decades of proximity to the forces of worldly Papist moderation. There does not, for example, appear to be any prohibition against the decidedly un-Protestant phrase Give us this day our daily bread, which appears in the whiny catalogue of fawning and begging once recommended by a friend of the first Pope. Unless the Protestant reformation has been irredeemably tainted by Roman decadence, it surely remains an article of faith that one's daily bread should be earned, whether by the sweat of one's brow or by the casting of one's votes. Certainly it must be blasphemous to imply that the sky-daddy of Martin Luther and Arlene Foster might wish to reconsider His mysterious distribution of sustenance to those He considers deserving.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Blob Weather

You can, of course, prove anything with mathematics; and given the combination of mere experts and electronic difference engines you might even show one or two things which the jabbering homunculus Michael Gove would prefer to edit out. The Met Office has indulged itself in precisely such mischief, generating a forecast of such dreary pessimism that it might one day come to rival the Stalinist cultural sabotage whereby the whinges and whines of Wilfred Owen gained a better reputation than the healthy rah-rah of Rupert Brooke. Despite recent floods in the south-east during 2013-14, and among less significant voters during 2015-16, the Met Office forecast predicts a greater risk of further floods in the future thanks to, of all things, climate change. Since the jabbering homunculus has consistently voted against measures to mitigate the effects of climate change, the only possible explanation is that the Met Office is engaging in fashionably nihilistic left-wing distortionism; and it can only be a matter of time before the universal panacea of privatisation is applied to rectify the bias.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Oh, the Inclusivity

As we all know, because Tin-Pot Tessie and her minions have told us so often, Her Majesty's Government is committed to building an inclusive society that works for everyone except the undeserving. Being in some need of votes, and recognising that there may be a few transgender people who are not poor, idle, Muslim, foreign-born, Marxist or citizens of nowhere, the Government has extruded the Minister for Education, Equalities and Whatever to burble Cameronian nothings about consulting on the possibility of making it less difficult for people to change their sex. The Minister also announced a reduction in the period of chastity which is required of gay men before their filthy, sin-tainted blood becomes acceptable for donation and potential transfusion into normal hard-working families. It is to be hoped that such liberalising and enlightened measures will be received with the gratitude and humility which they indubitably warrant.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Doing Our Part

Britain's buccaneering achievements in public health continue to inspire great things from those sharers of our values in the head-chopping House of Saud. The ongoing rampage in Yemen, in which British arms dealers are characteristically punching above our weight on the international stage, has resulted in a record-breaking boom in the cholera industry. Since the war has rolled back the state, efficientised water supplies and trimmed the flab from local healthcare providers, Britain's good old Victorian chum has thrust itself to the forefront with a vigour unequalled even by the 2011 flux-fest in Haiti. About half the cases and a quarter of permanent cessations of employability are under the age of fifteen; which, if present trends continue, will make for an optimistic outlook in terms of reducing future threats to British jobs.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Crowded Out

Some thrusting managerial types at NHS England, who evidently share the Conservative Party's belief that healthcare should be for the financially deserving, have announced that they no longer intend issuing prescriptions for drugs which are available over the counter. Those who require such drugs will have to pay for them or else go without, thus providing yet another incentive for cancer patients on low incomes to take up their beds and work. Naturally, Britain's leading liberal newspaper has buried the story at the end of a piece about the withdrawal of homeopathic remedies from the NHS budget, which is expected to save a massive hundred thousand a year, or about one-fifth to one-tenth the cost of a white male at the BBC. Britain's leading liberal newspaper does not find it worthy of mention that the snake-oil subsidy is slightly less than the twenty-five million a year which the Health Service spends on hospital chaplains; nor does it quote any thoughts on how matters might be improved should the money now sprayed away on fertility treatments be spent on helping people who are, perish the thought, physically or mentally unwell.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Work is the Best Way Out of Public-Sector Poverty

Improvements in the job market are helping to ensure that the more deserving members of Britain's white, pink and puce working class have no immediate need to visit a food bank, except perhaps for sniggering purposes. Fifty-two former ministers have found gainful employment outside Parliament: an increase of almost sixty per cent on last year. It was, of course, obvious from the first that the late Head Boy viewed the highest public office in the land as little more than a networking opportunity; but other beneficiaries of our Mother of Democracies' intensely relaxed régime include the ludicrous Francis Maude, who has somehow found nine employers willing to take the risk that he will use their premises to store dangerous substances in jerry-cans; and Ed Davey, the former Deputy Conservative flunkey at the Department of Fracking and Fossil Fuels. In addition to eight other commissions, Davey has set up an "independent consultancy, which specialises in energy and climate change", though whether for or against would be difficult to tell from his record in office. Last and most self-lubricating is the Osbornomic miracle-worker himself, who has toddled into assorted sinecures and the editorship of the London Evening Fuck Theresa May; the last without deigning to consult the advisory committee on business appointments: a watchdog which guards against such derelictions by whimpering in its sleep and rubbing its gums together with almost incalculable ferocity.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

We Will Defend Our Island

Despite the notorious Dubs amendment, which obliged Her Majesty's Government to strain Britain's already bulging seams by taking in swarms of junior cockroaches, the Ministry for Wog Disposal has been doing a sterling job of keeping our island safe. As long as the parliamentary wing of the Farage Falange still clings to office, sixty million buccaneering Britons will never fall victim to the dozens of child refugees waiting to swamp them. The Government initially set the limit at 350, but increased it to 480 on the grounds that the Chancellor isn't the only minister who can't count. Fortunately for the safety of our mighty yet fragile Britishness, such figures are irrelevant: the Ministry for Wog Disposal has managed to get through seven months of the present year without letting in a single child, and the relevant minister will spend some of the parliamentary recess celebrating with a little trip (purely in the public interest, of course) to Greece and Italy. Only two hundred places out of the promised pittance have been filled; but besides not endangering the British Empire or the best interests of the Cuppy-Duppy administration, "the transfers must take place in line with the national laws," in the words of the Minister for Locking 'em Up and Kicking 'em Out. Whether the minister was referring to the vicious, anti-buccaneering, Euro-wog laws of Greece and Italy, for which Her Majesty's Government has hitherto shown scant enthusiasm; or to the firm but fair laws of the Recrudescent Imperium of Westminster, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, which are explicitly designed to create a hostile environment, remains as yet unclear. No doubt the minister is well aware of the advantage of promising to take child refugees: namely that if you delay long enough the child refugees eventually turn into adult deportables, often in the space of only a few years; while refugees who are already adults can hang around for decades.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Helvetica Sans

In some of the milder samples of cinematic rah-rah about the Anglo-American defeat of the Nazi menace, a number of reluctant yet plucky little fighters end up in Switzerland; and now we can see why. Although the Swiss Confederation notoriously failed to assist Winston Churchill and his American chums in winning either World War, there is much about the country that must appeal to the patriotic citizen of Most Definitely Somewhere. Switzerland has never been a member of the European Union, which very nearly redeems its ghastly neutrality in the two official wars against the Hun; and as far as the mainstream of British opinion is concerned no country can be all bad which is full of bankers and Nazi gold. As if these advantages were not enough, the Swiss citizenship test has revealed itself as a thing of beauty to rival the hypothetical mutant offspring of Tin-Pot Tessie and the strutting ex-Caudillo of the Farage Falange. The system still lags behind the British one in that naturalisation is apparently open to some marital partners regardless of income; but the fiscal deficiency is more than redeemed by objections on grounds ranging from hate crimes against cow-bells to the wearing of jogging pants without due care and attention, and being too wilfully Turkish to understand the wonders of Hornussen, Schwingen or municipal recycling systems even after a quarter-century lifetime's residence.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Between the Dead

Just for a moment, let's forget the zombies. The late George A Romero did some great things with the disciples of Anubis in two major box-office hits, an under-rated third instalment and a twenty-first-century triptych; but he also made one or two films that fall outside the walking-dead subgenre. Most of these are worth rather more than footnote status, and at least one is a masterpiece.

The masterpiece, Martin (1976), was almost certainly the first I knew of him. I saw it semi-accidentally on late-night television; I had probably heard vaguely of Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead by that time, and perhaps even seen The Crazies; but my mid-to-late teens were a pre-auteurist phase and I had no idea of the director's significance. While by no means abandoning the black comedy, social satire and genre critique of the Living Dead films, Martin attains a higher and more painful mode of horror thanks to bleak visuals, a sophisticated script and a mesmerising performance from its star, John Amplas.

Knight Riders (1981), which Romero managed to make thanks to the financial success of its immediate predecessor, Dawn of the Dead, concerns a troupe of stunt motorcycle riders trying to survive as an Arthurian tribe independent of commercial demands and middle-class values. A rivalry develops between the idealistic King Billy (Ed Harris) and the more worldly Morgan (played by Tom Savini, Romero's spurt-and-splatter effects specialist, and the director of the excellent 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake); there are obvious parallels with Romero's own need to balance his artistic agenda with commercial requirements, and the film as a whole is an appealing mix of road movie, counterculture drama and existential rumination. Like Peckinpah's Junior Bonner ("I made a film where nobody got shot, and nobody wanted to see it"), Knight Riders bled to death at the box office and Romero's next project was the resolutely commercial Stephen King comic-book portmanteau Creepshow.

Monkey Shines (1988) is slightly compromised by the producers' insistence on a hopeful epilogue, but is for the most part an effective and original experiment with the theme of the beast from within. A beta-male scientist defies his overbearing superior by carrying out an unauthorised experiment involving a quadriplegic friend and a cerebrally-enhanced spider monkey. The monkey is intended as a friend and helper, but her psychological symbiosis with the crippled young man means that she soon starts giving more help than is strictly compatible with the welfare of others. Epilogue aside, the resolution is one of Romero's most ironically ferocious, as the hero demonstrates that evolutionary ascent isn't necessarily an uplifting process.

Between the entertaining but relatively conventional Stephen King adaptation The Dark Half (1993) and the inception of the second Living Dead series, Romero's career went into suspended animation: he was able to make only Bruiser (2000), a minor work about an upsilon-male office worker who puts on a blank white mask which sharply enhances his assertiveness skills. Five years later, the Living Dead brought Romero's career back on track; but while the quality and impact of the zombie films are Romero's most obvious legacy, it would be a pity to miss the eccentric individuals that lurk among his career's shambling hordes.