The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Laws Are For Little People

Antipreneurial and backsliding persons are again cavilling and complaining about Her Majesty's Government's cosy relationship with its brothers in Britishness, the head-chopping House of Saud. As an enthusiastic backer of the Arms Trade Treaty, which is supposed to protect schools, hospitals and homes from the depredations of unscrupulous warmongers like the beastly Russians or the Heathen Chinee, Her Majesty's Government is quite naturally doing everything it can to assist the head-chopping House of Saud in their continuing rampage in Yemen, where schools, hospitals and homes are being pulverised with rah-rah firepower and token regrets. More people are in need of humanitarian aid in Yemen than anywhere else in the world, yet still the whiny do-gooders persist in talking down this gold-medal British performance.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bow Down and Be Counted

I am sure we all agree that if there's one thing this country needs more of, it's bright ideas from the likes of Michael Gove and his chums. Policy Exchange, a "centre-right" (right-wing, in Standard English) think-tank founded by Gove and his almost equally sensible chum Nick Boles, has come up with a jolly wheeze for distinguishing between real and fake Britons. David Goodhart, who wrote a book squealing about the beastly migrants and the damage they cause to the social-democratic values which are so precious to the centre-right, has extruded a report squealing that the beastly migrants are using our jewelled isles as "a sort of economic transit camp". The solution, it appears, is to give everyone a number, which would be stored in a central database managed, no doubt, by some efficient, accountable company like those nice people at Serco and G4S. Students and short-term migrant workers "would not have full access to social and political rights, would not have an automatic right to bring in dependents and would leave after a specific period of time", rather than voting in every election, claiming benefits before they're off the boat and staying here forever with all their wives and cats and mothers, as they do at the moment. David Goodhart went to Eton. You can tell, can't you.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thirteen Days By Sunset Beach

In recent years Ramsey Campbell has continued to turn out fine story collections along with a couple of excellent novellas, The Pretence and The Last Revelation of Gla'aki; but his novels have disappointed. Ghosts Know is competent but unremarkable; while Creatures of the Pool is little more than a rehash of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", disfigured by in-jokes and finally crippled by clever-clever musings on the nature of the Open Text.

Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach is a shorter, more compact book, and constitutes an encouraging return to form. Although Campbell is undoubtedly aware of previous efforts in the subgenre (notably Simon Raven's Doctors Wear Scarlet and the Lewton-Robson film Isle of the Dead) and begins the action of his novel on Lovecraft's birthday, he has refrained from intertextual shenanigans and played to his considerable strengths of evocative prose and carefully chosen detail.

The story concerns a fortnight's holiday in Greece with grandparents, children and grandchildren, and Campbell deftly portrays the characters and the petty awfulness of family dynamics without slipping into soap opera. One overbearing in-law does veer close to caricature, but no more so than many people in real life; and even in his case a few details are sketched in to humanise if not to redeem. The protagonist, Ray Thornton, is the grandfather of the party, and the first chapter combines the mundane nightmare of tourism with the mortal inconveniences of ageing. Even before the supernatural intervenes, a shadow hangs over the holiday, as Ray and his wife have received bad news which they have decided to keep secret from their relatives.

The small island where they sojourn is relatively untouched by tourism; which means that the locals' English can be at least as frustratingly ambiguous as some family members' efforts at translating Greek. As usual, Campbell gets plenty of sinister mileage from innocent child-chatter, conversations at cross purposes and such nuances of local tradition as who might be feeding on what, or vice versa. In fact, despite the hoariness of its subgenre the novel admirably sustains the ambiguity of all its supernatural portents, as becomes apparent with devastating effect during an argument late in the story between the grandparents and their sceptical offspring.

Nor does Campbell stint when it comes to out-and-out scare scenes. A nocturnal visitor steals and partly destroys a clue to the island's mystery, resulting in a chase which Ray finds turned back upon himself. Two gruesome cave explorations, one early in the book and one at the end, as well as a thoroughly creepy look around an ancient monastery, gain immense power from Campbell's depictions of the jumpy and fragmented effects of mobile-phone light and the sinister motions of water. The ending is quiet, but equally powerful after its own fashion: a delicate, poignant merging of hope with horror.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Crumbling Rock

Despite the promised glories of British independence from Europe, it seems that some whiny colonials persist in talking down our wondrous prospects. Gibraltar's chief minister has pointed out that an end to free movement of labour could result in the collapse of the Rock's economy, because of the thousands of Spanish workers who cross the border every day to claim benefits and steal the natives' jobs. The Gibraltarian government has even gone so far as to approach the fiend Sturgeon's one-party state, which also voted strongly to remain a satellite of the Brusso-Strasbourgian junta, in the hope of finding some way of sneaking around the UK's inevitable enrichment. Possibly owing to the length and resilience of the Imperial Haystack's leash, no gunboats have so far been deployed.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fundraising Without Permission

Some brothers in Britishness of the secretary of state for international trade and former Minister for Werritty at the Department of Wog-Bombing have imprisoned a man for posting on Facebook. It is illegal in the United Arab Emirates for charities to operate while not registered in the country, and the Dubai resident has been indefinitely imprisoned for the heinous crime of raising money for the beneficiaries of the recent Mission Accomplished in Afghanistan. His wife is paying for his food and drinking water, and he is being held at a police station with no segregation from other prisoners and no access to luxuries such as blankets and mattresses, which are routinely bestowed upon offenders in British prisons despite the reforming zeal of Graybeing, Gove and those entrepreneurial people at G4S. A spokesbeing for the Ministry for Wogs, Frogs and Huns said that something or other was being done about the situation, even though the victim holds dual citizenship and was an immigrant before he became an expat. Possibly the Imperial Haystack has threatened to build a few more cable-cars unless the matter is expedited.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

By Their Fruits

A Christian gay-baiter who preaches that natural disasters are God's punishment for homosexuality has received his reward from the Almighty. A deluge of "near Biblical proportions" has swept away the Louisiana home of Tony Perkins; which home, given that the Biblical flood drowned everything in the world except for a single human family and a boatful of livestock, must have been quite the humble hovel. Besides favouring the world with his meteorological expertise Preacher Perkins, as president of the amusingly-named Family Research Council, has proclaimed that paedophilia is "a homosexual problem" and that homosexuality is a condition similar to drug addiction. Preacher Perkins and his family escaped the flood in a canoe and are now living off "God's provisions": locusts and wild honey à la Ronald Macdonald, one assumes. The condition of Preacher Perkins' closet remains as yet undisclosed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Finger of Dictatorship

In a vivid demonstration of why we're better off out, the German vice-chancellor has shown his contempt for universal British values by making an uncivil gesture at some people with legitimate and understandable concerns about immigration. Wearing patriotic face masks quite different to the burqa in both legitimacy and comprehensibility, the men expressed various legitimate and understandable concerns of a national and social nature. The vice-chancellor, who was intolerant enough to break off relations with his father over political differences, refused to debate with the gentlemen unless they showed their faces; which was clearly an intolerable infringement of their religious liberties. On the whole, the incident was a most timely and salutary reminder of the illiberal authoritarianism to which so many Euro-wogs, despite decades of moderating British influence, are even now all too susceptible.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Well-Oiled Workforce

She gave me the sack, by my soul
(Or else by what fills up the hole)!
A vile thing to do!
That nasty old moo -
How dare she treat me like a prole!

I did all I could, by my vow,
Hard rightward to steer the state's prow;
I hardly deserve
To sit here and serve
My bloody constituents now!

But hold! I'm a Bully, by gosh!
I'm smug and sebaceous and posh!
If life be unfair,
I'll just do a Blair
And waggle my dewlap for dosh!

Gideon Fatwick

Monday, August 15, 2016

Not Just Standing By

Another hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières has been bombed in the Middle East. Fortunately for the moral character of those concerned, the bombing did not take place in Syria, where the west must not stand aside, and was not carried out by the beastly Russians in a renewed effort to subdue our plucky little jihadis. Instead, the bombing and its associated human resource detrimentations had the good fortune to take place in Yemen, where the moderate Muslims of the head-chopping House of Saud are engaged in their own version of democratisation à la Reverend Tony. The fact that the House of Saud is at the head of a coalition (nothing so shabby as Putin's nasty little relationship with Bashar al-Assad), and is also a favoured customer of some plucky little British arms dealers, adds yet further lustre to the peace-enhancing pragmaticism of the enterprise.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

If You Can't Save It, Sell It

At last something positive is being done about the state of the Arctic. The difficulties caused by melting ice, habitat loss and likely international squabbles about ownership are all tediously well-known by now; but a holiday company called Crystal Cruises is nevertheless taking a healthy entrepreneurial approach and exploiting the region for the amusement of wealthy idiots. The cruise liner Crystal Serenity will transport a thousand tourists from Alaska to New York via the Northwest Passage, offering a casino, six restaurants and a cinema for when boredom sets in with snowy scenery and guided tours of an exotic ecosystem, or whatever is left of it. For the benefit of any Republicans aboard, the company's website makes clear that the Arctic is not the same as the Mediterranean and is also subtly different from the Caribbean; it is to be hoped that such educative measures will offset the damage done by further human intrusion into the wilderness, at least until Crystal Cruises have accumulated a suitable profit.