England Their England

A chance find at a second hand book stall last month of “England Their England” by A G MACDONELL l revealed where I came across one of the funniest punchline ever written.

During World War I, MACDONELL served for two years as a lieutenant of the Royal Artillery before being invalided out of the army. (as is Lieutenant Cameron, the narrator in England, Their England.) He became a journalist .and author.

Introduced as both “a classic of English humour” and “gently satirical” MACDONELL though educated at Winchester was Scottish and in the book (David) Cameron aided in pursuit of a journalistic career by a Welshman unmercifully satirises the English upper and middle classes.

Published in 1933 and of that time …The most famous chapter in the book is of a “cricket match” between journalists, up from London, and a village team in which features equally both the match and the local pub. Peopled by Journos drink and pubs proliferate.

To illustrate here’s a chapter (subbed) featuring one aspect of an Englishman’s and women’s lives, their theatre going tastes, when as a drama critic, Macdonnel principally was, On which Donald holds forth thus.

“The acknowledged fact that the English drama, as acted in London, is the lowest form of the art in the world, because the public will only go to visit trash and would religiously boycott first rate plays.

Donald’s week time fare featured adultery against a background of 1) Spiritualism, 2) in the Straights Settlements, and 3) in Mayfair with lots of epigrams and “two joll young things “

It is left to societies and groups of Intelligent Theatre Lovers to produce these first class plays on Sunday evenings. Hardly a Sunday went by without a masterpiece by Pirandello, Tchecov or John Jacques Bernard “dazzled the eyes.”

Donald on a Sunday viewed one of these masterpieces with ”an audience filtering through the stalls, broken only by the greetings of celebrities.” The piece to be given was a translation of a German masterpiece by Herr Rupert-Stilzchen the great exponent of Illuzionist Symbolism incidental choreography by Dripp

The scene throughout a gallery of a salt mine in Upper Silesia the play called the “Perpetuation of Eternity” with Donald wondering which part of the choreography played in life in Upper Silesian salt mines before a gong heralded twenty minutes of darkness. This followed by twenty minutes occupied by a soliloquy to the spirit of Polish Maternity, spoken in Italian, punctuated with applause by 100 per cent of the audience

The soliloquy ended, the lights went up to see the salt workers digging while chanting dismally as they worked. The foreman of the gallery then came forward and shot two of the workers. Whether for bad chanting or bad digging was not made clear. Cinema shots of New York was followed by ‘Negro’, in the wings singing through a megaphone with gusto “When the midnight Choo Choo leaves for Alabam.”

Acts 2, 3, 4 and the last five (of the play) “packed full of Illusionist Symbolism were of brilliance and irony. One effect being the murder by the salt workers of a preference shareholder of Cerebos Salt Ltd by throwing into a quartz crushing machine.

Dripps choreography turned out to be the dance of the mourners at the funeral of a demented house agents symbolic of the 1926 housing shortage in the Silesian towns of Kattowitiz and Breslaw.

In short the Perpetuation of Eternity was, as one of the dailies said next morning “an arresting piece of thought provoking symbolising produced since Six Characters etc. last week.”

A leader in the critic craft a Mr Brown though called it “a turgid Drip from the village Pumpernickel and enquired ( this is it!) “If this is life in Upper Silesia what can Lower be like?”

Curtain down.

Don’t take Shapps for Granted on Railway

Two jobs (an MP and running a get rich quick scheme) Grant Shapps alias Michael Green and Sebastian Fox is still making it up as he goes along claiming in a BBC TV interview that Labour was responsible for the Beeching plan that decimated t Britian’s railway network.

The facts are that the brief for Beeching, former chairman of ICI, was  provided by the Tory Prime MinisterHarold Macmillan, in 1960 thus: “First, the industry must develop modern conditions and prospects modelled to meet current needs and with the premise that the railways should be run as a profitable business.

Over 4,000 route miles axed on cost and efficiency grounds, leaving Britain with 13,721 miles (22,082 km) of railway lines in 1966.  There were no proposals to improve or repurpose the usage and efficiency of the existing network or how to maintain or dispose of redundant infrastructure


Thee sceme was carried though by Ernest Marples of Marple rIDGEWAY  construction, roAD BUILDERS Minister of Transport (1959–1964). He b oversaw significant road construction (he opened the first section of the M1 motorway) and the closure of a considerable portion of the national railway network

Initially, Harold Wilson‘s Labour government continued with the policies A further 2,000 miles (3,200 km) were lost by the end of the 1960s. In  1966, a White Paper on Transport Policy identified economic utility, rather than commercial viability, as the major objective of railway policy. This resulted in a revised railway network plan with 3,000 miles of additional track surviving Beecham’s scheme

On 16 February 1965, Beeching had announced the second stage of his reorganisation of the railways. To cut 7,500 miles of trunk railway throughout Britain. These  proposals were rejected by the then Labour government and Beeching, sacked  by Labour’s transport minister Tom Fraser, returned to the ICI.

Following a policy review in 1967, the Transport Act of 1968 made provision for major capital reconstruction on the railways and deficit relief. In 1970 Ted Heath and the Tories were back in power


Boris No story gov! Then make one up

A piece in “Informed” the NUJ’s  NEC Mag (I think) has Ian Burrel claiming that “Brexit has changed political journalism beyond recognition” as he “gauged feelings on the front line.” but hey! Makes light a subject  that should bother us. I think again.


He states that despite “all the journalistic resources thrown at Brexit, there are complaints that the news industry has left the public under-served and ill-informed as reporters cotton onto  off-record briefing strategy.” There’s perceptive.

Peter Oborne a right wing commentator quoted in the article further believes that a swathe of his peers as “stenographers” for swallowing “dodgy stories and commentary” from Number 10. These two makes the point. “ Begs the question is this good for our trade.
Well: It should be noted that the two practitioners; political journalists  and politicians are/have become two of a kind the former a welter of journalists in the ranks of politicians  (MPs, PRs and advisers)and politicians seconding as journalists by trade and or inclination across tele, radio and print.

Boris is “right in the thick of it.!” To the detriment I claim of our trade.

The piece  has in a box this: “Johnson (not as with Theresa May) is at his ease among journalists  and his “eye for a  story” has put him “on the front foot” in relations with the media since entering Downing Street. A man who, as a reporter in Brussels, thought nothing of concocting stories like an  EU “plan” to regulate on bendy fruit.

“At ease with journalists” is surely the euphemism  of the century, He had  editors downwards in his pocket willing and able to play up his merits (if any) and down plays his demerits of which there are plenty. This evident in his careers as journalist, Mayor of London, MP and Prime minister and writ large as Foreign secretary.

So in considering the condition of our trade as to Boris:  The man who “thought nothing of concocting stories” and who makes true the accusation concerning journalists “if you  haven’t got a story … make one up!”

The flowers that bloom in the spring Tra la!or maybe not?

Does Brexit not look as In the Mikado where WS Gilbert tells of Nanki-Poo who courted by Katisha. An Elderly lady? sings of.

“The flowers that bloom in the spring -Tra la
Breathe promise of merry sunshine — Tra la,
As we merrily dance and we sing -Tra la
We welcome the hope that they bring -Tra la

Of a summer of roses and wine

Of summer of roses and wine.

The flowers that bloom in the spring tra la

Having nothing to do with the case.
I’ve got to take under my wing, Tra la,
A most unattractive old thing – Tra La
With a caricature of a face

And that’s what I mean when I say, or I sing,
‘Oh, bother! the flowers that bloom in the spring.’

Tra la la la la la, Traa la la la la Traa la la la la etc.”

‘A nice cup of tea will save fish and do you good’ say *experts’

Those looking to answer for the mountains of plastic which unless, eaten by deluded fish, lie festering at the bottom of the oceans need look no further than thier noses to end one of the main ingredients amongst this morass of plastic cups.

Why it should be that where thirsts were quenched at intervals of say four hours, nowadays thirst is an ever present curse of the human condition leading to the use of million of plastic cups which has got so bad a degradable receptacle (I like that! RJ) is being sought as an alternative.

The spectre of thirst that, even if not actual, haunts not only the lowly (I like that as well) but that of the nation’s leaders, with government minsters and other dignitaries seen in life and on Telly clutching plastic cups, before straws, as they rush through swing doors for meetings where they seek to save the world. Only, apparently, the dry parts.

The thousands of rest of us on the way to work, at lunch time and going home and elsewhere grip tight to the things never it sems actually drinking any of the stuff.

Plastic cups are piled high in cafes and inside machines that occupy handy positions at shops, offices , factories and leisure centres into which every known type of liquid issues forth People are condition to drink from plastic now pubs to prams where plump ones grasp at them like a lifeline.

Thus concerned people if not the fish, look desperately for an alternative to plastic A thing tried by one organisation was by substituting paper! For obvious reasons it didn’t work!

There is an alternative to one aspect of this problem that will kill two birds with one stone (but save fish) that is to supply refreshment and improve things for those risking heart attacks in their rush to work helped by drinking on the run. By slowing down when they get there

It needs the return in working time of morning and afternoon tea breaks to factories, building sites and offices administered by Tea Boys and Tea Ladies (now Tea Persons) serving up mugs of hot steaming tea from their trollies.

*I hav’nt invented a name for them yet .. but  they will be indepent.

Dickens and his ilk where are they now

This is from Hard Times by Charles Dickens.. There were in the nineteenth century and before writers of Dickens’ ilk in books and news sheets graphically exposing society’s ills. . The likes of which there is a pathetic paucity of Today.

“Coketown in the distance was suggestive of itself, though not a brick of it could be seen.

“The wonder was, it was there at all. It had been ruined so often, that it was amazing how it had borne all the shocks. Surely there was never such a fragile china ware as of which the millers of Coke town were made. Handle them ever so lightly, and they fell to pieces with such ease that you mighit suspect them of having been flawed before.

They were ruined, when they were required to send labouring of children to shool, they were ruined, when inspectors were appointed to look into there works. they were ruined, when when such inspectors considered it doubtful whether they were quite justified in choppping people up with their machinery, they were utterley undone, when it was hinted that perhaps they need not always make so much smoke.

Another popular fiction, the  threat – made whenever a Coketowner, felt he was ill used – that is to say, not left entirely alone, and it was proposed to hold him to account for the consequenes of any of his acts – he was sure to come out with the awful menace. that he would ‘sooner’ pitch his property into the Atlantic .

This had terrified the Home Secretary within an inch of his life on several occassions. However, the Cokeowners were so patriotic after all, that they never had pitched their propoerty into the Atlantic, yet. On the contrary, they had been kind enough to take mighty good care of it.

So there it was, in the haze yonder, and it increased and mul;iplied.

Brexit .. what ever’s wrong ..Its not the fault of the old.

From the NPC’s Pensioners Parliament.

Brexit and the myth of generational warfare (By Mary Brodbin)

Dr Genna Carney, Queens University Belfast, made a powerful case to argue that older voters are not to blame for Brexit.

She said that the problem was that the media played the most important role in how the referendum was conducted. Generational warfare is now as important as class and racial divides to set us against each other.

After the referendum she looked at all English newspapers from 23 June – 23 July 2016 and many of the articles blamed pensioners – ‘It falls to millennials to fix their elders’ mistakes’ was typical. But Genna took a longer term view. It wasn’t baby boomers that broke the UK. It was Cameron born in 1966 and Boris Johnson and Farage, both born in 1964.

She saw the issues of social and economic inequality as the problem. She said what is the point of having stereotypes like ‘baby boomers’ and ‘millennials’. They don’t really tell us anything. Simply throwing everybody together is actually ignoring important things like gender, class, ethnicity and any other identity you choose.

She looked at 81 articles and found only one based on meaningful research. Nineteen stories of 81 found in 15 different papers were based on the same press release from the Resolution Foundation and led on much the same tack – “Millennials are worse off than the previous generation.”

The Resolution Foundation’s “‘Stagnation Generation” report was not based on research. Instead it was provocative, partial and ideologically driven. She stressed that we must be wary of think tanks. Today there are higher levels of inequality generally – increased levels of debt, lower levels of job security, and greater levels of competition in the job market.

The Stagnation Generation report seems to suggest that each generation should be better off than the previous generation. Why is this assumption made? Children of the Great Depression were worse off than the previous generation. In the UK in the 1980s and 1990s there were children of the previous decades’ economic crisis who were worse off than their parents. It is because of the set of circumstances into which they were born and when they came of age that they hit a perfect storm of rising indebtedness and a bottoming property market and, vitally, the Stagnation Report always leaves out the retraction of the welfare state.

All of these are the result of deregulation and neo-liberalism spearheaded by Thatcher and Reagan and taken up willingly by the likes of Blair, Cameron and latterly Theresa May. They have replaced an era that provided the welfare state, NHS and defined benefit pensions between 1945 and 1979. If you live long enough as baby boomers to see new ideas from the 1980s such as deregulated markets and globalisation cause massive surges in inequality you might be a little disillusioned with politicians and big institutions that seem to put themselves and their interests ahead of the majority of people.

Much of the insults aimed at older people should be aimed at governments that use deregulation. And if you are old enough to have seen this happen you might decide to vote leave. We should work together and call out the politicians who are playing roulette with our democractic institutions, demolishing our welfare state and allowing the large multinational companies to operate as stateless entities without any corporate responsibility.

She ended – in terms of the NPC we must take a strong stand, be assertive with the media and refuse to be blamed for exercising our rights. In particular we need to keep doing what we’re good at: writing letters to MPs, newspapers, and anyone else who will publish alternatives to the mythical concensus that Brexit is a war of generations,