I, Myself and Mummy (II)



And I wonder
Why why why why why …

Oddly — such is the nature of serendipity and the perverse Muses — last week’s ramblings on mummified monstrosities were stimulated by a young couple in my local supermarket, trying to herd their boisterous and inquisitive offspring round the store without him spreading the contents of the lower shelves around the aisles.

They were doing a reasonable job, so my amusement never tipped over into annoyance, or even homicide. But what struck me most was a phenomenon that has long intrigued me, as someone who has never been permitted to breed (for no doubt sound reasons): why do parents refer to themselves in the third person when addressing their offspring? It seems almost instinctive; either that or it’s learnt from hearing it done all the time. But why?

Now, were I to reproduce (we’re back in the realms of horror stories, aren’t we?), I would be torn between having my sprogs address me simply by my name, or the more tempting and archaic system of having them call me ‘Guv’nor’. In response to the latter, I would of course address a son as ‘Sir and a daughter as ‘Madam’ (I’m too woke to call her ‘Miss’ or ‘Young Lady’, obviously). But whichever I chose, I like to think I would refer to myself when speaking to them as ‘I’ or ‘me’, depending on case — I would obviously never ever say something like ‘your mother and me are going out; apply yourself to your studies until our return, Sir’.

It baffles me, is all. Just saying.

I, Myself and Mummy (I)


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And I wonder
Why why why why why …

I’ve been reading The Mummy by Jane Loudon recently. Over the Festering Season, I was watching various programmes about ancient Egyptians, interspersed with Mummy horrorshows, and it occurred to me, we all know Bram Stoker wrote Dracula and Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, but whence that other Hammer and Hollywood staple of the well-wrapped and reanimated Nilotic nemesis?

Turns out it was, like Mary S, a young lass who decided to follow said author’s lead and, not many years later in 1824, write a Gothic tale of her own. Unlike her mentor, she set her story in the distant future — in fact in the still distant 2126. Her ideas for ‘future’ transport and communications (balloons and some weird telegraph system that uses a sort of semaphore) provide a good laugh and prove the old adage that nothing dates faster then the future. Some of her ideas are, so they say, interesting from a feminist perspective, though even they look terribly dated from a current viewpoint. Most of all, her writing is, imao, dreadful. Shelley writes pretty well for lass of a 18, whereas Miss Webb (the future Mrs Loudon, and there’s a blow for feminism straight away), writes much as one might expect from a precocious but not especially talented schoolgirl.

Anyhoo, I also note that Mr Stoker did write, some 70 years later,  a mummy story, The Jewel of Seven Stars.

Stoker’s tale brings in more of the later themes of possessed mummies, even mummified cats, and a modern day heroine, who has an uncanny connection to the original model. In contrast, Miss Webb’s tale concerns a modern, Frankensteinish experiment, to reanimate a mummified body. Of course, if doing this, one should start at the top, so they chose to bring back old big-pyramid Cheops himself, who is as baffled by suddenly being sentient in the Twenty-Second Century as his victims are terrified.

I haven’t read that one yet. It’s not highly rated. But I’m sure it’s on project Gutenberg, just waiting to be reanimated and to join Cheops in my trusty e-reader.

[In keeping with my January resolution to keep things brief, the other thing with this title will be next week]

Never a Month Goes By


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Bloody Hell, what is it with all these themed months?! First we were expected to write a novel in November (NaNoWriMo), then stop drinking for Dry January. Now it’s expanded until it seems the whole year is full of sponsorable or self-improvementing schemes, with contrived month names.

We can begin the year in Veganuary by giving up animal products for 31 days (fuck me, either give them up for good or, preferably, just don’t!), then probably find something every month, until in ‘Gosober’ we give up the booze again (no way — that’s my birth month!). In ‘Movember’, those of us can do so are enjoined to grow hairy lips for cancer charities, and we end with ‘Dismember’, when the rest of us can hack to pieces all the smug bastards who annoyed us with their abstentions and martyrdoms for the preceding year.

(OK, I made that one up; if it catches on, don’t victim-blame me — except in Blamepril of course).

It’s all a spin off from gig culture and marketing, I guess. A catchy name, a theme, a focus, for folks without the attention span to do anything for a whole lifetime.

So I was thinking of designating the coming month NoBlogEnero (using the Spanish name) and announce a temporary cessation of hostilities.

But sod that. As I really should crack on with Knights in the Gardens of Spayne, I shall just call it MiniBlogEnero and try to confine myself to a few hundred words a week, possibly on topical things. And, like the vegans hope will happen to their victims, maybe I shall continue trying to find wit in brevity thereafter. You can but hope.

For starters:—

Lovely to see all the pedants out again saying it’s not the start of a new decade until Jan 1 2021. Even bouffanted philosopher ACGrayling weighed in on twitter with the question of when the first millennium started and ended, as ‘there wasn’t a year zero’.

As a mathematician (of sorts) I agree with the statements. I agreed back in 1999, when some were saying they were refusing to attend any minnellium celebrations on that basis. But, as this was in the days before I developed Dusty Springfield Syndrome (Going to the movies only makes me sad / Parties make me feel as bad), I said I was going to celebrate on the correct date indeed, but I wasn’t going to miss the parties in 2000 either, especially if booze was flowing. Make pedantry work for you not against, you miserable bastards!

[As it is, my partner dumped me over Yuletide, so ’twas in sad mood I stood atop Parliament Hill to witness the disappointing fireworks along the Thames and snog two Australian lassies who were high on MDMA — drugs are a necessary precondition for kissing me, I’m afraid]

But, as I tweeted on the Grayling thread, words mean what folks uses ’em to mean, as they did for Humpty Dumpty. ‘Billions’ were demoted to the US version, edging out the lovely old word for ten thousand, milliard. Now ‘decade’ means a bunch of years beginning with the same three digits — the Roaring Twenties, the Swinging Sixties, the Naughties, the Bloody Tense Tensies, so it seems silly to be pedantic, except in mathematical discussions.

One guy supported ACG by saying that the first decade started the day after One BCE, ie Son-of Manuary the First, One AD and ended at the end of Ten CE. A Christian tweeter then said, no, it was from the day after 1BC to 10 AD. I pointed out (I cannot be outpedanted) that both were wrong, as those dates weren’t applied until many years later, and the poor fools, yea, even the Magi and shepherds, missed out on the first Hogmanay, through lack of prescience.

I don’t really give a monkey’s what you call it. Happy New Year to all my reader!



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OK, I don’t do Christmas, it’s a lonely time without the one what I loves and I prefer being alone and just concentrating on surviving and avoiding being one of those suicide statistics — when I go, I want to be the only one on that day!  But in the last few years I have at least ventured out from under the duvet, and allowed my innate hedonism some sway. Cracking open bottles of the serious Bordeaux that Rucyrucyrucyrucy and I bought in bond back in the day and roasting a small game bird (as opposed to a small, game bird, fnaar, fnaar) has become a sort of tradition.

As, for some reason, was a trip from here to Corstorphine Hill, to sit on the seat made famous by RLS in Kidnapped, and mope about the lost love with whom I used to love sitting there.

We came the by-way over the hill of Corstorphine; and when we got near to the place called Rest-and-be-Thankful, and looked down on Corstorphine bogs and over to the city and the castle on the hill, we both stopped, for we both knew without a word said that we had come to where our ways parted.

This trip was done on the rusty Dawes Galaxy, but due to bad weather in 2017 and bad arthritis in the knees last year, not only was this the first time I’ve tried it in three years, it’s the first time in the saddle for about two. At least much of its three mile length is along the Roseburn Cycle Path, the old rail route, smooth and level and easy cycling. All it lacks are handy defibrillators at regular intervals, for at 67 and recovering from a gout attack, I sure ain’t as fit as I (never actually) was.

But I got the tyres fully pumped and myself slightly less so and hit the road at 1330 hours. I took a few snaps along the way …









first sit and rest, on the bridge over Corstorphine Rd

the Roseburn Path

up on Ravelston Dykes

the final climb begins

the Forth (Estuary) from the Ninth (hole at Murrayfield Golf Course)

somewhere to tether the steed before the final climb to …

Rest and Be Thankful

… which I duly did and was

By ‘eck, were I knackered when I gorrome?! So it was a while before I got it together to make a pear and walnut stuffing (a pear tree in a partridge, geddit?), bone the partridge (they can’t touch you for it) and prepare the lime-pickle-roasties, sprouts, bread sauce — and decant the claret. But it were dead yummy, I can tell thee.

So, yeah, happy whatever to any readers and all humanity, however you voted, whatever your political or religious beliefs or tastes in life, love and music and all that shit. See you next year.

It’s NOTA My Party (and I’ll cry if I want to)



It’s a kind of esprit d’escalier on a grand scale, but it was only on the day after that farce of an election that one answer occurred to your gouty correspondent.

To say ‘farce’ is to be critical on many levels, not to cry foul or blame just one leader or one Brexit for that matter. Though to hold a general election, during the struggles over one generation-defining, all-party-splitting issue is grossly irresponsible or fiendishly smart, depending which side you’re on.

While the losers wring hands and cast about for whomever else they can blame, some of us see a complex nexus of failures by the liberals, left and right, pounced on gleefully by the press and master-manipulators of the alt-right and profiteers.

As Yeats said, the best lack all focus, while the Tories are psychopathic, lying bastards!

The duping of the electorate, the deprecating of the (frankly poor) opposition leaders, the exploitation, so similar to the last presidential race in the US of two amazingly unpopular candidates. It is, on a large scale, a reflection of the ability of the psychopath to understand while not empathising, to manipulate without remorse, while the genuine friend is discarded and deprecated by the victim. The left seemed to have lost touch with the people who used to vote for it (and those people were constantly told this), despite genuinely wanting a better life for all, while the right could play the understanding saviour while feeling little more than contempt for the oiks whose votes (for now) they need.

And what’s the current response of the good guys? Complain about the cheating, suggest tactical voting, impeach the guy, march in the streets and sign endless fucking petitions! Great. We have two sets of leaders whose policies can be shown to be potential disasters for most of the population of their countries, countries which languish well down the league tables of social mobility, wage disparity, poverty, child poverty, happiness and so on. Keep telling us ordinary folks this, rather than alienating us still further by what can be made to seem like spiteful, sore-loser, whining tactics.. What happened to campaigning and persuasion?

Yeah, no doubt many Labour canvassers tried to do that, but hit a brick wall of Corbyn-hatred, but then perhaps no one found the right techniques. Smugly telling the folks on the doorstep that you have the right policies and that the institutions they so rely on are under threat doesn’t seem to work. I used to call this the Benn Fallacy: the belief that everyone will become a socialist if you only explain it to them patiently.

And the more recent, more dangerous meme is the claim that there’s no point arguing with these morons. ‘Most people are just too stupid’. ‘Studies prove that facts won’t change people’s beliefs’. What seems oddest about that is that the same defeatist voices that bleat these things are also very keen to defend the idea of a ‘fairer’ democracy (ie, see many previous blog entries, the one that might give them the result they prefer). You can’t have it both ways. If people are generally too dumb to be trusted to make reasoned decisions, surely democracy is bollocks.

Current experience shows that it’s how things are presented that affects people most. Facts won’t do the job alone, but need to be presented in the right way. And that way is certainly not arrogant leftsplaining.

But that’s not what this post is about [so why waste all that effort on it at 2 in the morning?! Ed]

A hundred years ago, I think I first read or heard somewhere that in Australia voting is compulsory. I’ve referred to this before, saying that, paradoxically, I wouldn’t mind that. And even though one could simply spoil ones paper, at the time it was also claimed that the Aussie voting paper had a None of the above box. Since then I’ve heard (perhaps true, perhaps not) that not all states provide that box, and also that even compulsion still fails to provide a 100% turnout, some paying the (not too steep) fine and others never being chased up, like folks who don’t pay their TV licence fee here.

Now there is also the (unfashionable) idea that folks who can’t make up their minds or be arsed to go out and vote (about 30% of the electorate here) shouldn’t really be encouraged to do so. A guy at my Uni in 73 ran for president under the name of Aaron Aardvark III, on the basis that the undecided will usually tick the first box. I don’t need a race to the top of the alphabet helping decide which particular bastards are put in charge of my life, ta.

And this time, with the slew of unpopular folks vying for top job, it might have been a good idea, had the voters known they could have expressed their disdain by putting their cross in a box designed to say A plague on both (or all) your houses. I know returning officers do give the number of spoilt papers, but only some distinguish between unclear, blank and abusive message types of spoilage.

But only on Friday did the light bulb come on.

Why not found the NOTA (None of The Above) Party? For only £500 in any constituency, one can have a box on the paper which folks can use to say (though not say exactly why) they don’t want any of these bozos, thank you very much. I want no government at all, others might want a government, but not one chosen from this shower of shite (depending on constituency).

It would be intriguing to see how many responded. Currently spoiled papers run to tens, but if people knew their dissatisfaction would register in some way, would even some of the absentees drag themselves to the nearest polling station?

Now, we wouldn’t be expecting to take any seats, but even a few hundred NOTA votas in a constituency would make it that bit harder for the winner (or loser) to claim to speak for all.

Having said all that, what if it really hits a nerve and we do get an MP or two? And then win the next time round?

Oh dear. Maybe we need to come up with some broad policies in case we do get in? But then wouldn’t there need to be a NETI (Not Even Those Idiots) Party for those who …

File under, good idea — needs more thought.

Cherry Picking


Just been for a sunset stroll down by the Canal and found some new toilet doors for my collection.


And thought about elections and, as regular readers will know well, my disillusionment with our present attempts at ‘democracy’ (a concept with which I had few previous illusions to dis-, to be fair).

There are so many attempts to ‘game’ the process now, one probably sees them where there aren’t any, and recognises them where the players don’t even think of themselves as gamers.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, preferring the ‘cock-up’ interpretation of history, but it seemed odd that so few people in the twitterverse brought attention to the coincidence of the last two elections having amazingly similar terrorist atrocities in the preceding weeks; men in fake bomb vests wielding knives on London bridges. When I mentioned this I was told to furl up my false flag, but I never said they were such things. Though I certainly wouldn’t put it past a psychopath like D Cummings to engineer such an event, I hardly think it has to be done by actors (especially as all such participants must realise they’d be conveniently — albeit necessarily — shot dead before they could make any embarrassing statements). And as was pointed out, we have votes (and terrorist attacks) so often now, that these coincidences are rather likely.

It is of course, always to the advantage of a rightist, ‘loranorder’ party (especially one keen for excuses to introduce draconian public order controls), to have nastiness go down, and agents provocateurs should have little difficulty in encouraging the more susceptible, ‘Four Lions‘ type of fanatics to go for some such action. Even though liberals were able to blame Tory austerity measures that reduced police intelligence and presence, the usual propaganda has been played straight to the fearful public, that the other lot are terrorist sympathizers (bullshit though that is) and the last thing a beleaguered Little England needs right now is understanding and reason.

But terrorism needn’t even be artificially encouraged. Tories aren’t the only people who want oppression.

Even us pacifist anarchists are well read in all manner of terrorist theory, and we know that those wishing to pursue a revolutionary agenda are often as keen on inculcating a draconian state as the reactionaries themselves. It’s a stepping stone to a disgruntled populace (or sector thereof, in the case of something like Islamism), leading to disaffection and increased recruitment. It has always struck me as unamusingly ironic that both subversives and fascists share similar aims, diametrically different though their long-term expectations may be.

But unthinkable nasties aside, it does strike me that the election tactics (and strategies) are at their worst among those I would term the ‘goodies’. As Yeats might have said, the best lack all idea, while the worst / Are full of devious inspiration.

As if to underline my repeated moans that democrats have given up on the idea of persuasion on fundamental issues, the emphasis on persuading the already persuaded just to vote for them affects all parties. I get pamphlets through my door (though no one, unlike our Glenda [Jackson] in my Hampstead days, can be arsed to canvas me in person), telling me that the Tory or Labour candidate is ‘the only one’ who can prevent the (unnamed) SNP candidate (Joanna Cherry, whom I rather admire) from retaining the seat and bringing about a breakup of the union, while staying part of perfidious Europa. And of course I am also told that only a vote for said Cherry can keep the Tories out and prevent Brexit (with a side-order of preferable but optional independence for Scotland).

So no one wants to convince me that I should want those things? The leaflets are obviously designed to be read by those already on one side and binned by the rest. Even the Greens are telling me they’re the only party who can deliver (yeah, right) various aspects of things (most of which I would in fact support — but get real).

So the LibDems, with their lacklustre and austerity-supporting leader are simply promising to reverse Brexit if they get in, which they won’t, and opening themselves to (hilariously illogical but effective) accusations of being opposed to democracy. Labour, with their divisive (though to my mind not remotely racist and reasonable, if smug blinkered and fucking irritating) leader, are promising to renegotiate and then give the people a choice. Now to me this is the only really acceptable thing to do (South o’ the Border anyway), but it is so easily distorted and then ripped apart by the antagonistic media, it’s disappointing how badly they sell it. Tories and Faragists, as they always have, simply offer empty promises and lies — and demonstrably so — knowing that they won’t be called out except in social media bubbles which won’t be looked into by most of their supporters. And the good guys are distracted by their own bubble-blowing, rather than aggressively playing the game back.

I don’t mean spreading their own lies; I mean using all possible means to point out the lies to those who are buying the shit — though to be fair, don’t ask me what those means are. As I’ve said about the Brexit campaign, we do have an adversarial system, where each side is at liberty to distort or simply to lie, and the onus is on the other lot to bring its own evidence and call them out on the bullshit. And so far, as in 2016, there’s been far too little of that — at least where it matters. By all means impeach presidents or threaten MPs with writs for their rule-breaking, but for pity’s sake also get out there and explain to their voters and victims exactly why what they’re trying to do politically is going to make most of their very supporters worse off (financially and in so many other ways), rather than lead them to those sunlit uplands. It’s not easy but instead of heaping scorn on the ‘stupid morons who are deaf to argument’ (an idea planted to spread despair by the very bastards who’ve misled them), do everything possible to show the turkeys that they aren’t only voting for Christmas but helping Mr Matthews build the abattoir. Otherwise those turkeys will just peck you to death in their anger that you’ve stopped Bernard from building their nice, new, (almost) affordable housing.

But it always seems that politicians live in a bubble of self-delusion. OK, it’s rhetoric, and negativity doesn’t work, but from David Steele’s call to Liberal delegates to ‘return to your constituencies and prepare for government!’ to the Corbynistas’ conviction that tomorrow will bring them a sweeping victory, it’s hard not to laugh — extremely sardonically. Is it doublethink or is their brain quite clearly screaming, ‘Oh hell, we’re fucked, don’t show it, don’t show it…’?

And it seems amazing how little the liberal bourgeoisie get it that the things they are aghast at as they emanate from alt-right, Randy Tory mouths, are not ghastly to the people the rhetoric is aimed at. “They want to end free movement,” they gasp, “removing our freedom to live and work in 27 countries! How can people want to vote for that?” or “They’re going to make further cuts in benefits and social support and human rights!” Can they not see how that is seen by many real people as ending ‘their’ freedom to “come over ‘ere and take our jobs” or “stopping the scroungers from getting to the front of the queue at the food banks, in their handout wheelchairs, ahead of hard-working families — not to mention the glorious possibility of locking (and maybe even stringing) ’em all up. Surely the fight is to sell — to as many people as possible — the once quite popular idea that there is such a thing as society and that nations that do educate their populace well and provide well for the least fortunate actually seem to do better on so many counts, and only perform less well at redistributing resources up to the already wealthy few? Then the question of getting people to participate and contribute and even vote for such things might just take care of itself, without all the strategizing and spin. If I didn’t suffer from logorrhoea and negative charisma, I’d be out there on doorsteps now. But I can’t be the only one who thinks these things. Can I?

Having said all that, maybe the pollster’s re-weighting (based on the assumption that many young folk won’t actually get out and vote) is wrong, maybe people will all start realising that Johnson is indeed a total shyster and switch at the last moment, maybe the boos for Boris (if not the cheers for Corbyn) are more indicative than the polls of the true mood in the country, maybe, maybe, maybe — and maybe we’ll all wake up in a couple of days to find a repeat of 1945, where a widely predicted comfortable Tory win turned out to be a Labour landslide.

I won’t be holding my breath. The real fight starts on Friday.

Portrait of an Actor


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Been out all day and spent the evening boozing at the Scottish Arts Club, for the Yuletide members’ exhibition. So all I’m doing is posting pics here and bragging. I’ll be more braggy if somebody actually buys the thing.

And I also played host to a pair of wonderful journalism students from Napier, before they head back home for Weihnachtszeit and to continue their studies there.

And Lisa (on the left) as opposed to Lia (on the right) and Natalia (in the middle, who’s a Club member), has featured me in the online version of Impulse student magazine as an ‘Edinburgh Creative’! You can fool some of the people some of the time — and brag about it. Lia made a film about the Arts Club and me, but I ain’t seen that yet.

Have a good week, y’all.

It’s a Fair Cop (Out), Guv


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So cuddly-bear author of kids’ comics Alan Moore has decided to abandon his long-standing anarchist position of don’t vote; it only encourages them and throw his support behind the Labour Party in the forthcoming general election.

[The use of ‘kids-comic’ above is purely an habitual, knee-jerk wind up to fans of the ‘graphic novel’, and not worth getting into an argument over in the far more important context here; ignore him, Ed]

It’s an old quandary and one your humble and far less influential blogger wrestles with every time any form of ‘democratic’ exercise comes around. To those who think I just can’t be arsed to use what Ambrose Bierce called the instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country [that’s his vote, Ed], I do protest that I think long and hard every time the question comes around. This time indeed presents an even harder struggle than usual.

Perhaps oddly for an anarchist, I would be happy with the imposition of a compulsory (though secret) vote, as long as there was the option of spoiling one’s paper or, preferably, the addition of a none of the above box. And of course the true disciple of Tolstoy, who advocated refusing to pay tax or serve on juries, could always flout the rule and consider going to jail a valid act of defiance. Another opportunity to make sacrifice for the cause. But the opportunity for my lack of voting, as a positive choice, to be taken into account and distinguished from the lazy, the feckless and those who think it’s hilarious to draw a cock and balls on a ballot paper, would be quite welcome.

There is a long and illustrious history of anarchists wrestling with this quandary: can and should an anarch participate in the process of government in the hope of dismantling it from within? Is to play along a complete betrayal of Proudhon’s assertion that anyone who lays a hand on me to govern me is a usurper and a tyrant, and I declare that person my enemy [updated to avoid sexist bias typical of the mid 19th C, Ed].

Indeed, Proudhon himself altered his initial position of non-participation and allowed himself to be elected to the Assembly. Whether this was sensible or a retrograde step is highly debatable, and has been picked over ever since. Would we (ie the general populace) be now more open to the ideas of anarchism had he not been too ‘weak’ to continue a principled fight? Or did his other pronouncement that we should aim for ‘Utopias never; reforms always!’ fit in with a more pragmatic approach?

But in the present climate, I can certainly appreciate Moore’s desperation. We are faced with a government of a vicious, alt-right nature, determined to move towards the kind of devil-take-the-hindmost society that Ayn Rand would have wanted, a world of oppressed ‘losers’ supporting a parasitic group of self-appointed Übermenschen where the things the liberal bourgeoisie would call ‘human rights’ are progressively redefined as not just privileges but artificially scarce commodities. Who would not want to exercise anything that gave an indication of resistance, an attempt at refutation, even if it had little hope of reversing the tide?

When it comes to referendums, your rationalising correspondent does admit to taking part (so you can’t remotely blame him for Brexit!). But in this case, it’s not about electing a ‘representative’, and, strictly speaking, under the UK constitution, anything more than advising the powers-that-usurp of the general public feeling [We won’t repeat all the arguments about validity and numbers and persuasion from posts like Last Look-In to Brexit, if you don’t mind, Ed]. I’m happy to have my opinion noted, however angry I feel about how the result is treated.

But the final road-block, when all the humorous badge slogans like Whoever You Vote For, the Government Always Gets In have been brushed aside, is the fact that if you vote, you are by implication saying I agree to accept and be bound by the results of this competition. It’s an old pro-voting cliché to say that if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the result. But in a very real sense it’s truer to say this if you do vote.

But it’s not enough, in that case, to stand aside wearing an anarchist badge and decrying the whole process of democracy, representative, fptp, direct or indirect as a manipulated sham. One has to be active in promoting alternatives and means of practical resistance.

And that’s where it all falls down of course. ‘Cos I don’t actually do any of those things — unless you count putting my badly-worded case to a tiny handful of readers of this blog as ‘fighting the fight’.

Which no one in their right mind does.

You go for it, Mr Moore!


Tell Me About It!


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I don’t just do blogs, you know. I’ve gorra website, me.

Or rather, I haven’t. My website doesn’t exist. It can’t do because the url is impossible. Or at least it was a few years ago. Despite the fact that I’d been paying good money for it and maintaining it for years, it couldn’t possibly exist.

Not that I can remember exactly where, when or whom, the facts is as follows: I’m sitting in a caff or a pub or at a gathering of some sort, when I tell some geezer, some portly, bewhiskered self-styled übergeek, about some of my shit and tell him it’s on my website. He asks what my site is called and I tell him: it’s Lucidity Limited UK, all lower case, lucidity dot ell tee dee dot uk.
No, no, it cant be that, he says.
Well, I replies, it is.
No, no, no, he insists, it can’t be, there’s no such second level name as ell tee dee.
Well, that’s as may be, I reply, but I seem to have one.
No x 4, that’s impossible. No such thing.
I try to be friendly and say maybe they stopped doing them since I bought mine about ten bloody years ago, but many noes later he insists that’s never been the case.

These days of course one could just whip out a smartphone or tablet and prove it, but then there seemed nothing I could do to disabuse him. His sense of certainty was overwhelming and I almost found myself doubting the name of the site I’d been using since the last minnellium.

What is it with these people who are so sure of themselves? Back in the 70s I drew up a set of ‘Lowe’s Laws’, one of which was that people were right in inverse proportion to their self-confidence. Maybe that’s just to compensate for my own lack of it; “according to Lowe’s Thrid Law, that means I’m probably right most of the time”. Yeah, right.

I hate the term ‘mansplaining’ for a number of reasons. Mainly because it’s just such an ugly verbal construct, with no deference to the natural order of consonant clusters nor to any basic rules of etymology. I don’t doubt the phenomenon exists, I don’t deny that it’s a symptom of an underlying disease of society. But what niggles me most is that I have been a victim of it so often, I begin to wonder if I might actually be female. I’ve even suffered it from females, ffs!

The very wonderful Rebecca Solnit listed a number of examples of patronising explanation she’d suffered at the hands (well, mouths) of men. With one or two, I’d take issue, and trot out my belovéd ‘to a man with a hammer’ line — in at least one case, the bloke had given good reason why he had a particular expertise that was not relevant to his having a dick. But the one that struck me most was a tale about someone giving her and a friend a long spiel about a book he’d read that put some topic in a new perspective. Every time she tried to interrupt or say, “yes, I know, because…” yer man was like, “ah, you think you know, but this book points out …”

It was some time, apparently before her less polite friend managed to stop the guy long enough to tell him that Ms Solnit did indeed know, because Ms Solnit wrote the fucking book!

And I recalled that this happened to me. I was without the helpful friend, but a guy where I worked, from a different department, gave me the same kind of lecture about a report he’d just read, regarding the implementation of some software project or other that shed very interesting light on yaddah yaddah yaddah. So it took me a while to stop him long enough to tell him I wrote that report. Even then, to maintain his assumed superiority, he probably managed to convince himself that, though I may have written it, I hadn’t also read it.

I am a repository of useless and arcane information, ‘a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles’, I admit it. So I do know some silly things (though woefully few useful ones). But an assertive denial often has me backing away, politely (I like to think, though you might just say ‘cowardly’). At a party almost exactly thirteen years ago, when I should have been working to save the relationship with the love of my life, I got instead into a futile discussion with a student, when the word forensic popped up and I used it in its correct sense as denoting something done for the law or the courts.
No, said the beardy twat, it means ‘scientific’.
But I believe (I personsplained) it’s a derivative of the Latin word forensis, as in ‘of the forum’ or public space. Nothing I could say could bend him from his belief that it simply meant scientific. I should have thought to ask, in that case how could someone be a forensic artist? I should have asked our hosts for a dictionary or something (again, this is just before the coming of all-knowing smartphonery) but as usual I just backed away mumbling ameliorations.

Ah well, that’s enough examples (Ed). You probably knew all this already.

Whatever sex you are. Or I am.


Gone Clubbing



Tonight to my Club, and the Scottish Portrait awards, in the presence of the BBC cameras, to see who will be crowned best portraitists with paints (or other materials) and camera. To offset the glamour of all this, have to be there early to shift all the tables from the dining room and set up for the ceremonies.

Furthermore, to complicate matters, ’twas a case of, “Yesternoon to my Club to deliver a decanter (as one does) and return home sharpish” — which turned rapidly into an afternoon of blether and a rather late homecoming.

So the time left for bloggish activities has been reduced. As has the time for getting on with the current mip (masterpiece in progress).

Shaving, ironing a shirt and all that sort of rot seems to be priority.

So go away.