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.

Sick note


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Something is rotten in the state of Dai
I’m nauseous, I can’t think why
And though I don’t like online whingers
I’ suffering from spinal twinges

I had a theme for this weeks’ post
It should be good (I hate to boast)
But ask your pardon for delay
And hope to write another day

Putting the fun into funerals

“I went to the School of Hard Knocks — but I had a note from me Mam”

SPA Break


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More of a puff than a blogpost, this week I wants to tell peeps about the Scottish Portrait Awards, a competition and exhibition what I helps to organise.

This is the third year of operation, and we go from strength to strength. We may not have the reach or the big prizes of the (international) BP awards, but then, neither do we have an unhealthily dull obsession with photorealism, nor a sponsor whose environmental and business practices … let’s just say might cause consternation (rightly or wrongly) in some ‘woke’ quarters.

I have to be honest, as the admin wallah I watched the first few entries arrive in my inbox in late 2016 and my heart sank. The standard, while not reeking of total incompetence, was not particularly high, to say the least. But then, as the months for entries passed, that standard got so good, I was wondering how on earth the judges could select only sixty to represent the cream of Scottish photography and paintery. And this got more the case in the last week or so, when most of the bloody entries come in as a veritable tsunami, keeping me up until the wee smalls, cataloguing them and preparing them to pass to the judges stripped of all identifying marks, save image, title, size and materials used. Some stunning stuff was flooding in.

I also do the admin duties for our short story and flash fiction competitions (being the only member of the Scottish Arts Club who can spell kompewter); they too come in mostly in the latter days, but while the graph there is a steady upward curve, artists, especially the ‘Fine Art’ entrants leave things very much to a ‘hockey-stick’ last minute. I learned in 2017 that it is a mistake to book a 0630 flight to Paris for the day after one is processing entries until 4am!

Entries are open to anyone born, living or studying in Bonnie Scotland, for paintings or sculptures and black and white photography. What has impressed me most has been the variety of styles and ideas, and a willingness among artists and photographers to push the boundaries of what a portrait actually is — and of our judges to consider all these ideas; one of our first finalist snappers had a picture of her sister, curled up on the floor, with her back to the camera, but the title, My Twin, filled that with meaning. And our illustrious judging panels are open to (and vigorously debate) many and varied styles — yes, even photorealism.

(yes, that is a painting)

This year’s show, which will now travel to Glasgow and Kirkcudbright in the New Year, opened to Club members last night, with a lively bash, where wine and conversation flowed freely until the early morn. We have works in oil and acrylic of course, but also in layered glass, porcelain and even  papier-mâché. On Thursday night, we have the official opening for the photographers and on Friday it will be the fine artists’ turn (not that we’re suggesting photography is not a fine art, but one needs some sort of label).  I suppose I’ll have to go along for a glass or three. It’s a hard life.

And then it’s a public thing for the rest of the month. We open our doors to the great unwashed (this means you) between two and five every day except Sundays and Mondays. Absolutely free, though you might well want to purchase one of the masterpieces for yourself — or at least the very wonderful catalogue for a fiver.

Who are the winners? Who will be taking away the prizes, ranging from £100 to £5,000? This year we’re adding an elephant of suspense, by not revealing that until a special bash (more free drinks for the admin guy, yay!) on November 13th. Check out the website if the suspense is killing you. I have no idea who’s been chosen, so I’m sad to say not even bribery will help you there.


I have to get on with painting one of my own for next month’s members show. I’m not allowed to enter the competition I administer, of course. Just as well, as I’d be a shoo-in!

Rasions d’Autre


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The main motivation for this blog is to force me to write a few hundred words each week, to make sure the pen (well, keyboard) keeps flowing and at least something gets writted, even when I’m not getting on with novels etc.


this week:

  • I’ve had family staying (on their way to Antarctica via Dundee)
  • I have some stored telly progs to watch (we have very different tastes)
  • I’m about to start an oil painting which I want to have ready for an exhibition in December
  • I can’t be arsed

So no more than this. Except say hello to my little friend.

Who the Fulke’s That?


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Your rambling blogger has vague memories of the day when he found out that essays were actually a literary form, and not just an instrument of torture, wielded by sadistic teachers. Since then it has been an all-too-sporadic delight to dip into the works of Elia (alias Chas. Lamb), de Quincy, Addison and the other ‘bloggers’ of their day, not to mention his beloved Montaigne from further back and farther away.

For many readers today, when any communication of more than one or two brief paragraphs will be met with the abbreviation TLTR, the works of these old luminaries may seem too prolix (what a change even between my first and last partners-in-life, the first who complained when any missive was under six sides of writing paper – or whatever the carrier pigeon could manage – to the last, who would refuse to read anything more than 50 words). But it’s just a matter (unless you’re an inveterate reader of wordy, 18th or 19thC lit) of getting your head into ‘wallow’ mode and being carried along by the prose, which is, let’s be honest, often about quite trivial subject matter. But that’s part of the joy of the essay: explorations of the quotidian in scintillating form.

And one of the great exemplars, which your correspondent knows less well, was old Billy Hazlitt (hero of my one-time neighbour, Michael Foot). To me (let’s drop the third-person affectation for now), the only way to enjoy these old ramblers and idlers is in equally old hardback editions, probably from Everyman’s Library (I will go with thee, and be thy guide, In thy most need to go by thy side). And ’twas with such a volume that I wallowed recently in a warm bath, both of words and water, reading Mr Hazlitt’s Of Persons One Would Wish to Have Seen. The author recounts an evening’s blether with some fellow wits, including Lamb, where those assembled end up discussing which folks from history they would most like to have met and had discourse with.

As I believe has already been said in these files, our own coterie at the Proms concerts, back in the 90s, had a game we called We’re Going Down the Pub, a mock tv panel show where we discussed a number of real or fictional characters with whom we’d like to go drinking. One crucial rule was No Shop Talk, ie no taking Joe Stalin for a pint, only to ask him why he slaughtered so many of his people. And Hazlitt’s bunch seem to have had a similar idea; they discuss more the companionable nature or otherwise of their intended visitors. Also they fight shy of those, like Shakespeare, of whom they would be too overawed to chat with.

And, among some fascinating and odd suggestions (such as Guy Fawkes), one of Lamb’s ideas is … well, I shall let Hazlitt tell you:

Lamb then named Sir Thomas Browne and Fulke Greville, the friend of Sir Philip Sidney, as the two worthies whom he should feel the greatest pleasure to encounter on the floor of his apartment in their nightgown and slippers, and to exchange friendly greeting with them. At this Ayrton laughed outright, and conceived Lamb was jesting with him, but as no one followed his example, he thought there might be something in it, and waited for an explanation in a state of whimsical suspense. Lamb then (as well as I can remember a conversation that passed twenty years ago — how time slips!) went on as follows. “The reason why I pitch upon these two authors is, that their writings are riddles and they themselves the most mysterious of personages. They resemble the soothsayers of old, who dealt in dark hints and doubtful oracles; and I should like to ask them the meaning of what no mortal but themselves, I should suppose, can fathom.

Now my only prior knowledge of Fulke Greville (now Wikipedially extended) was his connection with Warwick Castle, near to which I once dwelt. He is buried in St Mary’s Church, and it is said (especially by guides to credulous tourists) that his ghost returns to the tower in which he had his rooms. As the Great Towers website (honestly) tells us:

Greville’s ghost returns to the castle to walk the room that was once his study. Here witnesses have reported catching fleeting glimpses of his sad shade staring at them from the dark corners, or feeling his presence at the place where he once composed such prophetic lines as:

If nature did not take delight in blood,
She would have made more easy ways to good.”


But mainly it struck me that each generation will have its celebrities and its idols, many of whom (with the exception of the Shakespearos) will be forgotten a century later. Greville was an outlier even in Hazlitt’s day, as Ayrton’s reaction shows, but who now even knows he was a writer? And who apart from scholars reads Phil Sidney, for that matter? I only know him as the geezer who said that heaven must be like eating foie gras to the sound of trumpets — and that wasn’t him at all but someone called Sydney Smith! Astrophel, that was P Sidney. Never read it. Probably never will. None of these ever featured in WGDtP, that’s for sure.


So who would your erudite chatterer go for these days, as an off-kilter choice? Someone I hadn’t heard of back in the last minnellium, but have since translated and even bigged up on these pages before, methinks. ‘Nun’ other than Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, author of Hombres Necios (see Hashtag Yo Tambien, 1st May 2019).

As I said back then, she was amazingly erudite, had a library of 4,000 books, spoke Latin, Spanish and Nahuatl and wrote on many topics, not least her polemics on male double standards and the importance of making education available to women. From her writing one gets a sense of a very witty as well as wise woman, with a deep humanity and engagement with life. So, assuming my ‘gaditano’ Spanish is up to the job, what a great person to pass some time and tequilas with, ¿verdad?

And as, despite her putative ‘calling’, she famously entertained lovers of both sexes in her cell, who knows how a visit might develop? It’s not all about the blether, you know.

After all, we’re not allowed to talk shop.

Please Sir, it was him, Sir


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One of my favourite smartarse aphorisms is ‘Fair’ is a word for the playground, not for politics. By which I intend to indicate not only a Wildean superiority of wit and wisdom, but also that fairness is a nebulous and emotive term, more suited to the whines of aggrieved kids than any rational political or even ethical debate.

Yes of course some idea of ‘equity’ has to be involved, but no fair! is not in and of itself a valid rebuttal for anything.

But playground simplicity is never far from the surface in the most adult of discussions. Back in even my youngest day, I recall watching representatives of Palestine and Israel, Northern Irish Prods and Catholics, interviewed on tv, making passionately a case which, it always seemed to me, boiled down to yeah but no but yeah but they started it!

And now there seem to be endless variations, on the antisocial media, of a new trending meme: what would they say if ….?

Usually it’s something like, just think what libtards would say if Nigel Farage did something like that, or imagine the field-day the tabloids would have if Jeremy Corbyn was caught doing that on his allotment — equally prevalent on all sides of all arguments and equally irrelevant (rationally) in all cases.

Even comedians get in on the act, though I couldn’t work out whether kraut* comic Henning Wehn was wholly serious with his tweet about Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens: The ref is lecturing the Argie captain in English. Now imagine a ref speaking Spanish to the England skipper.

Can we drop it, please guys? Just as I argued (no doubt unconvincingly) in Quote Me No Quotes a few weeks ago, and have plugged away at ad nauseam (what would folks say if Piers Morgan went on like that?), it’s yet another way of fogging a debate that we really need to have in a vaguely rational manner if possible, if only because the outcomes (of Brexit, left v right, climate change v bullshit denial, etc) could be pretty fucking crucial for all of us.

As I commented when some Brexit Party shill posted a twitter poll on whether climate change was a real issue or not, Fortunately (or rather unfortunately in this case) facts are impervious to votes. The facts are incontrovertible. I’m getting on and I don’t have kids, so it’s not that important to me, but if you do, you owe it to them to face those facts.

And while we’re all wondering what the other side would do if the offense boot was on the other foot, those facts are fucking with our very lives.

As teachers, when challenged with, please sir, they did it first, would always respond — so if they jumped off a cliff, would you copy that?

Admittedly that logic is rather dodgy too, but you get my drift, I’m sure.


*Yes, I’m joking; just referring to that heinous BritainFirst poster. But then imagine what the alt-right fascist bastard morons would say if some German lefties produced a poster calling Boris Johnson an Inselaffe (island ape)!