Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quote Of The Day

In a comment on this Damian Thompson piece (discussing the fact that 25% of babies born in England and Wales were to foreign-born mothers) :

If Notting Hill produces its normal quota of stabbings, muggings, drug arrests etc, and not a huge riot, the liberal regime will be like a cock crowing on its pile.

But they won't be emphasising that this wondrous display of diversity needed to be policed by 16,400 officers.

This is about twice the number of British troops in Helmand. It is about half the number of the security forces deployed at the height of the Troubles. It is less than half of the current size of the PSNI, with all the sectarianism that continues there.

It is about the same number of British soldiers deployed in England, Scotland and Wales at any one time during the 18th century; when there was no police force to speak of - and we are told that England was a very riotous place indeed.

If there is no riot then what a triumph of multi-culturalism it will have been.
Now my info is that "only" 10,000-plus officers are being deployed. But I take the general point.

UPDATE - he's got the PSNI bit wrong way round. The PSNI is less than half the size of the force deployed for Notting Hill.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Night Music - "Cold Be My Days In Shipston On Stour"

In 1969, the Bee Gees had split up, and Robin Gibb had retreated to the Warwickshire countryside to get his head together, producing some decidedly "interesting" music.

The LP, "Sing Slowly Sisters" was never released - and these lo-fi cuts seem to be all that I can find - sounding as if it was recorded in a tin can that was simultaneously being whirled round someone's head. A pity, as the title track is really rather lovely.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Erne From The Coast

The Very Rev Hunter Farquharson, who breeds and shows birds as a hobby, returned to his cottage to find his prize-winning goose Beatrice dead, and a white-tailed sea eagle perched on a fence post nearby. The giant raptor, with a wingspan of up to 8ft, was one of 16 released recently in the east of Scotland as part of a controversial reintroduction programme.

Mr Farquharson, Provost of St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth, said he was "horrified" to find the goose, worth about £300, "ripped to shreds". He went inside to phone the RSPB, a partner in the reintroduction project, but then heard a "terrible noise" as the eagle chased his champion gander Bertie. When he tried to intervene the raptor jumped on his back, tearing his shirt, leaving a 4in wound below his shoulder and cutting his head.

My kids were up on the west coast of Scotland last week and saw a couple of sea eagles. Reminds me of this - T.O. Beachcroft's The Erne From The Coast - a rite-of-passage favourite of school short story anthologies "in elder days before the Fall".

When they saw Harry come towards them they waited, unmoving. They could hardly see at first who or what it was. Harry came up and dropped the bird at his father's feet. His coat was gone. His shirt hung in bloodstained rags about him; one arm was caked in blood; his right eyebrow hung in a loose flap, with the blood still oozing stickily down his cheek.

“Good God!” said Thorburn, catching him by the arm as he reeled.

He led the boy into the kitchen. There they gave him a glass of brandy and sponged him with warm water. There was a deep long wound in his left forearm. His chest was crisscrossed with cuts. The flesh was torn away from his neck where the talons had sunk in. The doctor came. Harry's wounds began to hurt like fire, but he talked excitedly. He was happier than he had ever been in his life. Everybody on the farm came in to see him and to see the eagle's body.

All day his father hung about him, looking into the kitchen every half hour. He said very little, but asked Harry several times how he felt. “Are you aw reet?” he kept saying. Once he took a cup of tea from his wife and carried it across the kitchen in order to give it to Harry with his own hands.

Later in the day old Michael came back, and Harry told him the whole story. Michael turned the bird over. He said it was an erne, a white-tailed sea eagle from the coast.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Fly On The Wall ....

... passed me the transcript of a conversation between an unnamed UK media consultant and spin-doctor, and an internationally famous financier who's not been getting too good a press lately. I cannot vouch for its authenticity, but make it available, for what it's worth, in the public interest :

"Sir, what can I do to salvage my reputation with the liberal classes ? A bit of fun - I swear she consented - and the Guardian have published 348 articles attacking me! Even after charges are dropped they're still at it, with innuendo about class justice and the rich getting the pleasure while the poor get the blame.

It's getting my wife down - and it's doing my reputation as a Socialist no good either. Some people just don't understand the concept of 'from each according to her abilities, to one according to his needs!'"

"It's 351 articles, actually - another three this morning. Now I can help you - but you may not like what I'm going to suggest."

"Please speak - I will be forever in your debt"

"Unlikely, even with my fees. You want to continue your amours, your peccadillos, your ... er ... bunga-bunga - with whoever takes your fancy and whenever ?"

"Mais oui !"

"Even when the object of your desires is ... shall we say ... a little backward in her response to ... your ardent advances ?"

"We understand each other, m'sieu"

"And you want the Guardian to look steadfastly in the other direction and write nothing, perhaps with the occasional piece accusing your critics of being motivated by racism ?"

"As you say in your country, m'sieu - that will do nicely"

"If you can follow my advice you will never be troubled by the Guardian again. You will be able to do what you like, to whom you like, and they will write nothing. But the course I suggest involves, for you, great personal sacrifice."

"What is it, man - for pity's sake tell me what I should do !"

"You must change your name to something like Youssiff Ibrahim, and move to Greater Manchester"

"Mon Dieu !"