04 January 2010


The Fabian Society was founded in 1878.  In 1903, Topsy, an abused circus elephant who had killed three men, was electrocuted by Thomas Edison.  She was fed postassium cyanide-laced carrots before Edison sent 6000 volts of electricity through her.  He caught the whole sick spectacle on film.  Rose Heilbron became the first female judge at the Old Bailey in 1972.  In 1975, Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first American-born person to be canonised by the Roman Catholic Church.  And in 1999, 16 people were killed and 25 wounded, when gunmen opened fire in a mosque in Islamabad.

Born today:  Isaac Newton (1643-1727), Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) and Louis Braille (1809-1852).

It is Independence Day in Myanmar.


  1. From... 'the shoulders of giants' - I wish.

    A note of sympathy for anyone who this day has to return to a job of work that they find oppressive/degrading or even downright tedious.

  2. I have a sense of your points 3p4 & Hank ......the absurdity of a sometime rambling drunk pontificating about trolls is not lost on me.

    I also recognise that one man's troll is another person's meat and drink.

    I ought to make clear that I don't seek the silence of anyone. That said, I do think that Stoaty's observation that some folk are best left to fish in dry rivers was timely.

    A self imposed period of reflection from in the cupboard under the stairs is called for methinks.

    I'll be back mid month(ish). Fortiously my absence from this great place will allow me to get down to some pressing tasks - not least of which is to fix my leaking roof.

    I will be reading here regularly so please to keep up the good work all who contribute at UT.

  3. habib - sorry to hear about the girl trouble. and congrats on posting the sisters, i thought i was alone on that ("rationale and rhyme and reason pale beside a single kiss"). on your question, maybe the issue was that your male mates were in a 'bunch' - the ol' stereotype of men not wanting to talk about their feelings does seem to hold more in group situations (not wanting to look like a wuss) whereas i've always found my male mates just as supportive and reflective as the women when i get 'em on their own. also, if they knew you had female friends to do the talky stuff, they might have thought that getting bladdered and having a laugh was another element to supporting you.

    anyway, hope you're cheering up. good vibes.

    and deano - good luck with the roof, and don't stay up there too long...

  4. Morning all,
    You were, are, right deano.
    Trouble is that lunatic is fast becoming the 'outside threat' that unites us. We should aspire to more.
    Sorry to here about habibs probs, I'd hate to be a young man in these times. What the hell are we for?
    Wouldn't mind being 60 again though.

  5. A belated happy New Year guys - 4 Jan already and cold as it is the light is lasting longer

    Colin, 60 is the new 50 they tell me which is nae comfort! As for being young, I am reminded of Larkin gazing at the moon -

    One shivers slightly, looking up there.
    The hardness and the brightness and the plain
    Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare

    Is a reminder of the strength and pain
    Of being young; that it can't come again,
    But is for others undiminished somewhere.

    04 January, 2010 11:26

  6. To continue a long-standing discussion topic, this is from the Conservatives' new draft manifesto regarding the NHS:

    One in four British adults experience at least one mental health problem in any given year and poor mental health costs the economy £77 billion each year. So we will remove the rules preventing welfare-to-work providers and employers purchasing services from Mental Health Trusts so that many more unemployed people and at-risk workers can be helped.

    So, James Purnell did not toil in vain to ensure that the mentally ill would be forced to work in order to ensure that he could continue to sponge off the state.

    Nice to see it being portrayed as "helping" "at-risk" workers.

  7. HeyHabib - Sorry to hear about your lady troubles. I must admit that I have often found that when there are a group of guys together they tend to take the piss - I think it is meant in an affectionate way and often can be quite funny. It was weird when my dad died because the blokes I worked with (a really good bunch but piss takers every one of em) didn't know what the hell to do. I mean if your boiler blows up they can take the piss right? Same if your dog is ill (though I didn't find that one too funny) but they clearly cant take the piss out of a dead dad. So there was a lot of uncomfortable silences in the weeks following.

    I must say though that sometimes I find womens endless desire to hash over certain things a bit draining (not all women I know, but quite a few of my friends do this). I suspect a nice balance of both is best all round?

    Atomboy - that is pretty worrying stuff. 'Help' the most misused word in the English language by those rotten shits in power.

    Deano - hurry back.

  8. Atomboy

    Call me Dave was on the news this morning saying how the nhs will be one of their top priorities - I dread to think what that means and judging from what you have found it will not be good news.

    Have not seen the manifesto so I suppose I should go and have a look for it.

  9. Sheff - I recall an episode of Yes Minister when the news came in that Hacker's department had been stated to be 'a priority' by the PM.

    Sir Humphrey's reaction?
    Oh God...

  10. phillipa - yes! my reaction exactly. Found these from the manifesto

    Our reform plan is based on the methods of the post-bureaucratic
    age – decentralisation, accountability and transparency....Instead of bureaucratic accountability there will be democratic accountability. We will decentralise power, so that patients have a real choice.

    What the fuck does post-bureaucratic mean? and as to accountability and transparency, well excuse me if I have a little trouble believing that.

    To give patients even more choice, we will open up the NHS to include new independent and voluntary sector providers..

    Ah choice...a wonderful thing - seems like a market place for every hungry private company in the sector is being arranged.

    Too depressed to continue....but there's lots more here if you fancy a read. Gird your loins and stiffen your sinews first though.

  11. Atomboy, the two neo-liberal parties want to beat up as much as possible ofn the poor, the sick,thedisabled,the marginalised. Makes 'em feel tough, don't you know. Wankers, the lot of them, who are remarkably proficient at finding sinecures for their offspring and cronies.
    Oh, and both showers of shits want this bollocks of choice/marketisation/consumerism/privatisation.The central (and very New labour: you can see Purnell's fingerprints on it) line appears to be one of telling people that they are more 'empowered' than they feel or indeed are, because notionally they can exercise some choice over small parts of their lives. Choice, that great mantra of our times, which is an empty choice, choice only inasmuch as you are allowed to be a compliant little consumer, just so long as you don't rock the neo-liberal boat. Empowerment isn't about being an uncomplaining happy shopper drone, but genuine empowerment ain't on the agenda.
    BTW, hasn't MaM kept very quiet...

  12. Re: Conservative NHS manifesto

    I found the pdf at the Conservatives website, but have converted it - a bit clumsily - into something which anyone can read and copy over here.

  13. AlisdairCameron>

    Everything you say is true.

    Unfortunately, like others above, I am too enraged to answer you or contribute properly here.

    "Laters" as they say on Corrie.

  14. Atomboy

    re rage - this comment from a Richard Dadd sums it up quite nicely

    So this means that the New Tories will continue James “Arbeit macht Frei” Purnell’s WorkFare scheme but with even more venom and vigour, in order to ensure that everyone has to work, even those who clearly cannot due to mental health issues.

  15. Sheff
    "What the fuck does post-bureaucratic mean?"

    It means we put your records in the internal post and now we can't find them, so you don't get a new hip.

  16. Afternoon all!

    from the con manifesto:
    That’s why we’ll move from state action
    to social action – to encourage responsibility and score a clear line between right and wrong.
    We will use the state to help remake society.


  17. gandolpho

    We will use the state to help remake society.

    Now why does that thought make me shudder

  18. lol phillipa...I really don't know whether to laugh, weep or oil my kalashnikov.

  19. Sheff
    sounds like 1984 to me but worse.....I am speechless,and that they even considered publishing this crap beggars belief..europe indeed is verging on a neo facist era i fear..this is the kind of thing I'm use to hearing in Italy unfortunately...

  20. the 3rd on your list sheff...i've got me beretta ready!!!

  21. I second gandolfo - Sheff. I am out shopping for an uzi 9 millimeter (said in Austrian accent) this afternoon. I am so angry right now. In fact I am so angry I feel like I am going to explode. Shitdribble Purnell really is an evil, evil little fuck.

    Alisdair - you are so right but what is worrying is that it only needs enough complacent, comfortably off, people to buy into this crap and it will sail through. I wonder if we will end up with any sort of real protest? I mean this stuff is surely on a par with the poll tax and look what happened then - people were out on the streets - where is that anger now? I genuinely do not understand it.

    A trade unionist friend of mine wants the Tories in. His view is that because New Lab betrayed their own, people are wondering around not knowing what to do. His view is as soon as the Tories are in the Unions will become revitalized - start organizing walk outs left right and center and that people will take to the streets. I think he has rose tinted glasses on. The only bit I totally agree with him on is that New Labour has to die - even if that means four years of Tory rule. I cannot bring myself to vote for them anyway, even though I know the Tories will be ten times worse. New Labour have betrayed far too many in our society for me to give them my x in the box.

  22. That’s why we’ll move from state action
    to social action – to encourage responsibility and score a clear line between right and wrong.
    We will use the state to help remake society

    Just like the GOP - blithering on about the evils of 'big government' and the need to roll back the state ("defend our shores, deliver our mail, we'll call you when we need you") but suddenly anxious for state intervention when faced with somebody else doing something they don't like. Like be gay or have an abortion. No, there, they need big government. But that's not at all immensely hypocritical. Or totally lacking in self-awareness or shame.

    Who wants to bet on what side of that 'line between right and wrong' that most of us will fall? I want call-me-dave wittering on about morals about as much as i want gorgeous george in charge of spending public money on the workhouse innovations that result...

    Bah. Peh. Meh. Etc.

  23. I can see where your friend is coming from. The Tories are bastards to our faces, whereas Labour are shiftier and sneakier enemies to us all, so mobilising against neo-liberal bastardry is easier with a more open and overt foe.

  24. pcc
    the logic of your friend is the same as that of RCP and my ol mate Claire Fox, when I was a poly she used to go round telling people to vote tory so that it would insight revolution....didn't seem to work then but who knows....

  25. As has already been said elsewhere the great British public are too supine and easily bought off to revolt in any numbers. God knows what it'll take to get them off their arses.

    Policy announcements seem to be top of the news today, all crap - I'm really dreading this election.

  26. God knows what it'll take to get them off their arses.

    Perhaps an opportunity to tweet to the Guardian from the dangerous surroundings of a G20 protest or an anti-racism rally? Twitter is the new petrol-bomb chucking.

  27. This is a bit of a comment I have just posted on Ed Balls thread re UNUM Provident and their worrying power over policy of the British government. I don't know if others here think it is appalling that a private American insurance company - that has a clear vested interest as it specialises in providing sickness income cover - should be so involved in UK government policy?

    '' The Tories are carrying on this governments anti-the-sick policies with zeal however. And the reason is more than just the Daily Mail and its hate spewing pages. New Labour commissioned a report into sickness and sickness benefits from Cardiff University - from the UNUM Provident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research based at Cardiff. This center is not at all impartial, although it claims to be for it is not only bankrolled by UNUM Provident but their chair woman is on the board of the committee that makes the recommendations to the DWP.

    I would urge everyone - left or right, Tory or Labour supporter - to seriously look into and question why a British government has let a private American health insurance provider steer their policy on benefit payments to the sick. As it is a very clear undermining of any pretense at democracy.

    The fact is that this company is in trouble in the US because of its terrible record on paying out claims. So not only are they trying to force European nations to take an approach similar to that of the US in welfare provision so as to give them a bigger market. But to add insult to injury they have an atrocious claims record. They are also behind this drive to make GP's do 'well notes' instead of sick notes. They are also trying to make ever increasing numbers of diseases somatoform rather than physcial. ''

  28. Scherf - I think you have a very good point. Too many of us (myself included) are venting our anger in various ways online. I have joined a group against welfare reform and we will be having a real - in the flesh meeting in Feb. But most of the time I vent my anger here.

    But I do think that the only way to sort this out is going to be through proper unrest and action - out on the streets. It will probably need violence to overthrow this lot of parasitic monstrosities though because peaceful demonstrations have no effect - as the anti war marches showed. I went on every march I could and when Blair and co just totally ignored us it defeated a lot of people in the movement. In fact maybe the way New Lab ignored the biggest ever demonstrations to take place is what has totally taken the wind out of peoples sails - who knows?

  29. generally i dont comment on politics,,because
    in my world i really dont care if politics are
    hellenic democracy,,marxist communism,,or benevolent dictatorship,,or imperial court

    it does not matter

    what matters is that the individuals involved act with honesty and integrity,,personal honesty and personal integrity,,

    without that its all pissing in the wind,,pace the last 500 years,,

    it too simple for the clever people to get it,,

    the answer is always you,,you you you you you,,
    as soon as the problem or the answer becomes "them" your fucked baby,,now you into "conflict" cos you cant control them,,you can only control you but then you into cooperation,,

    words of the simpleton,,you can see why i dont post on politics,,

    i am just as stupid about economics too,,if you produce food or shelter you are "making" money,,creating "prosperity",, anything else is just moving it around,,

    wealthy is never good

    prosperity is the ultimate success,,it includes security,,

    security is the only intangible in the
    food/shelter package,,

  30. pcc, it's depressing that eg. the anti-war marches had zero effect on policy. With the demise of the unions, there seems no possibity of anything like the General Strike of 1926, which may well be the only thing that would change anything. There is no common ground anymore, and no solidarity. Two recent strikes (postal workers and BAA) really brought out the worst of people on the Cif boards. Fuck the workers - I want my Argos package before Xmas and I want my Xmas break in Lanzorote. I despair.

  31. words of the simpleton,,you can see why i dont post on politics

    3p4, you sound extremely naive (not an insult). However 'individual' you may feel you are, you are not an island. Everything affects you, and having personal honesty and integrity is not enough - it's only a starting point. And your 'security' depends not on you, but on others.

  32. 3P4 - what Scherfig said!

    Scherfig - yep - the BBC commentary on the BA strike made me want to scream! Load of self obsessed narcissists who think of nothing but themselves moaning about their holiday to Benidorm being ruined.

    I am off for a nap but will be back later.

  33. i quite agree sherfig,,exactly what i meant,,as per the chomsky on untrusted2

    ""What's interesting about these trivialities is not the principle, which is transparent, but the demonstration of how it works itself out in specific detail to cases that are important to people: like intervention and aggression, exploitation and terror,

    Rather, it is to ask the listener to question the frame of reference that he/she is accepting, and to suggest alternatives that might be considered, all in plain language. I've never found that a problem when I speak to people lacking much or sometimes any formal education, though it's true that it tends to become harder as you move up the educational ladder, so that indoctrination is much deeper, and the self-selection for obedience that is a good part of elite education has taken its toll.""""

    i am way out of my league here in print Sherfig so realise please that i am only trying to share my view since these topics will become more and more the subjects of day in day out posts on UT
    and i would like to be ABLE to participate,,

    personally i interpret all the words of tao zen buddha jesus et al as describing niavety as next to enlightenment,,

  34. what matters is that the individuals *involved* act with honesty and integrity,,personal honesty and personal integrity,,

    However 'individual' you may feel you are, you are not an island. Everything affects you, and having personal honesty and integrity is not enough - it's only a starting point

    i think the key word is not 'individual' but 'involved' !

  35. 3p4, apologies if I misunderstood, but...

    because in my world i really dont care if politics are hellenic democracy,,marxist communism,,or benevolent dictatorship,,or imperial court

    it does not matter

    seems to me to quite clear and unambiguous, and also totally wrong (imho). Does it really make no difference to you whether you live under a Hitler regime, a Mao regime or a Bush regime? And if it makes no difference to you, what about everybody else to whom it might make a very considerable, if not fatal, difference?

    btw, quoting Chomsky seems a bit of an irrelevant distraction.

  36. and maybe you looked at individual rather than involved because

    it tends to become harder as you move up the educational ladder

    sigh i know knomic gnomic no mick

    my middle name 'is' michael

  37. hitler mao and bush are hardly honest integrity,,
    were the hell is 'fatality' in honest integrity

    the chomsky says what i agree with without double commas and grade school grammar,,
    sorry for the distraction,,

    there have been very few examples of

    hellenic democracy,,marxist communism,,or benevolent dictatorship,,or imperial court

    that did have honesty and integrity,,and thousands of examples that did not,,bush mao blah blah

  38. Sorry, gotta go, 3p4. Carry on later, maybe? btw, I take it that you are using 'gnomic' in its cryptic sense rather than its epigrammatic sense? :0)

  39. Last quick comment - personal honesty and personal integrity is by definition self-defined. I've no doubt that Hitler, Mao and Bush all felt they were 'doing the right thing'. I beg to differ, I'm just not that morally relativistic.

  40. personal honesty and personal integrity is by definition self-defined.

    disagree,,see ya later

  41. Sheffpixie

    As has already been said elsewhere the great British public are too supine and easily bought off to revolt in any numbers. God knows what it'll take to get them off their arses.

    Well, competitive binge-drinking and drug-taking tends to cover the young especially and parading more toys than your neighbour certainly occupies everyone else.

    To imagine that there will be a cavalry arriving over the horizon at the head of which will emerge a credible and charismatic leader, with chiselled good looks, to lead us into salvation is always going to lead to disappointment.

    Ask yourself how many people you know who you could talk to or email with the expectation that they would be prepared to take some kind of action; make some kind of political stand.

    The reason nothing happens is because the numbers are so small.

    The ones who really want to make things happen are in politics anyway, ruining the lives of everyone else.

    The rest of us cannot quite be bothered enough.

  42. Atomboy
    Ask yourself how many people you know who you could talk to or email with the expectation that they would be prepared to take some kind of action; make some kind of political stand.

    Well personally I know quite a few but I realise thats still only a wee drop in the ocean. And I long ago gave up on the 'being rescued' illusion.

    Still, hope for something better for my grandchildren's generation is not quite dead - although I'm not optimistic.

  43. Ask yourself how many people you know who you could talk to or email with the expectation that they would be prepared to take some kind of action; make some kind of political stand.

    I've just had a think about that and the result is bloody depressing.

    How many could I get to sign a petition? Ooh, how many friends do I have on facebook? Couple of dozen would put their name to something.

    But how many would come march? Think I could probably rustle up three. Maybe four if I brought biscuits.

    While not being bothered is a problem, on the 'what are you scared of' thread on CIFBelief earlier, I opined that a lot of people are too busy trying to survive to man any barricades. Finding / keeping a job, paying the bills, subsisting, is also part of the problem, as is a feeling of hopelessness (which I see as different from indifference). Which of course is a result of the current polity.

    They have us exactly where they want us. Voiceless and knackered.


    Christ, need to cheer up. Hang on.

  44. Ooh, I finally got a link to work. Happy.

  45. Evening all!

    Not much time to browse yet - just sat down with a nice hot cuppa.

    Jeebus but it is taters out there!

  46. Sheffpixie

    Sorry - that was not quite aimed at you in the way it must have seemed. I was just using your quote to make a point.

    However depressing it might be, I think we all know that nothing is really ever going to happen.

  47. I think we all know that nothing is really ever going to happen.

    Oh I don't know atomboy - there's plenty of room for it to get even worse...which it may have to before people really sit up and take notice. Horrible thought though.

  48. gandolfo - thanks for the heads up, and thank the lord for RapidEddie... have saved a copy of his post just in case being reasonable and informed earns him the axe...

  49. hi philippa

    loved rapideddie's aga imagery a bloody classic!
    "Throw another peasant into the Aga, Den. There's a terrible cold wind of change about the place these days."

  50. Ay ay - It's very easy on these threads to just vent and splutter. It's nice to have a couple of chaps out there sticking to high standards of historical and factual accuracy, and no little elegance of language...

  51. That was a fine post from RapidEddie, it has to be said.

    "Tough on happiness, tough on the causes of happiness. "

    It really is time for a change from both these bloody corporatist parties. I am sick to my stomach of it and don't know what the solution is.

  52. Also loving Vadid's sneaky attempt to get past the mods:
    What has happened since Major really beggars belief. A complete and utter flustercluck which has brought the country to the edge of bankruptcy

    flustercluck, I like that...

  53. sounds like a panic in a henhouse.

  54. LOL Pip!

    Speaking of "panic in the henhouse" I heard the silliest programme on R4 this afternoon in the car comparing entrepreneurship to Jemima Puddleduck. Apparently we are to have a whole week of comparing business models to Beatrix Potter stories.... uhuh....

  55. Atomboy - I think if things got bad enough then people would eventually rise up. The worry is though that they would follow exactly what you describe, some charismatic leader who turns out to be a nutter.

    I do think eventually Western governments are going to start to pay for their neo liberal policies. Because all it takes is for enough people to lose their jobs/homes/savings etc, etc for things to turn nasty. That is why I cannot really get my head around the way a lot of governments have acted - it seems counter intuitive for their own survival.

    I firmly believe that you can only push people so far and that there is only so much people will take. Unfortunately I think things will have to get a lot worse than this before enough people get off their arses. Even more unfortunately if our masters carry on with their mad monetarist policies, things for the average person will get a lot worse.

    In the past governing bodies have had varying degrees of success at recognizing when that tipping point is approaching - sometimes they have been able to avert it by introducing certain policies - other times they have not seen it coming. It only takes one small spark to set a fire.

    Look at what people took under Thatcher and then suddenly the poll tax kicked it all off. I think it all depends on what happens. If we escape out of this 'recession' by the skin of our teeth and it is back to business as usual for enough people, then maybe nothing will happen but if over the next five or ten years things get much worse I cannot see us escaping serious unrest and geopolitical consequences.

  56. BB - Yes! I caught the last ten minutes of that and was really very confused by it all.

    Although I did once rewrite Cecily Parsley as a Bea-Campbell-OBE feminist tract, so maybe there's more to it than meets the eye.

    The Tailors of Gloucester as a damning indictment of the decline of small-scale manufacturing in the UK?

  57. Alisdair - brilliant quote that on the MacShane abomination if you are about.

  58. "Just a Minute" on R4 was very funny tonight. (Sorry, non-UK people.)

    Thanks for the kind thoughts, earlier, much appreciated.

    Col, it's not the years, it's the mileage, baby (Indie Jones quote) and with that thought in mind, here's a song for whoever.

  59. hi habib.......i'm going to listen now......hope all's ok:)

  60. MacShame? Ohhh nooooooes! It's like a car crash: I'll have to look.

    Was driving along the other day and saw an orange-and-white cone at the side of the road. Immediately thought of RapidEddie. He's a good poster.

    Living in a country village as I do, a lot of my mates are rather on the conservative side. Funnily enough, the only ones I could see being convinced to man the barricades are the middle-class ones. I'm thinking of one couple in particular who are quite political and in despair at New Labour: when I call them 'middle-class', I mean 'haven't worked for a decade and don't need to'.

    But they'd be with us on the barricades. Probably having brought some nice wine and nibbles, and more than willing to get arrested in the cause.

  61. Melanie Phillips on Radio 4 at the mo - investigating the 'plight' of the unemployed.

  62. Hi everybody!
    Hope the New Year is treating you all well. I see Habib has some girl probs, I offer a line from an urdu poem/song as a salve "I am Romeo therefore heart break is bearable..." Yes I know this 'rote' can get old but hang in there.
    Just read David Mitchell's piece on Cif and am now wondering what would be the offspring of Tanya Gold and him be like. Really wish my mind wouldn't go to these places : (

  63. "Westergaard has been visiting America and giving talks about his role in the 2005 Muhammad cartoon crisis. In New York on 30 September he told the audience that Muslims need to develop a sense of humour and an appreciation of satire."

    Likewise those who now seek to condemn Nancy Graham Holm, but who has herself demanded that The Guardian remove from CiF a satirical post to which she objected.

    Any takers BeautifulBurnout?

  64. thauma:

    when I call them 'middle-class', I mean 'haven't worked for a decade and don't need to'

    Doesn’t sound like you agree 100% with the Marxist analysis of class, then ;-)


    Melanie Phillips on Radio 4

    Good spot. I’ll listen to it in a while when it’s on i-player, though I fear it will give me nightmares.


    (Slightly belated) welcome to Untrusted.

    And I’m still sticking to my New Year’s Resolution, just…

  65. sheff tried to listen to mel phillips but they don't let her be heard yet outside the UK....

    but next week...
    "Melanie spends time with cleaners and catering staff working on the minimum wage and asks what motivates them to work. Would Melanie's own assiduous work ethic survive night shifts, low pay and cleaning lavatories?"

    shame they don't televise it but i guess it's sooooo easy to imagine her nose turning up

  66. Just read David Mitchell's piece on Cif and am now wondering what would be the offspring of Tanya Gold and him be like. Really wish my mind wouldn't go to these places

    You're not the only one! Get it right back out of there, NOW! Mitchell is kind of a sweetie, if you ask me. He knows he's a middle-class dweeb and he can at least laugh at himself for it. Tanya Gold is just vile.

  67. The law's an ass
    that it may sentence pass
    on those who take the goose from off the common
    but sets the greater villain loose
    who steals the common from off the goose

    Seriously, i think it is a problem that there are few "common causes" that people would massive rally for.

  68. Well, Andy, tbh it's a long time since I've read Marx.

    My own opinion is that 'middle-class' starts at some very vaguely defined point where you're earning a decent whack of money. But the Guardianistas' opinion seems to be that 'middle-class' means independently wealthy with privately-educated children named Tabitha and Henry.

    Actually it's not just the Guardianistas. My credential-bearing working-class mates reckon that anyone who has to work for a living to pay the bills is working-class.

    So, really, I'm a bit confused about what 'middle-class' means in current UK society.

  69. Also, if you are a boomerang kid, or a squatter fortified with convictions of a more or less absolute nature, then it is easy to come out for something to the point that you might risk jail. But if you've got kids or other dependants .. Been there, got the T-shirts.

  70. Oh, and I can't say that most people I think of as 'middle-class' are in any way close to owning the means of production. They might own their own house, with or without the bank.

    The friends I was referring to are definitely upper middle class, if not lower upper class. Lucky bastards.

    And now I've read the MacShame article and am just speechless on it. I ... what hypocrisy ... gah!

  71. Thauma your working class mates are right!

  72. Evening others I haven't already said good evening to.

    I really don't get the point in putting up a McShame article for 2 hours just to shut it down again. Silly buggers.

  73. McShame writing about John Major - have I died and gone to hell? Will definitely give that one a miss.

  74. gandolfo:

    I know, sounds like she’s really suffering for her work, slumming it with all those poor unfortunates.
    But according to the R4 website (where I assume you’ve got your info):

    Melanie Phillips embarks on a personal journey to explore what work means to some of the most vulnerable and socially-excluded people in Britain

    Like a dog lying in a corner, they'll bite you and never warn you. Look out, they'll tear your insides out, 'cos everybody hates a tourist, especially one who thinks it's all such a laugh, and the chip stains and grease will come out in the bath. You will never understand how it feels to live your life with no meaning or control and with nowhere left to go. You are amazed that they exist and they burn so bright, while you can only wonder why

  75. Blast, found something IRL to do and I missed Ms Phillips on R4!

  76. Keeping away from that Melanie Phillips show, Andy. *shudders*

    Qu'ils mangent du brioche, anyone?

  77. Montana quite right, Mitchell doesn't deserve to be hooked up with TG even theoretically.
    Hi andysays and gandolfo.

  78. MsChin:

    If you can’t live without it, it’s just come up on i-player now.

    I’m about to venture in. See you in about 30 minutes…

  79. For the not so faint hearted, Mel Ps show seems to be on iplayer (sorry again overseas posters). There's a picture of a dole office, sorry Jobcentre Plus, which must be in a very posh area 'cos it don't look anything like the ones I've seen. For starters, there's a real bin outside and no visible security staff ..

  80. BTW, it's a series of 2, with - wait for it - 'cleaners & catering staff working on the minimum wage' next week.

  81. hi andy
    yes it was a quote for next week's programme..
    I'm going to listen as it's available now...get back to you.......

  82. MsChin

    "there's a real bin outside and no visible security staff"

    Must be the Hampstead Garden Suburb one then...

  83. well i can get it in italy on the iplayer....done 6mins..one fag and a stiff drink to hand.......

  84. Andy, that quotation reminds me of one from Camus' La Peste (I think). Can't remember the whole thing now, but I think it starts:

    Les hollandais, ah non, ils sont beaucoup moins modernes. Regardez-les, ils jouent aux couteax... (Have tried googling it but no luck.) It goes on to talk about how the little fishies in the Brazilian rivers will clean them to the bone.

    Anyway, obviously I'm wandering a bit now, so it's probably best to retire to my pit. 'Night all.

  85. I've no firsthand knowledge of this Phillips woman, but from what I gather, I doubt she'll handle the task with quite the sensitivity that Barbara Ehrenreich did for her book Nickled and Dimed.

  86. "Mystery in Spain as dozen Lidl stores each receive thousands of euros worth of cocaine in banana boxes".

    Can I have one of those bananas, please?

  87. I've just heard this on the Radcliffe and Maconie radio programme.

    Here's to a class war that many will say is irrelevant.

  88. Apologies if this is engaging with trolls, but I'd just like to tell Job/Bitey to fuck off. Is that OK?

  89. Ohmyfuckinggod, this woman is making me want to scream. Listening to the Phillips thing on iPlayer now. It would seem that all of the radio iPlayer stuff is available to me, just not TV.

  90. scherfig

    I see that someone is now sporting a blue wig.

  91. LOL scherf.

    I am thinking Slim Shady now :o)

    (Oh - I think Hank already did that one, though. Or was it the 13th Duke with GIYUS?)

    Watching the episode of Fawlty Towers with the "Orelly Men"

    "Which one is man with beard? ... Oh... OK... You are a hideooose orang-utan"


    Need some cheering up. All comedy clips greatfully received. Ta x

  92. Blue wig? Outrageous! My granny's dead now but I'll kill the other fuckers. Who are they?

  93. MOntana - what a horrible way to find out, listening to Mel P.

    And to think in the 80s she wrote for the Graun... what the fuck happened to her?

    Mind you, my hubby was at McGill with Charles Krauthammer and worked on the McGill Daily with him, in the days when Krauthammer was a Trot! Go figure...

  94. MW

    10 minutes into Mel Ps prog and I'm thinking of taking up drinking again. Together with the banana, it might just make me comfortably numb.

  95. BB

    Where is His grace btw? He and Lord S seem to have vanished.

    Gordon Brown now sounding off about the Wooton Bassett/choudary thing - as I said on one of the threads that little toad choudary certainly knows how to wind 'em up and set 'em off. He doesn't need to go anywhere near WB now - jobs done.

  96. On the face of it, Melanie Phillips sounds halfway reasonable, and I’m sure she’s doing her best to come across that way.

    Some of her concerns about people becoming stuck on benefits, both financially and mentally, do address real issues. But ultimately, you can’t avoid the feeling that she’s just softening us up to accept her conclusion that the welfare state should be cut back to the fucking bone.

    And it was a stroke of genius bringing Jim Knight, minister for “Employment and Welfare Reform” in at the end - listening to him makes even Mel P seem reasonable.

    In the end though, the most telling point was that she had no idea why people didn’t have/couldn’t find jobs, and admitted as much.

  97. BB, not sure if this is actually comedy, but it's cult with da kidz now (apparently), and might well be the source of MAM's Chinese tolerance article. Anyway.

    Chinese Xmas

  98. glad i had the drink close to hand ....horrid vile patronising woman this is the next episode of mel meets the cleaners according to gandolfo

  99. but andy she basically put it down to them not being "intellectually capable" or "being unaware" or that people on incapacity benefit were more or less brainwashed into believing they couldn't work......

  100. Andy - agree Mel P didn't sound like her usual petulant, hectoring self - think she was a bit taken aback. I mean she didn't even realise people couldn't afford bus fares. What fucking planet does the old cow live on?


    If you want the full Mel P horror story she has a blog - I think if you just google Melanie Phillips you'll find it. She's a real old school Zionist by the way and coined the word Londonistan I believe.

    PS: she doesn't do 'sensitive'.

  101. sheff / MW

    Mel's on the Spectator website. Approach with care ..

  102. sheff - last we heard, his Grace was snowed in in the Highlands and had a diesel-operated internet. I trust he has managed to get back to civilisation, although given that Fife nearly ran out of road grit, who knows?

    Mel P is a zionist big big stylee, and in quite a hateful way, frankly. But what I really can't stand is the damascene conversion to neo-conservatism - althought the two go hand in hand, viz. Krauthammer previously referenced.

  103. as someone who has watched many chinese movies,,
    which have a deep formality,,that youtube clip is the funniest thing imaginable,,i was in pain watching it,,it is truly brilliant,,there are jokes and references everywhere,,very creative yet deeply formula,,

  104. Scherf - Chinese Xmas is fab! Heheheheh :o)

  105. scherf - Chinese christmas is hilarious - how did you find it? :-))

  106. Well folks, if Peter Chao is your thing, follow da kidz and make him a star!

  107. Montana:

    If you can get BBC radio on i-Player then there’s a whole feast of goodies available.

    From here you can access it all, and if you’re looking for some comedy to get you through the bleak Iowian (?) winter, Radio 7 is a good place to start.

    The Boosh is on now…


    I’m not saying I agree with her, rather that she managed to come across, to some extent, as being concerned about the harm that she argues the welfare state is doing to people in sapping their ability to be more self-reliant.

    There is perhaps a tiny kernel of truth there (people who have been on benefits can find it hard to motivate themselves to break out of that rut, as I myself know), though it’s completely dwarfed by various structural changes in the economy as the reason why so many people are so dependent on the welfare state.

    I suggest that if we are to argue against Melanie and her ilk, we ought to understand properly what she’s saying, and (crucially) why her arguments find supporters.

  108. Hah! Excellent!

    Watching Harry Enfield and Friends, and the Benny Elton sketch has just come on. Forgotten how funny this was. :o)

  109. Interesting how Mel said that she felt the NHS had let someone down, were she in this poor bloke's situation she'd have used her 'middle class elbows' to get better treatment from the NHS - eg: 2nd & 3rd clinical opinions.

    Presumably it's never bloody dawned on her that those who need treatment most get trampled by those who shout loudest in the most articulate voices to get to the front of the NHS queue.

  110. sheff, can't claim to be on the cutting edge of t'internet, it was my son who tipped me off.

    btw, here's a recent amusing and unsurprising (to me) comment on Cif from our late lamented pal, bru:

    Consumerism covers everything, not just sales shopping at Harvey Nicks.

    If everyone cut down their spending drastically, this would affect sales of cars, and household and electrical goods, especially purchases of larger items.

    This in turn would throw thousands of people out of jobs and onto the dole queue. But I'm sure they would be deliriously happy in the knowledge that their frugal life on the jobseeker's allowance is saving the planet.

    Maybe a more primitive style of living is preferable. However perhaps we could ask those in the Third World, who have no choice in the matter, if they would be happier scrambling in the sales or scrabbling for the next bowl of food.

    The real scandal is the huge disparity in living standards between the wealthy nations and the have-nots and a way has to be found to even out the inequality. That means bringing up the poorer countries to our standards, not expecting us to go back to living in some non-existent golden age before World War I when most people lived in cold and draughty houses with few consumer luxuries and a banal attack of bronchitis could carry you off.

    We don't even have to make this stuff up. Selfish fuckers like her with their self-serving twisted logic and egotistic selfishness exist everywhere (cf. my earlier post on the Royal Mail and BAA strikes). Doesn't it remind you of Cameron's spiel? I really do get quite angry sometimes. Well, despairing and angry,really.

  111. @andy
    I understand that you don't agree with her,I was post mel and angry with the terms she uses when she describes people... and yes you're right the way that she comes across could be pretty convincing to those that already have the conviction that the argument is valid, and therefore, perpetuates the myth that the majority of people on benefits are scroungers.
    The people that tend to follow these arguments IMO are those that see "their" taxes as something personal to them and should be spent on things that are needed by them or their family, not benefit scroungers or money wasting institutions.

  112. 'Despairing and angry', that's us.


    Yep, only interested in whether their bins are emptied not whether the elderly neighbour they haven't seen for the last 3 months is dead.

  113. gandolfo - can you not get R4 through the 'puter? it's what I live on, frankly. just wish the iplayer worked for TV programmes.

    heard trails for the phillips thing earlier so am now watching ER on dvd to avoid her...

  114. Ah well, enough of all this frivolity! I'm off to bed - this work ethic business is a killer. Goodnight.

  115. phillipa
    i can get radio programmes but not live, normally delayed by about an hour, no TV on t'puter though..my life changed when i finally got broadband and could listen to radio4!!! I'd really like to see TV but in order to get the BBC here you have to go through the sky platform and murdoch ain't getting one € cent from me not over my dead body....

  116. night mschin...know the feeling just as well i don't have to go to work tomorrow and strangely my work ethic has diminished since living here ;)

  117. Time to switch off the computer for the night.

    Just hope I don’t have nightmares after listening to Mel P…

  118. night andy...
    sometimes i do wonder wtf is going on in the world anyway a bit of marvin

  119. BeautifulBurnout on CiF this evening:

    "I am sorry Nancy, but you are wrong. Whether he felt their religion was insulted or not is a little bit beside the point. It doesn't justify the actions taken by a nutter in breaking into the chap's house and trying to kill him."

    BeautifulBurnout on The Untrusted 27 December 2009

    "One thing that is interesting about bitey under his new nick is the racism, though. I hadn't really spotted it before, but now it is pretty clear that he holds no truck with Muslims - be they "honour" killers or hit-and-run drivers."

    Or, might I suggest, axe wielding would be assassins of cartoonists?

    Care to change your mind on the racism accusation Mrs Burnout?

  120. If everybody's gone to bed, I'll tell you now that grown men cry and Irish girls are pretty. Couldn't find that one, here's sunshine on Leith, instead.

  121. Just been outside for a smoke, here in Manchester. There was a lovely flurry of soft snow that tipp-exed over this grey mistake of a city. It looks quite nice, hope it lasts for an hour or two.

  122. Habib,
    Yo, how ya doing son?
    I'm kinda stuck on a painting here and you are the only one I can turn to.
    Can you find me a bit of Wagner? you may not be familiar but it's the one where the fat bird rides her horse into the flames at the end.
    We are talking a snow scene here so it may be apposite, you know, horned hats, fuckin' chilly out. That's the kind of vibe I seek.
    Anyway mate I know you will do your best and I will clock it tomorrow as a good start to the day.
    For now I must hit the sack while I am still capable of finding it.
    Sorry about your woman trouble but you seem to be a well set up lad and if you don't soon find a decent relationship I hope you find many oportunities to get your end away with no unpleasant come backs.

  123. Montana,
    What can I tell you girl? wish you were here!

  124. Col, Isolde was fairly chunky. I'm not much of a muse, but sometimes when I'm stuck writing, I kick down a door in my heart that hasn't often been opened.

  125. One last introspective song. I'll try to find a happy one for the day ahead.