08 February 2010


A doctor in Salem, Massachusetts, suggested that two daughters of the local pastor might be suffering from bewitchment in 1692, setting off the hysteria that led to the Salem Witch Trials.  The Devil's Footprints mysteriously appeared in the Devon snow in 1855.  D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation premiered in 1915 and the city of Melbourne was enveloped in a 320m-deep dust cloud in 1983.

Born today:  Samuel Butler (1612-1680), John Ruskin (1819-1900), Jules Verne (1828-1905), Kate Chopin (1850-1904), Lana Turner (1921-1995), Jack Lemmon (1925-1901), Neal Cassady (1926-1968), James Dean (1931-1955) and Trinny Woodall (1964).

It is Preseren Day in Slovenia.


  1. The Paisley witch trials followed in 1696; seven were convicted, one committed suicide and the other six were burned - there is a wee memorial here


    Happy Preseren day (whatever it may be) to fellow slovens!

  2. Should add, The Birth of a Nation must be one of the most pernicious movies ever made; it sparked the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan (who were moribund at the time) and reinforced the irritating southern white obsession with what they took to be Scottish culture.

  3. Edwin

    It marks the anniversary of the death of the poet France PreŇ°eren on February 8, 1849. He's considered the greatest poet in the Slovenian language apparently. (according to wikipedia)

    I'm more than happy to celebrate a poet - in fact we need more poetic celebrations...

  4. Craig Murray is very interesting on Alastair Campbel's performane 9and it was a performance) yesterday wihich some of us spoke about y'day.
    "I was watching the Andrew Marr show when Alistair Campbell broke down, apparently overcome that anybody could doubt the integrity of Tony Blair.

    A minute later Andrew Marr asked him if he were not troubled by the 800.000 deaths following the invasion of Iraq, and Campbell snapped back:

    "You can't prove that".

    It was a very revealing riposte. Not only did it contradict the tearful innocent demeanour, it revealed the mindset of the guilty. Innocent people in the throes of deep emotion shout out "That's not true". They don't shout out "You can't prove that".

    "You can't prove that" is the riposte of the criminal who thinks he is too clever to be caught. It actually answered the question perfectly - no, Campbell never thinks about the Iraqis whose deaths he helped to cause.

    Marr's estimate was pretty conservative, but that's not the point. The point is that Campbell was intimately involved in the policy decision not to estimate or comment upon any estimates of civilian casualties in Iraq, precisely to give the "You can't prove that" defence."

  5. Oh thanks very much Sheff, he was really quite prolific (and melancholy) it seems - there are audio readings on the net (by Simon Callow) including this one

    A Wreath of Sonnets (4/14)
    V. de Sola

    Read by:

    These tear-stained flowers of a poet's mind,
    Culled from my bosom, lay it wholly bare;
    My heart's a garden: Love is sowing there
    Sad elegies each with my longing signed.

    You are their sun whose radiance, purblind,
    I seek in vain at home and everywhere,
    In theatre, on promenade and square,
    Midst revels where the chains of dancers wind.

    How often through the town with watchful eyes
    I wander, praying for a fate more kind,
    Yet catch no glimpse of that elusive prize.

    I shed my tears to loneliness confined:
    Hence all these songs which from my love arise;
    They come from where no man can sunshine find.

    Will listen to them later - Callow is a great reader.

  6. I was in that dust cloud in Melbourne. Well you couldn't escape it: it was in my flat, ash everywhere from fires 70 miles away. It was pitch black at 2pm, prompting a paranoid American friend to ask if there had a been a nuclear war. We had ash in our clothes, our hair up our noses in our living rooms. It was truly bizarre and eerie yet quite beautiful in its own way

    Alistair Campbell is an arch manipulator but not a very good one. My feeling on watching him yesterday is that this is a man who is not happy with himself and at times probably hates himself, hence his inappropriate reactions. I think this facade of head kicker he has cultivated is killing him inside. I hope it is actually.

  7. Good catch AlisdairCameron. I didn't beleive the performance was at all about any real inner turmoil or angst.

    Made me think he must haver watched that episode where Malcolm Tucker is on the ropes and thought "good angle".

    The tosser.

  8. Afternoon all

    Just been having a really stupid conversation with the tax people. "Can you tell me xyz?" "Well, no I can't because it varies - I can only give an estimate" "Well can you tell me that?" "Yes I can, it's abc" "And is that the actual xyz?" "No I just fucking told you you silly cow that it was a fucking estimate".

    Actually I didn't say that last sentence, or at least not in that way. But I wanted to sooooo badly.

    Oh well

    Campbell - behaving like a naughty child who has been caught out. The grief is the genuine grief of the crim who has been caught. Not grieving because he committed an offence, but grieving because he was convinced he had got away with it and now has to accept that he will be convicted. I see it a lot in my line of work.

    It's snowing a bit here and, unlike last time, I am now well prepared with 60 kilos of rock salt... except I dunno whether it is worth putting some of it down yet or waiting until it starts snowing a bit harder as it is not settling, it seems.

    Decisions decision.... :o)

  9. Hello Everybody! Staying home with a sick child today. Between snow days and sick days, I don't remember the last time I put in a full week of work. Pathetic, isn't it?


    I haven't properly welcomed you yet. Sorry and glad you made it over. So: welcome to the shadowy cabal. The initiation rites aren't half as scary as some would have you believe.


    I hope you realise that, by including BoaN in the events today, I wasn't endorsing its content.

  10. Hey Montana

    Hope the nipper gets better soon. Still haven't decided if I should use any of my valuable stock of road salt yet... as soon as I heard the forecast I nipped down to the only builder's merchants round here that seems to stock it because they completely ran out the last time.

    Maybe I should have put a deposit on their entire stock and entered the Rock Salt Options Market? I'm sure I would make a good capitalist! :p

  11. My battle with procrastination goes badly - yet again.

    "Alistair Campbell is an arch manipulator but not a very good one."

    He is also a Burnley supporter and reputedly a recovering alcoholic - it must be fucking hell for him when his visits Turf Moor and what mates he's got left take their pies with a blast of Benedictine......eat your dick, twathead.

    I do like to think of evil twisted bastards, like him, being punished in this life.

    So it's thanks to Duke for more information on the Burnley habit.(it made my day yesterday) I'll never hear a Burnley result again without smiling.

    Hope the lad feels better soon Montana

  12. Welcome Ms Robinson, some good posts at CIF lately, nice to see you over here.

    "My battle with procrastination goes badly - yet again."

    Its a lifelong struggle, Deano, i do cif when i should be working, then i get home and play games when i should be doing uni work, my entire life is now a battle against procrastination (which i invariably lose).

  13. 'I hope you realise that, by including BoaN in the events today, I wasn't endorsing its content.'

    NOOOOOOOOOOO! Of course not. It's a classic film - repugnant though it is, with a huge (and hugely bad) social effect. It has to be noted.

    Hole your lad's feeling better

  14. (Look away now, Hank)

    What did you make of the weekends games Thaum? We managed another win without actually playing any rugby (other than the two tries themselves, we just hoofed downfield), which does spoil the enjoyment slightly...

    Looking quite close this year though, I may put a bet on Ireland, gives me something to hope for other than an England win (which is pretty unlikely these days).

  15. BB - "Actually I didn't say that last sentence, or at least not in that way. But I wanted to sooooo badly."

    Oh I do like a woman with discipline.

  16. Re Procrastination, the trick is to use it as a spur. If I don't have a deadline, I fart about on here and browse Cif and Bookride and Tom Harris until guilt drives me back to what I should be doing - then I go and make a cup of tea and watch Bargain Hunt!

  17. Edwin, remember.

    Procrastination is like masturbation. In the end, you're just screwing yourself.

  18. Have to say I was in bits watching the rugby yesterday, because I used to do so religiously with my dad (and he had Flower of Scotland played at the crem) either at my folks' place or at Murrayfield itself. Kept looking over to his (empty) chair. My brother was at the game (myself and the missus are staying with my Mum to see she's okay) and I know he was torn up too.

  19. I'm not sure about that Duke - with a fair wind there is an end to masturbation, there is no end to my procrastination. There are days, many days, when I fear it may be terminal.

  20. Jay, not a very impressive start to the tournament. Ireland didn't even turn up. Eng/Wales was sloppy as hell (AWJ will be doing penance for quite a while!), but it was quite an exciting match. Scotland/France looked better, but it wasn't the same watching it on iPlayer.

    Alisdair, it's always the first this-or-that that's rough, isn't it? My sympathies.

  21. I was going to post something about procrastination too, but I can't be bothered right now....

    I'll get my coat...

    Alisdair - big hugs. I still have a wee greet when they play Flower o' Scotland for the same reasons. Used to be a real battle in our house on Calcutta Cup day.

    The coming year will be a year of "firsts" for you, mate. But you will get through them. Much love x

  22. Thank you for kind welcome. Initiation? It's not like a bikers club where I have to sleep with everyone is it? Or is that a football club. Anyway knowing that you would have done so I made myself a Bakewell Tart and ate a slice to welcome myself.

    @deano30 Procrastination is a fine art. It is a positive activity though: when people ask me what I am doing I say I am actively NOT WRITING. Not to be confused with not writing.

  23. Well, at least I'm glad I can come here and chew the fat (now Chewing the Fat was funny, but never made it Sth of the border...)over the Six Nations. There are aren't any rabid Twickers/rah-rah/fair-weather England supporters here are there...?

  24. Alisdair - hang on in here friend.

    There is eventually a kind a of joy in such pains. You do someday come to recognise that you only have the pain 'cos you once had the privilege of the pleasure.

    Daft as it sounds that realisation one day becomes a comfort and finally in itself a great pleasure.

    As I think I said when I heard of your loss my long gone parents now seem to have a special place sitting quietly on my shoulder and popping into my consciousness at appropriate times.

  25. Alisdair,

    in rugby terms you can console yourself with the fact that your Dad got to see Scotland's glory rugby days.

    I pay minimal attention to rugby, but it's clear that Scottish rugby is on a continuous downward trajectory. Not as steep a downward trajectory as Scottish Football mind.....

    I wish you all the best mate.

    Having some chuckles at the Francis Maude civil service thread. It's the bare faced lies that I find particularly amusing.

    The politicisation of the civil service is another classic example of Blair merely running with and accelerating the nefarious policies initiated by Thatcher and the Tories.

  26. BB - we're getting the same rubbish here, but luckily it's not settling (yet).

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Alisdair

    Hugs to you. Moments like the one you described are a bit heart stopping. I still miss my lovely Pa, (he died 11 years ago this month), but the real sharp sense of loss has gradually abated. It takes time but the memory of him is mainly very fond now - although I have regrets about not being a better daughter.

  29. Hard to imagine you not being a delightful and civil daughter Sheff.

  30. deano

    I allowed the bad relationship with my mother to get in the way and it caused him pain - which I will eternally regret. He was a loving and kind man and deserved better.

  31. Good afternoon, all.

    Having just lived for 24 hours without electricity, I am considering moving to a yurt and just living, you know, really being with nature and...

    fuck that.

    entire main connector system went yesterday and we discovered the main fuses dated back to, and I'm being kind here, the 1950s. so had to wait until today when the letting agency was open to ask them if they wanted either 1) me to replace the fuses, in which case, where was the nearest antique shop, or 2) might they want to instal a main connector that actually met building regs.

    So they sent an electrican round, who's initial response on seeing the thing was (polite translation) "by george, what on earth is this? my word..." and told me to call EDF.

    who sent round a chap clearly auditioning for 'fastest talking person in france', who replaced a thingy, swore a lot, pulled something else, swore some more, flicked several switches, and then all the lights came back on.

    on the upside, finished a le carre, read a michele guittari and have started on the final stieg larsson, all by candlelight, so am feeling very bookish but have rather a headache...

  32. having got that out of my system, my apologies for crashing the vibe...

    first grand prix after my grandpa died, i was unaccountably in floods of tears. i don't even like formula 1. but i had such memories of watching it with him as a child and him telling me all about 'the glory days'...

    hang in there, alisdair

    (and I was being a traitorous english pro-welsher on saturday, as my welsh mate looked like he needed the support. but mainly i read his paper.)

  33. MsRobinson. - I think it was a male namesake of yours that observed "...I'm not not writing, I'm just thinking about how much easier it would be if only I had an electric typewriter..." or some-such time filling thought.

    I wouldn't wish to frighten you away since you have only just comfortably joined us - but putting the idea of a sexual initiation and Bakewell tart into my mind in the same paragraph is cruel and not at all wise.

    That's me fegged and procrastinating for the next week or so. There is no finer past-time for a retired tramp than daydreaming of tasty tarts.


  34. ps - they put my 'sandwich' piece in the G-weakly recently, but forgot to tweak it to suit the new format - like referring to 'this' which lead to a link on CIF but was just a word in print...

    although they did remove all references to the UK women's dress-sizing system, which suggests that an editor was involved at some point. made me laugh, that...

  35. MsRobinson
    "I am actively NOT WRITING. Not to be confused with not writing"

    God, I'm having that one....

  36. Wow PB - your fame grows and long may it continue to do so.

    Sheff - a life without the experience of family pain ain't much of a life and the idea that a fathers pain might later be visited on his daughter is I am sure one that your dad would have wished rejected.

  37. deano - heh heh - at least I now have tangible evidence that once I wrote (for free) for a national newspaper, just in case in the aftermath of the general election there is civil unrest and they turn off the internet or something...

  38. That's a fine thing to have young PB.

    By way of reassurance - if I'm appointed as a Commissar after the GE I will leave word at the borders that you shall be allowed to pass back despite your work for the Guard. Meanwhile they, the bastards, shall pay with their necks for their misguided parsimony.

  39. Glad to see that you have come to admire Jack thauma - silence is regarded as consent around here.

  40. Oh thauma my lovely I thought I had won a convert.

  41. Bloody snow is starting to settle.

    Away off home now, hooray!

  42. can't find it on youtube (presume new single) but - gil scott heron "new york is killing me" is awesome....
    seek it out, peeps...

  43. Just had news that all hell let loose at Yarlswood asylum detention centre, which now seems to be completely locked down, 18/20 women have been in the yard since 12:00 pm, no outdoor clothing, intermittent snow.

    About 70 women locked into one of the corridors, no open windows, sounds of distress coming over the phone. Massive police presence. Nothing on news.

  44. Where you getting the news from Sheff - local network/contacts?

    Sounds grim, they getter harder and harder in responses to disquiet and have done ever since the miners. Bastards.

  45. I copy/pasted your news on the Jack Straw thread et al Sheff.

  46. deano

    Getting it from campaigning contacts. 84+ women have been on hunger strike since 5th Feb and it all seems to have blown up today. Conditions in Yarlswood are grim indeed.

    Theres a resolution on the detention of asylum seekers and irregular immigrants going before the Council of Europe, parliamentary assembly. You can read it here:

    The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe Resolution 1707 (2010)1

  47. This comment has been removed by the author.

  48. Sheff, unbelievable! It's fucking freezing here, so probably worse up north.

    Philippa, GSH's whole new album is on the Guardian website.

  49. Posted the following on WDYWT

    ".....Just had news that all hell let loose at Yarlswood asylum detention centre, which now seems to be completely locked down, 18/20 women have been in the yard since 12:00 pm, no outdoor clothing, intermittent snow.

    About 70 women locked into one of the corridors, no open windows, sounds of distress coming over the phone. Massive police presence. Nothing on news.

    as at 17:38 8/2/10

    Sounds like a piece from BB would be welcome.

    The Guard should send her to investigate."

  50. Sheff - I won't keep copying and pasting on the Guard- it makes it easier for them to remove them all quickly if they are all in the same name.

    (Nothing to stop others doing so on different threads to get the news out though)??!!

    Is it an organised/spontanious response to the Euro resolution?

  51. just meantioned on the news
    "a group of conservative evangelical anglicans"

    are there any scarier three-adjective groups we can think of? think of it as 'nutcase cribbage'. I'll go first

    "a group of mock-tudor organic environmentalists"

  52. silly season has definitely kicked in...
    "a zoo in Gaza that painted two donkeys black and white and passed the off as zebras, is to close..."

  53. I'm not sure Deano as I've been a bit out of the campaigning loop lately. but have now plugged myself back in so will keep you posted. I know conditions in Yarlswood are awful, particularly for women with children and the calibre of the staff isn't very high according to what I'm hearing - so you can imagine.

    Medical professionals have already said that the conditions are totally unsuitable for children and lead to serious psychological problems in many cases.

  54. Yarl's Wood is terrible, from what I hear - I have never visited there, but I know it is way down the scale compared to Tinsley House here at Gatwick, and I have visited Tinsley on several occasions and it is pretty dire.

    The UKBA are only supposed to detain people if their removal is "imminent" - the fact that these women have been on hunger strike for 4 days already shows clearly that their removal was not "imminent" at the time they were detained.

    The bad news is that since January, the UKBA have amended their removal rules to allow them to remove without notice people who might be considered a danger to themselves or others, and so they could quite easily bundle these women on a to a plane in the morning "for their own good". Bastards. (Present company excepted)

  55. Just picked this up via Google - tweet from Afua Hirsch an hour ago:
    "just spoke to woman on hungerstrike at Yarl's Wood. Women fainting in coridoors, locked outdoors, whole center on lockdown. sounds like hell"

    and another tweet 15 mins ago, from NCADC:
    "Yarls Wood: More reports of force being used against detainees. Whats going on? Peaceful protest. Why the aggressive reaction?"

  56. "Whats going on? Peaceful protest. Why the aggressive reaction?"

    Because they can, and nobody much will care either, especially not the Sun and Daily Mail reading hordes.


  57. "since January, the UKBA have amended their removal rules to allow them to remove without notice people who might be considered a danger to themselves or others"
    I continue to boggle helplessly at this kind of orwellian horseshit....

  58. This comment has been removed by the author.

  59. Detained two years?!! Two fucking years!

    Has she actually got a legal rep? What the fuck are they doing?!!!!!! GRrrrrrrrrrr....

  60. On second thoughts - not the women's mobile numbers - given some of the nutters on cif.

  61. Oh Pip, tell me about it. If you are detained for removal, the normal rules give you 72 hours - yes, that's all - in which to get in contact with a rep and get an application for judicial review and an order preventing them from removing you until the JR has been heard.

    Now all they have to do is say "well, they were threatening to self-harm and we thought it was in their own best interest to remove them straight away" and bob's your uncle. Try proving they lied afterwards, and getting them flown back....


  62. I was literally running around the High Court one morning like a blue-arsed fly - first in the building as soon as the door opened - to get a judge to sign off an injunction for someone who was due on a flight at 11.10am. I managed it with about half an hour to spare, but I swear I was almost in tears of frustration as I was waiting for the nod.

  63. Actually Sheff, I wonder if it would be a good idea to delete your post here and just repost the Yarls Wood number instead? We get some nutters lurking on here too....

  64. This comment has been removed by the author.

  65. Done

    Yarl's wood number: Yarl's Wood phone number 01234 821800 -please feel free to phone in and ask whats going on.

  66. BB - did you see the Bingham piece?

    < Iraq War illegal says Lord Bingham

    Fancy doing a book review for us on CIF BB ? - I wouldn't suggest it there if it's not your bag.


    I'll send all the women with mobiles a text of support and good wishes.

  67. Well I would have done, but I was sadly too slow - I can see the sense of not leaving the numbers up though.

  68. Lord Bingham is a star. I will have a read of that, deano. x

  69. I read that Bingham article Deano - seems like a decent bloke in an indecent position.

    yes, I'm sure the women would welcome all the support they can get.

  70. The other one I dote on is Lord Justice Sedley. I don't agree with everything he says, but he comes up with the best rulings in immigration and asylum matters.

  71. I know that freedom of movement rules are different for non-EU people but surely there's some discrimination case to be brought if 'self harm' is an acceptable ground for forced removal.

    I mean, Kevin from Abergavenny moves to Watford and slits his wrists - can he be deported back to Abergavenny? Fuck no...

    What is there in the rules that actually allows that?

    Hirsch has a piece up but it's sketchy - and has to include HO cover:
    "All detainees are treated with dignity and respect, with access to legal advice and heath care facilities"

    wonder how that spoeksperson would define 'dignity' and 'respect' from their own perspective, rather than that of a couple of annoying coloured people...

  72. Pip

    The whole policy of the UKBA is driven by the front page of the Daily Mail - hell, I have even used that as an argument in a deportation case I had recently.

    The legislation has allowed the UKBA to create the Immigration Rules, which are largely the main bit of secondary legislation we have to deal with every day.

    The Immigration Rules can be amended at any time simply by the Minister making an announcement of the amendment in parliament - no scrutiny, no voting, no oversight to speak of. But the Rules are defined in broadish brush strokes, so you then have the UKBA's own internal procedures and policies which they are supposed to abide by - and the change to the 72 hour rule has come about as an amendment to a policy rather than an amendment to the Rule (or to any of the relevant Acts).

    Layer upon machiavellian layer of rules and regulations. Fortunately I am such a geek when it comes to the law that I really do enjoy going through pages and pages of them, together with the various authorities from case law, until I find the lacuna I can use to make a case - one sentence that will make or break an application.

    I am a bit dysfuntional like that, really.

  73. Pip - I can't seem to find Hirsch's piece - a linky would be most welcome.

  74. BB

    I am a bit dysfuntional like that, really.

    thank god you are, necessary in your job. I wish I was more like that - but reams of ukba rules, regs and guidance tend to make my brain glaze over.

  75. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/feb/08/hunger-strike-women-detention-yarls-wood-protest
    on the news pages

  76. Thanks, gals! I am so CiF oriented that I didn't think to look on the news pages. D'oh!

  77. BB - I heartily second Sheff's "thank god you are".

    ps *whispers* I think I remember Philippa saying she doesn't like the abbreviation 'Pip' very much.

  78. Oh, and very interesting post on forced vs arranged marriages on Waddya. It goes slightly against the anecdotal evidence I've seen, which has actually been mostly with blokes: lad in 20s, starting a career, goes to India for a holiday, comes back married to someone he'd never met before.

    The few I've known have not really seemed unhappy with this arrangement, it must be said, but it seems odd to us here. And also I don't think they'd ever let on if they *were* unhappy with it.

  79. So the 'rules' aren't even SIs? barking. but good luck with that - and sometimes you get lucky (there have been a couple of HMRC examples of 'careless drafting' equivalent to 'thou shalt commit adultery' in an early edition of the KJ Bible)

    pip = nasty bit of an orange.
    just sayin', like.
    heh heh

  80. Ha ha ha, Philippa, I'd forgotten about the 'shalt commit adultery' typo! Bit of a dilemma for those who believe that anything printed with 'Bible' on its name is the divine word of god....

  81. Have just read the Afua Hirsch article on Yarl's Wood.

    "The wellbeing of detainees is of paramount concern, which is why healthcare staff are at the scene to monitor developments," said David Wood, strategic director at the UK Border Agency. "The detainees will be integrated back into the centre at the earliest opportunity."

    Oh yes? So why do the women complain of no medical treatment, including an asthma sufferer and one who had nearly severed her finger?

    Someone mentioned that YW is a PFI institution, I think. If this isn't a good enough reason to get rid of private companies running what ought to be public institutions, I don't know what is.

    Just fucking disgusting. Can't even go into the trauma of the women who are victims of rape and/or other torture.

  82. Oh god, Tower of Commons channel 4, MPs roughing it on estates. Started with a quote by Gordon Brown that has had me in fits:

    "Listening to Arctic Monkeys really wakes you up in the morning."

    Could you imagine a more scripted, contrived, absurd comment? Picture Brown doin his camera smile and saying that line, i cant stop laughing...

  83. Thaum

    When you consider the number of marriages that fail in the UK when we have chosen our spouses through "lurve" (or should that be lust? I know that was the only driver for my first marriage) who's to say whether getting his parents and her parents to find someone suitable would be any worse?

    Forced marriage is another kettle of fish altogether, but, as I say, of the arranged marriages I have come across, I don't think there has been one where they didn't know each other pretty well before hand, and also have regular internet and phone contact before the wedding.

  84. BB - not a problem, really - it's 'pippa' that really annoys me...

    "Listening to Arctic Monkeys really wakes you up in the morning."
    What? That's like five years back when every MP needing some media time was blithering on aout the Kaiser Chiefs. When they all did that 'what's on your ipod?' thingy, I have to admit I had most respect for the aged Tory toff who said he didn't have one, and preferred classical music.

  85. Yeah, but, aimee, I bet Gordon looks good on the dancefloor....

    I'll get me coat...

  86. aimee

    Noes - politicians 'living' on our estates, I can't take it!

  87. BB - totally agree, actually: arranged marriages seem to be just as successful, if not more so, than "oh, we're in love" ones. Although I suspect that a lot of marriages that fall in the latter category are not so much about love but about some sort of security trade-off: she'll do my washing and he'll earn the money sort of thing.

    Then hard reality hits, as they've both been pretending to be in love, but find that their assumptions about what married life would be like aren't bearing up.

    Posed the cynic.

    Me, I think the marriage age should be about 65 or so.

  88. I don't suppose that there's any point in pointing out that when a large number of 'arranged marriages' involve bringing a spouse from overseas to a different country with a different language and culture, with subsequent British citizenship, then the comparison with the number of failed 'Western marriages for love' is totally ridiculous?

  89. Philippa and Stud

    Superb repartit on the Superbowl sexist thread. Still laughing here. :o)

  90. scherf

    Well, it depends on whether you think that they are doing it just so they can get citizenship, or whether you think that they are just marrying a "nice girl/boy from back home". There are people in both camps. But it's allowed.

  91. Clarification: there are people in both camps = there are marriages that fall into both classifications.

  92. 'arranged', to work in the way thauma describes, have to be mutually consensual by the parties at all stages. done not because 'that's what mum wants' but because that's what they want. andd with the freedom to walk away.

    the few people i know who've taken that step have either been gay (his poor wife, when she found out she was basically an alibi) or claiming that it made more sense to be sensible than 'risk love'. and then bursting into tears because they wanted love.

    mild blind spot on this, i'm afraid...

    and hello aimee!

  93. Well, scherf, yes and no. It's a good point, but if you measure a successful marriage by how satisfied both partners are with the arrangement, then ... we're pretty much left with anecdotal evidence.

  94. BB - am currently watching Avatar in three minute chunks between buffering and am getting very confused by life. any outlet is welcome...

  95. My friends have formed a panel to determine who I can go out with: apparently I think too much about love and passion and need to ask the *right* questions. Since they feel I am unable to ask them they are going to do it for me. They are called the Four Mummies.

    I am not sure what consitutes arranged - is it an introduction? In which case I suppose those who date via internet are arranged.

  96. MsRobinson - my friends have given up on me.

    Mind you, it all seems to be going right in the current case!

  97. On arranged marriages, yes they can be very successful as several people I know can attest. Where there is trust in the parents to make the right choice for them, where the couple can meet and then make their own minds up about whether they like one another & take it from there - that's fine with me.

    Arranged marriages can involve bringing someone from the home country either immediately or up to several years after the marriage. If it's years after, there will usually be children. But scherf is right, marriages do take place between couples who are not well-matched educationally etc, and this can lead to conflict between them and yes, sometimes domestic violence. Girls & lads who have gained Masters degrees here are expected to wed someone who has not had their opportunities in life & sometimes this is because the parents committed to the arrangement before the children were born. It can be a tragedy for both parties in the marriage.

  98. Thaum - I'm glad for you. I am on sabbatical:) It is after all the month of February, that endless cross country run of greyness.

  99. The Four Mummies are interviewing your prospective(s), MsRobinson?

    If the poor blighter can get past the interview stage ... are you sure they aren't just wanting to share him with you?

  100. MsRobinson - heh heh - I don't so much have a panel as a steering committee.

    She's a doll, though, so I'm not arguing with them for the time being...

  101. The only arranged marriage I have personal knowledge of was a close Indian friend of mine - second generation English Indian, and she married a second generation English Indian. She was very unsure about the whole thing, she didn't even really know the guy when she married him, but familial pressure was effective and happily it worked out for them. I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be for young Indian, Pakistani, Turkish etc women and men to be whisked halfway across the world to an alien culture to marry a person they don't know at all. But it's 'arranged', not 'forced', right? My friend Parminder was quite eloquent on the semantics and practicalities of forced/arranged marriages. But the liberal looks at all this through a 'liberal' prism, and really knows fuck all about the realities of it. It's something to be desired and encouraged because it 'seems' right (and right on). I can't help but feel that a tacit acceptance of these marriages is doing nobody any favours. Western feminists are happy to endorse such practises, but if they were forced themselves to marry someone that their father chose for them, they'd just say 'Fuck off!' But it's apparently OK for others. Cultural, innit?

  102. Blast! I can't post on Waddya to let Hermione know that YW was sheff's shout, not mine. Sorry sheff, you're the hero, not I.

    CiFs been acting weird & wobbly all night, so I've signed out & am off to me bed. Night.

  103. Phillipa, can I annoy you a bit? (although it's not that bad.)

    Robert Browning - 'Pippa Passes'

    Worship whom else ? For am I not, this day,
    Whate'er I please ? What shall I please to-day ?
    My morning, noon, eve, night how spend my day ?
    To-morrow I must be Pippa who winds silk,
    The whole year round, to earn just bread and milk :
    But, this one day, I have leave to go,
    And play out my fancy's fullest games ;
    I may fancy all day and it shall be so
    That I taste of the pleasures, am called by the names
    Of the Happiest Four in our Asolo !

  104. My little anecdote about arranged marriages:

    A long time ago, there was an Indian doctor here whose parents came to stay with him for awhile. Theirs had been an arranged marriage and the first time they laid eyes on each other was their wedding day (or, one of the days of their wedding. I think they tend to be multi-day affairs?).

    Anyway, I met said couple at a community dinner and they were so cute together it wasn't even funny. They held hands and teased each other and acted like a couple of infatuated teenagers. I commented to the woman at one point that they were lucky that they'd fallen in love over the years.

    Her reply was, "Oh, my dear! Luck had nothing to do with it. We could either learn to love each other or be miserable for the rest of our lives. It was so much easier to learn to love each other."

    That said, I do think scherfig's got a point.

  105. @MsChin@PhillipaB I am in the throes of a depression right now - part of my life I'm afraid - so truthfully I am happiest with children (other people's) and animals right now. They cause no trouble, are safe and relatively non-toxic.

    That Superbowl article was utter stupid tosh. WTF

  106. scherf - as my other option is the Beautiful South's 'Song for Whoever'*, I will graciously accept that one!

    *not linking to it, it's annoying

  107. Scherf

    My dad's partner is from the Philippines. Long story short, he met her when he was out there - she is a family member of a friend of his. She spends about 5 months a year here, and he spends about 5 mths a year over there. If they decide to marry, which is on the cards, one or other of them will have to be whisked away from their own culture and into another strange one where they hardly speak the language. OK, there is the choice thing that comes into play more in their relationship, but other than that, what is the difference between the two scenarios?

  108. MsR - ay, when I clicked on it was expecting another focus on focus on the family - was a bit puzzled by the 'subject matter' he'd concentrated on. felt like coming on as Samantha Bee from the Daily Show last week, who went to see a 'masculinity group' meeting
    "Hey! Vagina Men! You're turning me into a lesbian!"


    Hope depression lifts soon - believe me, you're with fellow travellers here, just beep if you need us...

  109. scherf

    I understand what you're saying about tacit acceptance but wouldn't it be better if change come from within the culture itself? I accept that familial pressure is the big barrier to ending the practice, but the family ties stretch across continents & family reputation is all in these communities. Would the full force of the law here change anything overnight in these circumstances? I don't think so.

  110. "We could either learn to love each other or be miserable for the rest of our lives. It was so much easier to learn to love each other."

    Of course - 'learn to love' or 'miserable for the rest of our lives'. No other possibility. No separation. No divorce. No options. A simple binary either/or scenario. Like it or lump it, you've got no choice. Fuck that. Would anyone here on this blog accept such a constraint on their personal freedom? And if not, why is it OK for others?

  111. Although i don't really bang on about it, our marriage was arranged by our children. (time machine accident?)

  112. MsR

    Stick with children & animals, until you feel able to manage a human again. Depression has been a recurring conversation round here so you're in good company.

  113. @scherfig It's appalling. I agree with you. As my mum says it's like people saying the women who are forced the wear the Burka have freedom 'we don't have'. Sure.

    @philippaB thanks re depression. It's a bad, long one a couple of months now and those damn moving men keep shifting the furniture around in my brain. I have paid them but they won't leave. Night.

  114. scherf

    Some Indian-sub-continent marriages do end in divorce. The bangladeshi bloke I was talking about earlier who was forced into a marriage, his wife had been married before and divorced. Maybe it was a generational thing with the couple Montana met.

    My friend Eileen, whose parents are Irish Catholics, went for three years with her parents not talking to her because she was going out with a divorced man. One day her parents' priest came to see her and explained that, as far as her parents were concerned, what she was doing was no worse than if she had cut someone's head off. She is only in her early 40s now so I am talking 10 years ago, not 30 or 40.

    Eventually they gave in and turned up to the wedding with the rest of the family, and things sorted themselves out, but interference of this kind is not something that is unique to the indian sub continent.

    Would I put up with someone telling me who to marry? Of course not. And I am 100% against people being forced to marry someone else. But if they are happy for their parents to arrange the marriage for them, and it is a matter of them being allowed to choose whether to enter into that marriage or not, that is up to them. Who am I to say that my way of going about things is better than theirs?

  115. mschin, you surely have noticed that I have said nothing about the 'full force of the law'. That doesn't really interest me regarding this topic, and so I haven't discussed it.

    BB 'what is the difference between the two scenarios?' You know yourself what the difference is - freely made adult choice. I myself chose to move to another 'culture' and another country and I learnt a foreign language which I didn't speak. Why did I do it? Because my family arranged it? Because I was forced to? No, I did it for love. You are being disingenuous, BB, and you know it. :0)

  116. scherfig

    Because I agree with you in principle but principles are hard to live by when you know someone could die or suffer being outcast from their family & community as a result? It has to be their choice, you can only educate, empower & inspire someone to make that choice. I've worked in this field so my judgement is always going to be biased, I'm afraid.

  117. Been afk for the weekend, my sister has had two arranged marriages. Both a vale of tears. I arranged my own marriage,ditto. Still, I'm very lucky at poker....

  118. Ah, cross posted with you, scherf.

  119. turminder

    But there was a way out, that didn't involve 'loss of face' for the family? That's the other point here, it is possible to separate in some cases, you are not necessarily tied for life.

  120. "those damn moving men keep shifting the furniture around in my brain"
    mine tend to put up signs saying "you should have done this" or "you aren't any good at that". I try to ignore them but they get in the way when I'm hoovering. the bastards.

    searching for this band generated some interesting results....

  121. But if they are happy for their parents to arrange the marriage for them, and it is a matter of them being allowed to choose whether to enter into that marriage or not, that is up to them. Who am I to say that my way of going about things is better than theirs?

    Ha,ha,ha. Of course they're all happy about it, of course they all have a choice. Get real.

    Regarding whether you feel able to say that your own choices are 'better' than others' different choices, well, if you can't do that, then it's hard to see how you can believe in anything.

  122. And I know I've linked to these chaps before, but they're playing MTP next week, so am quite excited.

    only gigging i do these days is ATP - which is great, but not quite the same....

  123. Trouble is, scherf, you can't argue a point without getting ad hom about it. Which is why I don't like arguing a point with you.

    I don't give a shit, tbh, whether you can see how I can "believe in anything" or not. My "belief" is that it is very easy for us to sit in our ivory tower and sneer at cultural practices that don't mirror our own when we don't fully understand the historicity, cultural drivers and social/economic factors that surround those practices.

    Your view seems to be to want to make the whole world live like we do in the West. Fine. I disagree. The fact that you think that makes me someone to be ridiculed as a result is your problem, not mine.

    And as this is beginning to leave a nasty taste in my mouth now, and I have to be up at 6, I am off to bed now.

    Night all. x

  124. Ms Chin, My sister's first AM lasted 6 weeks, as the "nice village boy" wanted sex on demand during the half time of football matches. After a "love match" (not a nice fella) my sister went fir another AM.

    He was a nice guy - for a year - then ran away with the temple 'priest's' daughter. Leaving a 12 month old baby with my sister.

    I'm very happy with my current partner, In the last 3 years she's spent 3 hours in my parents company..

  125. BB - I liked the use of the following classical music in a film:

    < Mozart for the girls at Yarlswood

    Sorry to hear about the blackdog MsRobinson, as others have noted, good company here at UT.

    Hello and welcome aimee

  126. right - bed now - just want to leave you with little uplift...

    night all

  127. I'm sure there was a generational element involved for the couple I met. It was nearly 30 years ago that I met them and they'd been married for nearly 50 years at that time. So, we're talking about a marriage that took place probably in the early 1930s? I'm sure that divorce was never an option.

    Now, I know that there actually was an element of serendipity in their marriage, despite what she said to me. He could have been abusive (or, she could have been, in fairness), his family could have decided they were unhappy with the dowry and set fire to her (that was happening in 1990, when I was in India, so I don't imagine it was unheard of in the 30s).

    My point, though, was that there is an element of choice in the success or failure of marriage regardless of whether it is a love match or an arranged marriage. We in the West place far too much emphasis on romantic love in entering a marriage. I've known far too many people who've married someone even though they had diametrically opposed views on major issues like whether or not to have children or how finances should be handled. They were so in "lurve" that they just figured those things would sort themselves out. Well, no. They never do just magically sort themselves out, do they?

    But, overall, I agree with scherfig that I don't think there's nearly as much "choice" in these arranged marriages as we might hope. Actually, I've just realised that I knew of another arranged marriage -- more recently. A Sri Lankan woman that I knew at uni. She went home for awhile because her mother wasn't well and came back a month later married to a guy she barely knew. She hadn't wanted to get married at all. Ever. But there was too much pressure from family members once she was back in SL, surrounded by them. Her new husband was doing a doctorate in Sweden. When he finished, he did post-doc at Cornell. She went out to spend time with him to try to get to know him. They hated each other. Managed to get an annulment.

  128. Some good linkages there, PhilippaB. ATP is usually very decent. Actually there have been some good new albums out the last couple of weeks.
    Hot Chip, very good and a grower, Four Tet, touched by a kind of electro-tranquil beauty, Yeasayer won me over and the great Gil Scott-Heron's return is good,better,best.

    Night all.

  129. Trouble is, scherf, you can't argue a point without getting ad hom about it. Which is why I don't like arguing a point with you.
    BB, it's not ad hom, and you don't like arguing with me because I am one of the few people who don't agree with everything you say all the time. As a barrister, you have made it clear that you like to 'win', but you've pulled out of several discussions here because you felt that it was 'unpleasant'. I am merely challenging your arguments (eg conflating one Irish Catholic situation with millions of arranged/forced marriages each year, and implying that that 'proves' something.)

    My "belief" is that it is very easy for us to sit in our ivory tower and sneer at cultural practices that don't mirror our own
    I would hope that you know me well enough by now to know that I have never ever done that. I would like to think that I have a more realistic and non-judgmental attitude to cultural practices than you appear to have.

    Your view seems to be to want to make the whole world live like we do in the West. Fine. I disagree. The fact that you think that makes me someone to be ridiculed as a result is your problem, not mine.
    That is not my view, as you well know, and I am not ridiculing you, BB, I am challenging your assertions on specific issues. It is petty of you to suggest otherwise.

    As I've said before on this blog, there is an increasing problem with dissenting voices here. It seems that everybody has to toe the party line and backslap each other repeatedly about the super things they've said on Cif. Well, sorry, but that's not interesting to me. It's not challenging and it's intellectually lazy. On the other hand, the YouTube links are generally excellent, so that's something.

    As a last word on arranged marriages (since it seems to be such a contentious subject) can I recommend Vikram Seth's very fine novel a Suitable Boy

  130. Going to go ahead and put this down here since I think a lot of you look at the end of the previous day's thread to see what went on after you last looked at it:

    I hope that this isn't seen as 'ganging up' on anyone, but I really don't see what scherfig has said that can be construed as ad hominem. Arguing a point isn't attacking the person. Of course, since I seem to largely agree with him on the arranged marriage issue, that may be affecting how I interpret his words.

    I think this is a matter of where lines are drawn on what cultural practises from other countries are acceptable when practised within our own cultures and which are absolutely unacceptable. I would like to think that pretty much everyone here would agree that FGM is unacceptable, not only in our own culture but anywhere. Still, there are people who argue that FGM is an important cultural rite and it's my understanding that it is largely done by women to women/girls. I'm guessing that many of those people would argue that this shows that it's accetable in those cultures where it is practised. But does anyone here actually want to argue that it is a freely-made choice? Cultural pressures are very much a factor in its perpetuation. The women who perform FGM on the younger girls would tell you that they are choosing to participate, but are they, really?

    Likewise, how many people who end up in arranged marriages are choosing it because it's what they want and how many of them are going along with it because of over-whelming pressure from family and the extended cultural group? I seriously doubt that very many who are pressured into arranged marriages are going to feel comfortable admitting to white friends and acquaintances that they weren't entirely happy about it. Of course they're going to tell you they chose it for themselves.

    We ought to be able to discuss things and hold different opinions without those disagreements being construed as ad hominem attacks. Arguing with right-wing nutters on Cif is easy and it sure does feel good to score points against them, but discussing issues with someone who isn't as easily dismissed is much more interesting and much better for us as people.

    If you truly believe in your viewpoint -- argue it, defend it. Don't say "This isn't what I come here for, I'm out of here." It might not be what you came here for, but it's what the place was created for.