Random musings from the front line (well, more like the support trench, or perhaps the castle 10 miles away, supping Chateau Lafite with the General Staff) in the battle for curiosity, inertia, grammar and a Dachshund called Colin.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Challenge Vader...

I can see into your mind...

This guy is good. In fact, I only defeated him on the fifth go with a "cow skin rug". Where's my bank holiday gone?

PS I love the cameos from someone who I assume is "The Burger King". Looks fat enough...

Friday, May 27, 2005

Oh Lordy Lord Lord Lord...

St Ephen of Green, our moral guide!Recently, I've found myself getting very angry with the bunch of self-important arrogant types who dare to call themselves the representatives of all British Christians. Humourless, confused, very single-minded and completely intolerant of anyone who doesn't fit into their idea of repressed pseudo-1950s lower middle class Britain, Christian Voice seem to think that they have the makings of a modern day political party, aiming to create a Britain in which a sort of Anglo-Saxon Sharia law will apply. I can't help thinking of Eddie Izzard's sketch about a Fundamentalist Church of England (the cry of "Cake or Death"!).

In fact, in their "alternative" Queen's Speech", Stephen Green and his cronies want to base the entire criminal justice system on the dodgy mediaeval translation of a 3000 year old Arab book (a handy guide here), including all those frankly incomprehensible bits in Leviticus (you know the book that is often quoted as where God forbids homosexuality, although the bit about sending a woman to the desert for a week during her monthly "unclean" period isn't often sermonised from C of E pulpits). Thank heavens for the 99.6% of the British population (most of whom are nominally Christian, such as myself) who feel that tolerance, live-and-let-live and free speech are still important in this country. It's good to see that most people (and these lovely people) treat them with the disdain they deserve, and so far not a single showing of the harmless (and tasteless, and mildly amusing) Jerry Springer opera has been cancelled by their "threat" of mass "hymn singing" outside theatres.

So as a special mediaeval treat, Merkin brings you the bits of the bible that you'll soon have to stop ignoring (feel free to visit the "National Campaign HQ" of Christian Voice for a bijou picket-ette if you disagree) and start obeying:

  1. Stop eating prawns. And oysters. And those yummy snail-type things you get in France. As it makes very clear in both Leviticus (Lev 11:10) and Deuteronomy, if you eat any sea food without fins or scales, you're committing an awful sin. The Jews are big on this one, but as they're going straight to Stephen Green's hell for not believing in Jesus, it's too little too late. Spread the word on the evil shrimp....
  2. And pigs and other cloven-footed beast. STOP IT. Again, Jews do this, but the big JC sort of never forgave them for not believing in him, apparently.
  3. Lev 21:20 states that you may not approach the altar of God if you have a defect in your sight. Confusing whether reading glasses count, or even if you're a bit bleary-eyed after a night out stoning blasphemous people (Lev 24:10-16).
  4. Lev 19:19 says that you must not wear clothes made of two different types of fibre. I hope "Dr" Green in his woollen suits is also wearing woollen pants, and socks, and shirt and tie. Else he'll get stoned. Probably.
  5. Don't even think about having the hair around your temples cut next time you're at the barber. Leviticus 19:27 says no.
  6. Here's a good thing though - no more having to pay for Char to clean the dishes after your pork- and shellfish-free dinner party. You see, Lev 25:44 says you can own a pair of slaves from neighbouring nations as long as they're male and female. I'm thinking of getting a male French chef and a female Scottish gardener, myself. Where's that Dimmock lady from, exactly?

I could go on, but you get the idea. A very funny letter called "Dear Dr Laura" did the email rounds a few years ago, which makes very similar points. In fact, Christain Voice even devote a lot of web space to a point-by-point rebuttal of it , which makes them look even more ridiculous. One (unintentionally) hilarious bit:

Q. My friend tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone him as commanded in Leviticus 24:10-16 ?
A. Yes, because it is all a matter of due process.

So there you go. Dennis Thatcher's famous phrase comes to mind - "Better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it". But what do YOU think? Tell them (info@christianvoice.org.uk) or my other reader via the comments thing. Bacon sarnie, anyone?

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Camberwell Courgette

I must say, that represents a level of hypocrisy in you that I'd previously suspected, but not noticed due to highly evasive skills. Without a hint of irony (or any obvious reference to Withnail), hark at a Mr Mark McGowan, who could very well be one of the most pretentious people in Christendom. As it states, with some pride, on the Camberwell College of Arts Live Art Shows website, from the 1st to the 11th of June:

"Mark McGowan, Camberwell College graduate, is planning to cartwheel the 57 miles from Brighton to London protesting against people who bring home pebbles from the beach as they are diminishing the Sussex coastline. He will have courgettes strapped around his head as most of the perpetrators are vegetarian."

Pseuds Corner, here we come (could it be my first ever £10?)...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The List - Episode 4 (A New Hope?)

Would you buy a lawnmower off this man?Is this "Gorgeous" George Galloway, giving the forces of neocon darkness at the Senate the unexpurgated truth? I read an article in the Sunday Telegraph today (who's sister paper recently lost a £150,000 libel suit to him, but who are appealing) saying that he may be a bastard, but he's our bastard and we should be proud of him (or words to that effect). I beg to differ...

Yes, it was a very impressive rhetorical performance from the former garden centre worker, but I've never been much of a supporter of the "My enemy's enemy is my friend" theory of politics, and just because he gave a well-rehearsed anti-war speech in the heart of Washington DC, it doesn't (or shouldn't, at least) make him a folk hero all of a sudden. American bloggers, "comment-lite" commentators and peace activists have seized on this previously-unknown, telegenic, eloquent MP as a new standard bearer for democracy and the anti-war movement, but caveat emptor applies just as much to speaking engagements as it does to washing machines, and this particular speaker comes with a closet so full of outspoken skeletons it makes Michael Moore look like a director of Halliburton.

Here are some of George Galloway's words of wisdom over the years.

In 1987, after a visit to the Greek resort of Mykonos, he (a married man) told a journalist, “I travelled and spent lots of time with people in Greece, many of whom were women, some of whom were known carnally to me. I actually had sexual intercourse with some of the people in Greece.”

In 1994, at his first (of two) meetings with Saddam Hussein he is on the record (and on camera) as saying "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability”. This, and many other episodes of shameless brown-nosing to the dictator, earned him the nickname in Parliament of the 'Honourable Member for Baghdad South'.

In 2002, in an interview with the Guardian, he stated "If you are asking did I support the Soviet Union, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life."

In the 2005 election campaign, when accused of 'carpetbagging' a constituency with the highest Muslim population in the UK, represented by one of the very few female black MPs, he replied that she (Oona King, the sitting MP) was responsible for "the deaths of many people in Iraq with blacker faces than hers". A nice touch, considering that she was not a minister (therefore not a member of government), and had not exactly pulled any triggers on the ground in the Middle East.

Last week, as he arrived in Washington, he announced "I have no expectation of justice from a group of Christian fundamentalist and Zionist activists under the chairmanship of a neocon George Bush." Is this a shade of religious intolerance, or at least a lack of RESPECT for other religious viewpoints?

S Hussein Esq shows off his lovely palace to a foreign admirerCombined with his suspiciously-large expense account when General Secretary of the soon-to-be insolvent homeless charity War on Want (£21,000 in 1985/6), his call on British servicemen to disobey orders (an offence under the 1934 Incitement to Disaffection Act), his repeated naming on Iraqi "Oil for Food" documents (that he admits, but claims are all forgeries), and his terrier-like litigious streak, it appears to me that he may be considered a rather shifty character. Thus, in my humble opinion, George Galloway should be added to The List.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Gide - Not a Daily Mail fan

To whom Michael Jackson should aspireNow here's a well dressed rake-about-town. Not so much Beau Geste as Beau Chapeau - this bearded chap is (or was, as he died in 1951) Andre Gide, a French author, aesthete, opinion-former and ... er ... paederast.

He was born in 1869, to a well off family, and with a substantial income from his family wealth, was a profilic writer from childhood onwards. He was an interesting character actually, for a number of reasons:

  1. He was married for 43 years, but it was never consummated. This, apparently, is a record.
  2. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but his entire body of work was placed on the Vatican's Index Librorum Prohibitorum ("List of Prohibited Books", that all Roman Catholics are forbidden to read) - one of only 2 laureates to be so treated.
  3. Was a fan of the odd catamite, especially those of Arabian extraction. It seems that in late 19th century France this was not considered a bad thing.
  4. On the other hand, despite receiving universal condemnation from the Parisian literati for his 1924 book Corydon, in which he defended homosexuality in general, and Oscar Wilde in particular, he conducted a vigorous extra-marital affair with one Maria Van Rysselberghe, and had even conceived a daughter in 1923.
  5. He didn't believe in the first person pronoun "I", and referred to himself as "it".

So, all in all, not the sort of person to appeal to the readers of the Daily Mail. With such unconventional views on life, and some eminently pithy quotations, I may just buy some of the old devil's collected works for some light reading over the summer. My favourite comments of his are:

  • Know thyself! A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly. Whoever observes himself arrests his own development. A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly.
  • I owe much to my friends; but, all things considered, it strikes me that I owe even more to my enemies. The real person springs to life under a sting even better than under a caress.
  • One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

Gide - a Newsnight presenter? It appears to be that we'd all be a lot happier if we had Andre's outlook on life.

Just keep your hands off those boys....

Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Vitae Lampada" by Sir Henry Newbolt

Now THIS is a cracking poem. Old fashioned, it rhymes and bangs on about honour, patriotism and stuff. AND it provides the title to this Blog.

There's a breathless hush in The Close tonight
Ten to make and the match to win
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play, and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat.
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red-
Red with the wreck of the square that broke
The gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed its banks,
And England's far and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks-
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with joyful mind
And bear through life like a torch in flame,
falling fling to the host behind-
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

That's it. No commentary, no 'lit crit', just an exhortation for all my readers (both of them) to memorise it. And then recite it, loudly, when drunk.
Another blow against ... er ... self-absorption.