Archive for July, 2007

Circumspect Circumnavigation

How about this for a phrasal verb of untold ugliness: circle back. As in

Well, after you speak with Fred, make sure you circle back with Mabel to see that she’s ok with it.

As if the other person travels by hanglider or something.

Thatch Entertainment

I enjoyed the visit to the Imperial War Museum.

It had an exhibition on the Falklands War which was a bit sparse. There was some TV footage, and I had expected to see the following, but no sign:

Them was the days.

We’re All Right, Jack

I’m back. I have had the urge to write something since getting back from London on Friday, but the urge did not translate into words.

The Irish Independent has an editorial today, claiming the following:

As a country, we were 10pc better off last year than the year before – and incomparably better off than before the Celtic Tiger boom.

It is consoling to people like me -whose last pay increase was lower than the rate of inflation- that if my living standards have fallen, at least ‘as a country’ we are doing fine.

– Doctor! These flesh-eating worms are destroying my innards, resulting in unspeakable pain!

– Fear not patient. In this hospital we are doing a better job than ever. Why, the number of actual sick people in the hospital has fallen dramatically over the last year.

The Irish Independent ‘we’. Who is it? Is it you? Introduce yourself dammit.

– Guard! A drug-addled cow rapist has just plunged his machete between my shoulder-blades!

-It needs to be noted, sir, that the actual incidence of crime has fallen over the last year, indicating that we are safer than ever before.

Are you one of these 33,000 people with assets of at least €1m in addition to the value of their home? If so, let me shake your hand. Thanks to dynamic go-getters like you, we as a country are 10% better off than last year.

Put it there, pal.

Accent on the ridiculous

“We’ve put an accent over the first A to make it more exotic and two Is at the end just to make it look a bit different,” Jordan told OK! magazine.

Fair enough. We are all individuals, and therefore require individual names. And numberplates.

One of the dreary aspects of living in a republic where the cars are registered according to the year and county is the asphyxiating lack of room for individual expression in one’s car numberplate, to say nothing of the job opportunities foregone. Every time I venture North, I am blown away when I behold the likes of Bi6R1 DE adorning the rump of a Toyota Corolla.

Some of you are already aware that my wife and I have been engaged in similar negotiations to those undertaken by Peter and Jordan. It is a long and drawn out process, and the result may be similarly portmanteauish.

First of all, my own going in position was that the child should bear the name of my favourite TV programme, i.e. Ugly Betty. My wife wanted the child to be named after her favourite city, Stockholm. So initial options bandied about were Ugholm and Betstock. Then I got to thinking that something purely alphabetical betrays a lack of individuality. I figured that some numbers would spice things up a little. So we then pondered 291holm and 2520stock, but my wife wanted to place a circonflex over the 2 to make it a bit different, which I thought was an aesthetic abomination, and whilst willing to accept a circonflex on the 0, I thought it was a bit silly to have a circonflexed figure preceding an ‘s’, since the circonflex generally indicates the absence of an ‘s’, as in l’hôpital.

However, things have been somewhat up in the air somewhat since we found out the child’s gender. Basically, I’m not convinced that 2520stock is a suitable name for a boy.


In the absence of an actual summer, a couple of summer-related tunes:

Arthur Lee does Bummer in the Summer:

Lee Hazlewood and someone called Sim Malmkvist doing a very good version of Summer Wine on Swedish TV in 1969:

and Peter Gabriel doing Here Comes The Flood:

The last one is bloody depressing. It’s enough to make you want to go off and live in the desert.

On Wednesday I am off to London for a few days, where hopefully I will witness the Thames Barrier give up the ghost. But in the event that it doesn’t, perhaps someone can suggest something else worth doing. I will be paying a visit to the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum and the Tate Modern.

Horse Bolts, Door Slams Shut

El País is reporting that the website of the magazine that published the cartoon of former newsreader Letizia Ortiz in a compromising position with a descendent of Louis IX has been shut down.

Princely Prints

I look forward to all upstanding ‘free speech’ internet warriors -hard bitten veterans of the Save Denmark from Saracens and Deliver Benedict from Dhimmitude- posting a copy of the cartoon at the bottom of this post in their sidebar.

I am not posting it above the fold, because when I posted the 8 facts about myself, my mother got on the phone to find out about the where, the what, the why and the whom of the person I had mistakenly punched in the face. (But she didn’t ask about me getting lifted by the peelers. I think it was the aristocratic angle in the first event that swung it for her.) Then another time she rang me to tell me that I used the word ‘rather’ rather too much. So -since I know that not every reader of this blog goes in for rudey nudey stuff, I am leaving it at the end.

What it is, you see, is the cover of a magazine, whose seizure has been ordered by a judge, because of the fact that it is ‘irreverent’ towards the Spanish heir to the throne and his wife. What it shows is a rather graphic cartoon representation of Prince Felipe and his former newsreader wife (that is, she used to be a newsreader, but she is still his wife), engaged in a conjugal act, Discovery-channel style.

It refers to the recent announcement of €2,500 government payments for women who get pregnant, and has Felipe saying: “Do you realise? If you get knocked up, this’ll be the closest thing to work I’ll have ever done in my life.”

Apparently, according to Spanish law, you can get up to 2 years in prison for calumnies and insults against the king and his offspring. Also, you can get 6 to 24 months for using the image of the king or any of his ancestors or descendents in any way that can damage the prestige of the crown.

Here it is:

Update: the fold isn’t working.

Continue reading ‘Princely Prints’

Bestride myself with boredom

It’s raining in Ireland, and I’m sat reading the Irish Independent site again. That must be the saddest line I’ve ever written.

David Quinn is battering on about how the GAA is a bit like the Catholic Church in its ability to straddle its world like a sad-eyed circus freak. There is not much else in the article, apart from complaints about ‘liberals’ and sticking up for the Pope.

Once you see the verb ‘bestride’ in a sentence, you can be pretty sure that a colossus will be along without delay. Someone should propose alternatives.

  • He bestrode the world of second-hand car dealing like a giraffe
  • She bestrode the world of jazz singing like a giant tuning fork

Tell you what, ‘liberals’ are getting a quare and shocking pasting in the Irish Incontinent of late. The other day Kevin Myers berated their lily-liveredness at refusing to countenance the apparent fact -according to him- that every Irishman is a potential terrorist and should therefore not be allowed entry to Ireland. For this, he draws upon the historic behaviour of Irish people in Britain. An excerpt:

And terrifyingly, there is no large-scale Irish rejection of the murderous projects of their compatriots in Britain; no mass-rallies of Irish denouncing Irish Republicanism; no call from within Irish society for nationalists to join the army or police; and no unconditional and all-embracing campaign to extirpate murderous fundamentalism from within Irish society. Even “liberal” Irish blame British policy for Irish terrorism in Britain, while remaining silent about the unspeakable Catholic-on-Catholic atrocities in Northern Ireland.

Or something like that. He bestrides the local world of sensationalist demagoguery like a…

Latin Lovers

A convoy of diverse phenomena has been thundering past my kennel for the last few days, and, alas, I have not been able to raise my snout from my dish to muster even the most half-hearted of barks.

One of the things I had planned on writing about in more detail was the decision of the Pope to allow masses to be celebrated in Latin. Not because I have any particular interest in Latin masses, but because I find it diverting that people should exhibit a preference for a religious celebration in a language they do not speak. It is as though religious devotion were intensified by incomprehension. A glorious mystery, perhaps.

On the one hand, the Latin Mass nowadays might seem like trenchant traditionalism, but on the other, there are parallels with the sort of thing popularised by people like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, where transcendental meditators use an incomprehensible ‘mantra’ -but one which is supposed to have a personal significance- to achieve a sense of transcendence.

But, as this letter writer to the Irish Independent avers, in what I imagine is a fairly typical position, this is not the only reason:

I go to the Tridentine Mass when I can – not because I think it is correct or better in itself, but because it is more obviously directed towards God, not inwards to the priest and the congregation, and because I want to pray in my own head along with the priest. He is not turning his back on us; he is speaking to God for us all and we are able to concentrate on our collective worship without distractions.

i.e. I would prefer not to see stragglers making their way through the front door via their reflection on the priest’s shiny forehead. Maybe.

More interesting here is the conviction that God has a particular location (‘more obviously directed towards God’), and therefore a corporeality, which, for the most part, he has been rather coy about revealing, provided we choose to ignore his occasional appearances on pizza slices and oily rags.

Open Smiles, Friendly Shores, Muslim Hordes

Johann Hari has a funny and disturbing piece about a cruise he went on for National Review readers, in the company of prominent ‘neocons’, including the barking mad Norman Podhoretz, the orientalist ancient Bernard Lewis, the comparatively sane William F. Buckley (who isn’t a neocon at all), and Mark Steyn, ‘a pimp inexplicably hanging out with the apostles of colostomy conservatism’.

Some of the best material, however, comes from the anonymous crazies who signed up for the event:

To my left, I find a middle-aged Floridian with a neat beard. To my right are two elderly New Yorkers who look and sound like late-era Dorothy Parkers, minus the alcohol poisoning. They live on Park Avenue, they explain in precise Northern tones. “You must live near the UN building,” the Floridian says to one of the New York ladies after the entree is served. Yes, she responds, shaking her head wearily. “They should suicide-bomb that place,” he says. They all chuckle gently. How did that happen? How do you go from sweet to suicide-bomb in six seconds?

The conversation ebbs back to friendly chit-chat. So, you’re a European, one of the Park Avenue ladies says, before offering witty commentaries on the cities she’s visited. Her companion adds, “I went to Paris, and it was so lovely.” Her face darkens: “But then you think – it’s surrounded by Muslims.” The first lady nods: “They’re out there, and they’re coming.” Emboldened, the bearded Floridian wags a finger and says, “Down the line, we’re not going to bail out the French again.” He mimes picking up a phone and shouts into it, “I can’t hear you, Jacques! What’s that? The Muslims are doing what to you? I can’t hear you!”

I wouldn’t say I’ve been a fan of Johann Hari up to now, but this piece is excellent.

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July 2007