Can it really be true? Is this coming election just a choice between Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson as our next prime minister? That is about as comforting as being asked to choose between hemlock and cyanide as an aperitif.
Johnson is a self-aggrandizing, egocentric, and well-documented liar, publicly unmasked as such on many occasions. His party is guilty of the most blatant and underhanded skulduggery, of which the two most recent occurrences were the proroguing of parliament that had “Nothing to do with preventing discussion on B*****…”, and the shameless renaming one of their Twitter accounts as an “objective and independent fact-checker”.
Corbyn is an agitprop dinosaur, a throwback to the revolutionary socialism of the 1960s, who is so breathtakingly inept that he cannot – or will not – root out antisemitism in his own party. If ever there was an open goal for Labour’s enemies that could – and should – be closed for good, that is it. But not only that. Everyone knows, whether they like it or not, that this election, with all the spin and hype to the contrary, is about one issue – B*****. Corbyn will “renegotiate a deal” and put the issue to a public vote. But on the question of leave or remain, the greatest, the most important, and the most divisive issue that this country has ever had to deal with – short of the civil war of the seventeenth century – Corbyn steadfastly refuses to state his opinion.
So, hemlock or cyanide, the outcome is inevitable, and then what? Elysium fields would be lovely, but I have a feeling that it is Dante’s Inferno that we’re headed for …
Anyone considering voting for their Conservative Party Candidate in the forthcoming election should watch Michael Gove being interviewed by Ciaran Jenkins on Channel 4 News this evening. An extended version of the interview can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO2zT9-B2X4
At particular issue is the Conservative Party’s campaign headquarters’ press office Twitter account. During the head to head between Johnson and Corbyn on TV yesterday evening, the Tory Party changed the name of its usual CCHQPress account to factcheckUK, clearly attempting to masquerade as an independent body. It proceeded to publish ‘factchecks’ on some of Corbyn’s statements. Immediately after the TV debate, the account reverted to its previous name.
In a statement, Twitter said the Conservatives had misled the public and it would take “decisive corrective action” if a similar stunt was attempted again.
Ciaran Jenkins challenged Gove that the Tories had quite blatantly attempted to mislead the public. Gove flatly denied the fact in the most shameless and blatant manner. Moreover, his amused demeanour made it clear that he considered the episode entirely fair and reasonable and that no deception had been practised.
This is a man who has been a minister of the crown, and aspires to be so again in the next government.
In Socrates’ speech from the dock in 399 BC, after he had been condemned to die by the Athenians, he observed: “… in politics, no honest man can live long.” Does this explain our Greek-scholar prime minister’s almost pathological aversion to honesty?
I make no apology for reproducing my rather smug letter to The Daily Telegraph of 25 March 2011, (although I’m horrified to note that it was more than eight years ago). And lest anyone is under any illusion, I stopped buying said organ some time since as a protest against its appalling political bias. I’ll admit to photographing the Friday puzzles from copies I can find whenever possible, since they are rather good on that day.
I raise this again now, because more and more I hear the word sanguine being used incorrectly in the media – exactly as I point out in the letter – with the clear meaning entirely opposite to that meant.
Am I just being an anorak? Is this Jacob Rees-Moggery taken to ridiculous extremes? (He recently pulled up an interviewer who had accused the government’s strategy as being a ‘shambles’, by questioning why government activity was being compared with a butcher’s slaughterhouse – which is the original meaning of ‘shambles’.)
Well, I think it is worthwhile to try and maintain some standards in the use of our principal method of communication, and if you don’t agree, I challenge you to listen to any conversation among young people (and some older, who ought to know better), and try to identify a single sentence without the words ‘like’ or ‘kind of’ …
The word sanguine comes from one of the four humours – deriving from bodily fluids – identified by the Greeks 2,500 years ago. This word, and its three associated words, remains a useful way to describe human temperaments. Thus: Sanguine – cheerfully optimistic, Choleric – bad tempered or irritable, Melancholic – deeply sad, and Phlegmatic – unemotional and solidly calm. Use the term incorrectly, and the idea being expressed is meaningless.
It’s a poor example of the importance of the meaning of words, but I used regularly to visit a German company making high-power lasers. Their handbook – printed in English – stated that for testing the output of a laser, it was most important to use a target that was inflammable(!) They had made the thoroughly logical – but totally incorrect – assumption that ‘in’ flammable meant ‘not’ flammable. I wonder how many insurance claims were refused for the fires resulting from users taking that instruction literally.
(I have decided not to mention by name the bodily fluids involved, since people might be reading this at meal times … If you’re interested, you can find them in Wikipedia)
A welcome repeat on the radio yesterday of a comedy programme written and performed by the lovely Linda Smith. A woman goes into a shop and questions the manager: “Is this CD genuine whale song?” “No madam”, he replies, “It’s a cover by a tribute band of dolphins, signature tune, ‘Hey, Hey, We’re the Minkies …’”
Asked once in an interview where she grew up, Linda replied that it was a dreary place on the Thames Estuary in Kent called Erith. "Erith wasn't twinned with anywhere," she said, "but it did have a suicide pact with Dagenham …”
(Amended 5th November after David M - see comment below - points out that I forgot the critical element of the joke ...)
To Borough on Saturday, to the curiously named Menier Chocolate Factory, a theatre and restaurant in a old chocolate factory near the market. The restaurant was excellent, set in an area with great wooden beams, cast iron pillars and rough floorboards. The theatre was small and cramped, and a little challenging for the ‘older’ theatre-goer, with its twists and turns, uneven floor, unexpected steps and bench seats with barely enough room for the ‘modern’ undercarriage.
The play though, was a delight. The Watsons is/was an unfinished book by Jane Austen, interrupted not by her death – she just apparently abandoned it. Laura Wade has taken it and turned it into what I would describe as ‘Jane Austen meets Tom Stoppard’. The first half-an-hour or so is pure Austen, loaded with stock characters and situations immediately recognizable from her books. But then it all suddenly comes alive as the characters take over the plot … To say much more would be to spoil the pleasure of seeing it; there are reviews on line for anyone really interested. It was thoroughly entertaining and real theatre, and deserves a transfer to the West End to a more comfortable venue.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs