Category Archives: History

Rulers and Riders

To try out my exciting multiple-choice plugin, test your knowledge of 18th-century British Prime Ministers and contemporary British competitive horseriders by guessing which of the two categories each of the following named individuals falls into. Like this:Like Loading…

“He’s quite a gay dog with the ladies.”

Via Kellie Strøm, this is a delight: Like this:Like Loading…

Nothing is timeless

I often grumble here that there’s no such thing as “timeless greatness” in art. Everything from subject matter to structure to execution to meaning depends on the circumstances that prevailed when a work was made. Indeed, if a work is published into another set of circumstances, it can escape its creator’s intentions completely, even without […]

Mistaken Identity

Tom Doran on why capitalism—I think he means free enterprise—has liberated working-class women: When the average voter looks at Tesco, they do not see a sinister corporate megalith, raping and pillaging their way of life. Rather they see that keeping their family fed and clothed is now that much cheaper and easier. Moreover, they don’t […]

“Comment Is Free”: 1952 edition

Via Daniel Knowles on Twitter, where he is @dlknowles, I read this marvellous old letter to the (then) Manchester Guardian from one of its totalitarian about-to-be-ex- readers: Original here. Like this:Like Loading…


Mitt Romney is a US Republican Presidential candidate who has chosen a Right-wing running mate. All right-thinking people here know therefore that he wants to rape female college students and force them to have their babies so they can be child labour in one of his corporations’ asset-stripped factories. Or, if UK observers fancy themselves […]

Chuka Umunna on slavery

Chuka Umunna in The Voice on the question of a UK government apology for slave trade: African slavery and colonialism are not simply remnants of the past – they helped lay the foundations for the successful modern Britain of today. The effects of slavery are still felt in our communities – many cite the matriarchal […]

Bush Was Right

This would be a good day to quote and laugh at some of the many racist articles written over the past few years that warned us not to “inflame the Arab Street”, that rhetorical mass of undifferentiated savages that “we” created by interfering in the Noble Civilizations of the region with our Imperialist Adventures, and […]


Further to my most recent extended comment on That Bigoted Woman, I note The Mirror reports that Gillian Duffy, who wondered during the UK General Election where all those Eastern Europeans are flocking from, has come out in support of David Miliband for the position leader of the Labour Party. David Miliband is the offspring […]

“Aimless Hostility”

A few days ago, John Gray reviewed A C Grayling’s latest book Ideas that Matter: The Concepts that Shape the 21st Century. To my surprise, someone I know linked to the review approvingly. I was surprised because the review is tosh: hysterical, pompous, and so self-fiskingly stupid that it’s not even necessary to read the […]

“You’re entitled to your own opinions. You’re not entitled to your own facts.”

[via Anthony] Like this:Like Loading…

Unfortunate headlines of the day

The BBC News Website has changed its original headline: SARAH PALIN LASHES OBAMA AT FIRST TEA PARTY CONVENTION —bring your houseboy, and let’s party like it’s 1779!—to this one: SARAH PALIN CONDEMNS OBAMA AT FIRST TEA PARTY CONVENTION but, Liz Jones’s latest wibble—search for it if you like; I’m not going to link to it—retains […]

Single Transferable Mope

I picked up this Prospect blogpost, via the magazine’s twitter feed, where it carried a headline that falls into the Kamm/Rentoul category of “Great Historical Questions To Which The Answer Is ‘No’.“: “Is Afghanistan Obama’s Vietnam?” The article itself doesn’t bother with the question mark, but is a classic of the “another Vietnam” genre, once […]

Evans, Dear Boy, Evans

Via Paulie’s “Shared Items” feed at Never Trust a Hippy, I read on the Democratic Society Blog one of the best “Did Magna Carta die in vain?” comments ever [see foot of the post I link to] and, on Tory Troll, an account of yet another FAIL by frontline interviewers. Here’s a tip for the […]

The Smell Of Home

I’ve been known to be uncomplimentary here about Tamworth, the town where I grew up. Back in the 80s, an Australian barman once told a friend of mine that, travelling around England, it was the place where he had been beaten up most frequently for being Australian. And he was white. Thanks to Paulie for […]

Making The Cars Run On Time

Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One chief, said yesterday that he preferred totalitarian regimes to democracies and praised Adolf Hitler for his ability to “get things done”. Mr Ecclestone endorsed the concept of a government based on tyranny. “Politicians are too worried about elections,” he said. “We did a terrible thing when we supported the idea […]

The Spirit Of Lord Rothermere Lives On

Every single “serious” newspaper in the UK led with Iran this morning. But The Daily Mail devoted its entire front page to an attack on Gordon Brown and the Iraq Inquiry, and The Express (alongside a photograph of a Euro Lotto winner cradling a giant cabbage) to asylum seekers, the largest group of whom before the war came […]


Via Ben Goldacre, “English Translations of Eastern Bloc Lolcats“. Like this:Like Loading…


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Jumpers For Goalposts

[UPDATE: For the hordes arriving here after searching for the comedy catchphrase “Jumpers for goalposts”, you’d probably be better off reading this.] Yesterday afternoon, I interrupted some desk-bound consulting work that, even if I weren’t prevented by an NDA from doing so, would put you to sleep instantly if I told you about it, to […]

Great Moments In Music Pedagogy, No. 2 980

The guitarist in the band I’m in has a diploma in (popular) music performance and his music theory is pretty good—certainly better than mine—but he was never taught any music history and he’s only just turned twenty-one. So when, during a discussion about the scores the sax player had written1 for himself and the trumpet […]

The Ultimate Downfall Parody

Via Paulie and thanks to qwghlm comes YouTube footage of Hitler discovering that his membership of the British National Party has been leaked. If you understand German then watch with the sound turned down. Like this:Like Loading…

Aural Sachs

Andrew Sachs has just been on BBC Radio 4, walking around London Zoo with Tim Samuels and reminiscing about how he used to sneak in there during World War II. Sachs was born to a Jewish family in Berlin in 1930. He and they fled Germany in 1938. He witnessed Kristallnacht—“Goodness, those Stormtroopers are going to get into trouble […]

Say What You Like About Joseph Stalin, At Least He Made The Underground Trains Run On Time

It was quiet here last week because I had a lot of things on—to the extent that I had to stop off at the 24-hour Tesco superstore in the small hours of Saturday on the way back from singing at a gig to do my week’s shopping. I’ve read some extreme tales about the goings […]

“Let Them Eat Smoke!”

Norm asks two questions: People on the wrong end of social and economic inequalities don’t just experience health disadvantages from smoking, but disadvantages across the board – in every area of health, in life expectancy, in the pattern of life chances in general. Shall we impose compulsory legal norms about diet, about exercise, about whatever […]

Growing Up

[UPDATE: Edited to use the version of the body text that actually makes some sense with the originally posted title.] I’m not that old, so I’m often puzzled by people who make historical pronouncements in ignorance of recent, relevant history, sometimes history that happened within their lifetimes but not mine. Of course, as Catholic dogma […]

Future News: Headlines Of 2108


Maggie Out

While I’m on the subject of Tories, this evening, I finally got round to watching the second part of the very good Michael Portillo documentary about Thatcher and the Conservative Party (The Lady’s Not For Spurning) that I downloaded from the BBC’s excellent iPlayer site. I put it off for so long because I was […]

Published Writer

Even the Nazis didn’t put artists out of work. — Andrew Keen, author of The Cult Of The Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy, talking about the Internet, one minute into this interview The advantage of the Internet, as Keen reveals in the title of his book, is that, […]

On The Preservation Of Source Texts

Yesterday morning, I walked out of the building that my flat is in to find that the telephone box immediately outside it had been marked with words along the lines of: HEY NIGGAZ KKK 4 ME in six-inch high black letters. Today I was going to write a post about it—not an “end of civilization […]

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