Monday, 28 November 2011

Of Pippa Middleton, Idiotic Strikes and my Aspidistra

Public Sector Strikes

On Wednesday, as you are no doubt already aware, Midsomer Norton, Bath and indeed the rest of the country shall grind to a halt while 'Public Sector Workers' engage in yet another bout of unnecessary 'strike action'. The inconvenience caused by this outbreak of self indulgence shall affect many lives, leaving thousands of parents whose children are 'state' educated, no option but to 'keep the kids at home'. In turn there shall inevitably be a knock on effect as countless others, who have opted to privately educate, find that nannies, cleaners and other domestics are unable to turn up for work. Quite apart from forcing respectable women up and down the country to cancel luncheon and hair dressing appointments, it seems unfair that 'private sector workers' shall be missing out on pay. For my own part, one of the gardeners has already called to say that he will 'not be in' on Wednesday. It seems that for this week at least I shall be pruning my own aspidistra and while it shall save me some thirty pounds, Derek and his family will no doubt be having to cut back on the weekly shop at 'Morrisons'. I suspect the largely 'middle class' strikers involved had not 'factored in' the losses that shall now be suffered by Derek and his working class ilk.

But should we be surprised? As with many modern inconveniences this whole brouhaha is about little more than 'selfishness'. In spite of the global recession caused by New Labour it appears that people simply want 'more, more, more' even while the rest of us are struggling with diminishing portfolios and ill thought out boundary changes.

Boundary Change

The Boundary Commission is currently taking submissions on proposed changes to the size of constituencies and unfortunately North East Somerset, in it's current incarnation at least, is almost certain to be for the chop. One of the more worrying proposals on offer is to take Keynsham, Saltford and Chew Valley and add them to Kingswood (Glos.), thus breaking a historic precedent of county representation that stretches back as far as the reign of King Egbert in 834 AD. Many of my constituents have written to me expressing concern about the effect this could have on house prices and all I can say is that I shall be presenting the Commission with a lengthy appeal, more probably than not including a large dollop of middle English, should such an eventuality occur.

Children's Corner: The 'Tolpuddle Martyrs'

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a bunch of 'work-shy' farm labourers who, in 1834, brazenly threatened their hard put upon employers with 'strike action' unless their pay and working conditions were guaranteed in writing. Happily the lazy rabble rousers were swiftly tried and found guilty of 'administering unlawful oaths' whereupon they were transported to Australia, wherein to have a good hard think about the upset they had caused, while breaking rocks in the outback. Sadly liberal 'campaigners and pamphleteers' (the early 19th Century equivalent of the 'Polly' Toynbees of  this world) managed to overturn the sentence and the whole shower were 'pardoned' and returned to England. The only happy epilogue to the whole unfortunate shindig was that within a year all but one of the 'workers' had 'emigrated to Canada'; a consequence, one imagines, that their descendants are living with to this very day.

Pippa Middleton

Being the offspring or sibling of a famous person can be a burden or a privilege or a bore. To this day I am oft accosted at social functions by women of a certain age, desiring to talk to one about Pa and his doings. It is, frankly, only a very special kind of person who can rise out of the shadow of a close family member's greatness and with the exception of William Pitt the Younger, Peter Hitchens and Sir Mark Thatcher, one can think of very few who have managed to pull off the trick. To that delightful list one can now add the sublime Miss 'Pippa' Middleton. That she has managed to escape her sister's bushel and pen a definitive guide to 'party-planning' is to be applauded. That the publisher deems this to be worthy of a six figure sum is a considerable testament to her undoubted talent and one looks forward in earnest to reading the tome when it 'comes out'.

That is all for now. I wish you a hearty week and trust that you are not too inconvenienced on Wednesday.

Ego vobis valedico.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Of Pig-Sticking Patrick Mercer, Tie-less Border Controls and Bagpuss

When Two Moggs Met - by popular request

One was delighted to be able to visit the "Pop Up" Bagpuss shop in Whiteley's Shopping Centre last week. It was a superb opportunity to 'catch up' with the famed, much loved, saggy old stuffed cat and one suspects that Bagpuss felt very much the same.

"To be Omnipotent but Friendless is to Reign"

Anyone fortunate enough to have attended an exclusive all male public school will have fond memories of hiding pathetically in the rhododendrons from chumps wishing to pig-stick one. Inevitably, as one learned often and to one's cost, those leading the braying charge were frequently the same scholars who, that very morning, had been sharing one's toasted tea cakes over a butter stained copy of Shelley. Once caught, one would be 'poked and flushed' and having recovered sufficiently would thank one's tormentors with a manly shake of the hand before retiring to one's cot for a well deserved whimper. To the layman, such debasing experiences might seem 'old fashioned' or even 'perverse' but those of us lucky enough to have suffered them understand the very real bond of trust that was hewn between victim and perpetrator; for although the practice was frowned upon by the beaks, one learned the hard way that it was wrong to 'tell'.

This week Patrick Mercer, the very clubbable Member for Newark was reported to have described the PM as 'the worst politician since Gladstone'. Patrick wishes to comment no further and frankly neither do I (apart from pointing out that clearly this was an utterly foolish, factually inaccurate and wholly idiotic statement made by a man who quite possibly had been enjoying the 'hospitality' a little too much) - no the real concern here is that Mr Mercer allegedly spoke these words at a 'private function'. One assumes therefore that those leaking his words to the gutter press were 'guests who told'. Whilst not wishing to re-introduce pig sticking onto the National Curriculum, one feels that something, somewhere needs to be done to remind our nation at large of the old Eton adage that: 'sneaks to the beaks, get kicks in their sleeps'.

Pushing One Over the Borderline

In the week that 'Brodie' Clark 'stepped down' from his post, over the small matter of allowing hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers to flood into the country over the summer, one has been reflecting generally on the way in which we might be able to better improve our Border Agency.

In my other life running a 'Capital Management Business' (hooray for small firms!) I have had extensive experience of the world's airports and 'Customs Officers'. In Singapore, upon arrival, one is ushered off the plane into a delightful First Class Lounge where tea, coffee (or even something a little stronger) are served to passengers while delightful young women settle the tiresome business of stamping one's passport and checking one is not an 'international jihadist'. While it is true that in New York one is often subjected to lengthy queues and invasive 'searches', it is all done in such delightful sing song accents and accompanying incantations that one should have 'have a nice day' that it matters not a jot that one is being body scanned, interrogated or relieved of one's shoes.

In London, by comparison, even the heartiest challenge of "Look here, do you know who I am?" is unfailingly met with tie-less gawps and gum chewing insolence. It often feels indeed that one has arrived not in Great Britain but rather 'Little Britain'. One hopes that Mr Clark's successor, ably abetted by Theresa May, shall address this stain on our 'front door' as his first priority and speed up the whole irritating sham in the process.

I wish you all a hearty week - and bid you Salve.

Yours aye


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

World Wide Mogg Blog: Of 'G' spots, Wicker Men and Sarkozy

World Wide Mogg Blog: Of 'G' spots, Wicker Men and Sarkozy: Amateurs do it better I was invited last week to a production of a new musical based on the cult British film "The Wicker Man" written, d...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Of 'G' spots, Wicker Men and Sarkozy

Amateurs do it better

I was invited last week to a production of a new musical based on the cult British film "The Wicker Man" written, directed and starring Keynsham resident Kenneth Pollock (in costume above). I must confess that I had never seen the original, but Kenneth has done a superb job of dramatising this timely theatrical treat. The story takes place on a small island, much like our own, which has its own ways, customs and idiosyncrasies. The people live an idyllic life, bringing in the harvest, dancing around Maypoles, maintaining a healthy tradition of ritual human sacrifice and working hard to ensure the success of the island's economy. Inevitably 'bureaucrats' across the sea become increasingly suspicious of this happy go lucky, living, breathing example of the 'Big Society' in action and dispatch a tiresome apparatnik to impose 'order' where they perceive there to be none. Happily, the locals are having none of it and through a process of 'collective decision making' (you might be more familiar with the term 'referendum') decide that the best course of action is to burn this oaf in an enormous 'wicker man' (hence one assumes the title of the piece) while singing delighful sentiments in Middle English. The musical was characterised by sparky performances from the Keynsham Amateur Dramatics society and special mention must go to Mrs Edith Orton, whose lively depiction of a 'sex obsessed  nymph' (clearly meant to be some years younger than the good lady herself) must surely have set many elderly hearts racing. One found oneself whistling the show-stopping "Burn the Pig Alive" for many days after. Frankly, with talent like this, who needs the West End?

The Rights of Succession, G20 and the Commonwealth

I was delighted to read last week that the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting in Perth, decided unanimously to overturn the frankly outdated 1707 Rights of Succession Act, finally allowing female offspring of the monarch the same rights of succession as their male counterparts. The act shall also of course afford the future King or Queen the option of marrying a Catholic if they so desire. Henceforth no-one shall be able to accuse the House of Windsor of being anything but a very modern hereditary monarchy (in the line of descendants of Henry VIII in accordance with the third succession Act of 1543).

By sharp contrast one was thoroughly under-whelmed by the 'G20' meeting in Cannes(not 'despots' but 'G spots') Like some mid nineties boy-band I would challenge you to name any but the star players of this expensive and short-lived bun fight. The sight of Mr Sarkozy strutting about, put one in mind of a decidedly 'New Money' acquaintance, who held her late eighties 'coming out party' in the grounds of a 'rented' castle.

Happily, her father was to later lose the lot in some ill thought out 'dot com' investments. A fate which brought a wry smile to the lips of many of those who had been unfortunate enough to suffer the aforementioned party and the intolerable non-vintage 'Lanson' that was served.Whilst wishing no ill on the diminutive Mr Sarkozy, one shall be watching the passage of his 'austerity' package with interest.

That is all for now. My lunch of quince and cheese is calling. I bid you all a hearty Ave and look forward to enlightening you further soon.