Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Quotations for Wednesday

Eternity is not the very ancient, which existed before time began, but the entirely other, which is related to every passing age as its today and is really contemporary with it; it is not barred off into a 'before' and 'after'; it is much more the power of the present in all time.

Pope Benedict XVI

There are people in Europe who, confounding together the different characteristics of the sexes, would make man and woman into beings not only equal but alike. They would give to both the same functions, impose on both the same duties, and grant to both the same rights; they would mix them in all things ~ their occupations, their pleasures, their business. 

It may readily be conceived that by thus attempting to make one sex equal to the other, both are degraded, and from so preposterous a medley of the works of nature nothing could ever result but weak men and disorderly women.

Alexis de Tocqueville, 'Democracy in America,' 1831.

We have been most secure when we kept out of Europe. Meddling with European affairs has brought us nothing but toil and suffering. The greatest age of British economic achievement was in the nineteenth century. Then we were truly the workshop of the world. The sole principle of our foreign policy was Splendid Isolation. This was the basis for our prosperity.

A.J.P. Taylor

If the notion is good enough, if it truly belongs to you, then you can't forget it—it will haunt you till it's written.

Truman Capote

Monday, 23 May 2016

Austrian presidential election on a knife-edge - will Freedom Party candidate win?

Note: the BBC has now announced that Mr Van der Bellen, the Green Party candidate, has been elected the next President of Austria. 

The election of the Austrian president is on a knife-edge. Neither of the main two parties are in the second round. Mr. Hofer of the Freedom Party is narrowly ahead of the Green, Mr Van der Bellen, but postal votes will decide it and they will favour the Green Party.

The Freedom Party is invariably described by the Homeric epithet 'far right', which they are not. They are Thatcherite, Eurosceptic, Powellite, comparable to UKIP. 

Someone tweeted: 
'Why don't we learn from the past?'
But we do! We have learn exactly the wrong lessons from 1939-45. This is why Mrs Merkel invited millions of people without papers to settle in Europe, which is why Hofer and people far to the right of him win votes.

Britain is Non-U

I haven't read Alan Ross's Essay in Sociological Linguistics republished in Nancy Mitford's Noblesse Oblige since I was in my first year at university. I am very ashamed to say that avoiding Non-U (i.e. non-upper class) words and phrases is the most lasting effect of my university education. However I am delighted to discover it is U (upper class) to say England to mean the UK and Non-U to say Britain.

Saying England instead of Britain is that's going out (though Romanians keep up the tradition and talk about the English Ambassador). It's a good thing to do for several reasons - for example it annoys false pedants.

I mean absolutely no disrespect to Scotland, a great country that I love with all my heart and hope one day to visit. But England has been used far more often than Great Britain (or worse Britain)  to mean Great Britain or the UK since 1707 when the two countries merged and therefore England is slightly more correct than Britain. Disraeli signed the Treaty of Berlin as 'Prime Minister of England' and Churchill always spoke of England not of Britain. So did most people, apart from the Scots, the Welsh, Northern Irishmen and Americans, until fifty years ago. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Quotations for Sunday

Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it.

Joseph Conrad

If you must have motivation, think of your pay cheque on Friday.

Noel Coward

Friday, 20 May 2016

Quotations for Friday

My guilty secret is that I’m really a working class Tory. There, I’ve said it. I’d love to be a liberal because they’re the nice people but it’s really hard work – I can’t swallow their gullibility and I think their ideas are stupid.

John Bird, not the comedian but the founder of The Big Issue.

The more highly industrialised the country, the more easily a materialistic philosophy will flourish in it, and the more deadly that philosophy will be. Britain has been highly industrialised longer than any other country. And the tendency of unlimited industrialism is to create bodies of men and women — of all classes — detached from tradition, alienated from religion and susceptible to mass suggestion: in other words, a mob. And a mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well disciplined. 

T.S. Eliot in 1948. 

But the age of Ford has passed. Mass suggestion is rather out of date in the internet age and we are de-industrialising.

I like simple things, books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.

Daphne du Maurier.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Churchill would have campaigned for Britain to stay in the EU

Boris Johnson says that Churchill wanted a united Europe but not for Great Britain to be part of it. This might have been his thinking in 1945 when he, with Stalin and Roosevelt, then Truman, was one of the Big Three, but in his last years he supported Macmillan's application to join the E.E.C. So he told his constituency association chairman.

Of course, by then he had partly lost his faculties, but he was still acute at times. For example, at his last birthday celebration, he accurately told his daughters,

'I have achieved a great deal to achieve nothing at all.'

Monday, 16 May 2016

UN says Syrian refugees are mostly economic migrants

Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, speaking to the Huffington Post, admits,
“The number one reason why people leave Syria is not the bombs or the food or the cold, it’s because they want to find educational opportunities for their children."
In other words, most Syrian refugees are primarily economic migrants.

You might think that that can hardly come as a surprise, but to very many innocent people it will be one.

Nevertheless, Mr. Møller thinks migrants are a "good thing for every country" and points out that the current wave adds a mere 0.2% to the population of Europe. So nothing to worry about. He also deplores widespread antipathy to migrants settling in Europe caused by the fact that 80% are Muslims and the 'completely unacceptable' depiction of 'every Muslim' as either a terrorist or criminal.  

Sunday, 15 May 2016



Pronunciation: /ˈbiɡət/ 


A person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions:don’t let a few small-minded bigots destroy the good image of the cityhe was a fanatical bigot
Why do they call right wingers bigots and not left wingers? Right-wingers who defy the current political consensus tend to think outside the box - play with dangerous ideas -  are the opposite of narrow minded bigots. 

Whereas liberals, progressives and feminists are often bigoted in their beliefs. If you doubt this, ask them about their opinions on - to take examples at random - smacking children or on capital punishment or smoking in public or women being members of male clubs. Their opinions may very well be right, but you will, more often than not, find completely closed minds. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Civilisation and the West

By the middle twentieth century, few European nation-states had not at one time or another figured themselves as 'the outpost of Western Christian civilisation': France, imperial Germany, the Habsburg Reich, Poland with its self-image as przedmurze (bastion), even tsarist Russia. Each of these nation-state myths identified "barbarism" as the condition or ethic of their immediate eastward neighbour: for the French, the Germans were barbarous, for the Germans it was the Slavs, for the Poles the Russians, for the Russians the Mongol and Turkic peoples of Central Asia and eventually the Chinese.

Neal Ascherson

Logically speaking, they might all have been right. Discuss. 

Neal Ascherson's mental universe is Poland -centric. This is from his book Black Sea in which mentions Romania on one page and talks a very great deal about Poland.

As an Englishman I think of France as more civilised than us- in all the bad senses of the word 'civilised', at least. We English seem and feel provincial compared to France and Italy. But when we look westwards we feel like wise Europeans from an old continent.  

As Evelyn Waugh said

We are all born American - we die French. 

Vampires do exist II

Vampires, incidentally, do exist, even if Vlad was not one of them. I well remember the Hamburg Vampire in the middle 1960s. He climbed into a flat and drank the blood of a young woman, who asserted that before he came through the window she had felt a deadly chill and become unable to move. The skeptical police took her off to the hospital, where the Vampire was actually caught halfway up the creepers on the wall, on his way to have one more for the road. He ended up in a mental clinic. The victim and the police officer in the case ended up telling their story in convincing detail on German television.

NEAL ASCHERSON, "Dracula in Britain", Games with Shadows

More about real life vampires here and about Vlad the Impaler here.


Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself: Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them. Every day begin the task anew. How can you reprove any one with gentleness, when you correct yourself with asperity?

St Francis de Sales

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery. 

Francis Bacon (the artist, not the essayist, philosopher, statesman and crook)

You haven't I suppose ever mixed with politicians at close quarters. They're awful...their stupidity is inhuman.

Lord (Robert) Skidelsky

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.

The presidents of Turkmenistan and Belarus, yesterday, watering a tree in the rain

Today's metaphor for the futility of politics, my friend Dominic Johnson said.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light

My Facebook friend (and friend) Ruth Dudley Edwards said she needed a four line humorous poem and couldn't think of any. This made me remember the following, though I should have been working. 

You may know them all. They are not obscure.

The first two are anonymous.

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just's umbrella

Conservation and endangered species

The Economist worries today that more than a fifth of plant species are threatened with extinction but is unconcerned that mass migration threatens to overwhelm homogeneous European national cultures and means the end of ethnic states.

And the end of Christian Europe.

I like Turks very much- every single one I have ever known - but Turkey is a Muslim country, 97% of which is in Asia, it has another religion, another tradition and it is not European.

Negotiations on Turkey’s accession to the EU opened in 2005, when talks began on the 35 so-called chapters Turkey needed to meet to become a member. Only one has been closed – and it may be several decades before Turkey completes the accession negotiations. But one day, decades from now, if the EU still exists (who knows?), Turkey probably will join and this is a very strong argument for the UK to leave the EU.

But British and European conservative politicians think otherwise, including Lord (Chris) Patten who thinks admitting Turkey would give the Europe a new reason to exist. 
'As an EU member, Turkey would add a new dimension of massive historic importance. Europeans would show that we could embrace an Islamic democracy and build a strong bridge between Europe and Western Asia.That, in turn, would create a new European identity and narrative, a new reason for the EU to exist in this century, a way of rejecting the divisive politics of old. 
Admitting Turkey into the EU has been a British policy objective under all three parties since the 1990s. Politicians who favour this are now arguing for the UK to remain in the EU. They are not trustworthy.