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Friday, 5 December 2014

Aggressive Breast Feeding

Breast is best; breast is good. I don't find the act of mammalian breast-feeding in the least offensive - whether a cow suckling her calf or a cat suckling her kitts, it's an natural as Sunlight. I was brought up on the sight of bare-breasted African native girls suckling their picaninnies - and in one case, thanks to Armand Denis, suckling an orphaned gorilla. And on occasion, when baby absolutely won't wait, I've been in the same room / train / north sea ferry as an unknown European woman discreetly feeding her infant as everyone helpfully averted their gaze. I have no problems with any of it. 

What I do have a problem with is women using their babies in public places as aggressive tools with which to seek to shame or embarrass other persons present in a jejune and rather silly political gesture. It's not a matter of feminism - it's a matter of coarseness, foul manners and vulgarity. Such women should be treated as what they plainly are - lewd, coarse, vulgar and, for their child-abuse, beneath contempt.   

Rome is Rotten

It is not hard to feel superior to the Italians. Transparency International has just graded the country as corrupt as large parts of north Africa, having little in common with standards of public probity that prevail in north west Europe. Membership of the EU suits Italy down to the ground; where better to disguise endemic corruption than within an institution itself so fundamentally dishonest, so unaccountable and so riddled with fraud that even expert auditors fail in despair? That Italians still enjoy a reasonable standard of living - they're not exactly begging cigarettes from tourists - suggests a popular complicity with official corruption in a way that maintains the status quo

And as with the Italian State, so with the Italian church. It now has a Pope who has not only taken perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as a Jesuit but who has taken the name of Francis of Assisi to set the tone of his papacy. I must declare a personal liking for Franciscans; the friars have been my priests since I reached my teens. When first I knew them they lived walled from the world in a magnificent friary at East Bergholt, the heart of Constable country, a stone's throw from Randolph Churchill's old home. When they left it to relocate to a large Council house on the Chantry estate in Ipswich to serve an undistinguished modern community church I thought at the time that they were diminished. Of course the opposite was true. It took age to realise it.

As the Catholic Herald reports, change is afoot within the Vatican. I still can't walk the Embankment under Blackfriars Bridge without recalling the reporting of Roberto Calvi's corpse hanging over the water. Roman corruption is a squid with long tentacles. Vaticanologists are clear; once Francis has cracked the curia, he will turn his attention to the bishops. And where better to start than Germany and Austria?

Catholics in the UK will not believe the stupendous wealth of the Germanic church, funded by a State-supported Church Tax that ranges from 1.1% of income in Austria to 8% - 9% of Income tax in parts of Germany. It has allowed for instance the idiot Bishop of Limburg to spend €31m on his palace without anyone noticing, and no doubt scores of other incidents of corruption, financial abuse and self-service that are well hidden from public gaze. Francis' next move against the bishops will be the hardest of his papacy; as the Herald reports,
Pope Leo XIII sent an apostolic visitor to Ireland to report on the Catholic Church there,” he writes. “On his return, the Holy Father’s first question was: ‘How did you find the Irish bishops?’ The visitor replied that he could not find any bishops, but only 25 popes.
There will be those (indeed including regular readers) who will criticise not only Francis' conservatism but the validity of his faith. Myself, I welcome and support him with all my heart; his crook is not only a hook for errant sheep but a weapon that can kill a wolf. If he turns the gaze of his stewardship towards the EU and the Italian State, he needs to have cleared his own garden first. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Letter from Loamchester

Dear Fubbs,

Lovely to see you again at the recent Party dinner at the Stag's Head; I realised it must be fifteen years since we closed the old Conservative Club, and I must say Weatherspoons have done a decent job with the conversion, though the name 'The Slime and Bucket' may not be to everyone's taste. Of course, with only fifty members or so left in the constituency these days we simply can't afford anything more than the room that Mr Khan kindly rents us above his shop. 

Still, it's good to see that our Party leaders in London haven't entirely forgotten us. I thought the new candidate that they sent us for next year's election made a rather good speech for someone of twenty-three, though as she's been working in Parliament since she came down from Oxford she should have picked up quite a bit of experience. My only qualm is that some of the voters may have some trouble getting their tongues around her forename; there are not many Pashtoon speakers in the constituency, Colonel Maurice aside, and since he's thrown in his lot with UKIP we have not a-one in the local Party.

For a marginal, we stand a pretty good chance next year. The threefold announcement today that the Loamshire by-pass is to be upgraded to a motorway for the whole of its four mile length - splendid news! - plus a quarter of a billion for flood defences for Spittle Creek (you remember how we used to try to jump it when it was in full flood) and to cap it all, reduced price beer for pensioners from Osborne's Brewery for the whole of next year are a triple whammy (if you'll pardon the expression) that will put the party in good stead. And that chap from the Treasury made it quite clear that this is all due to our fantastic economic recovery, and nothing to do with the election at all. Let Labour try to cap that, eh? 

Right, must sign off now as Tadusz is here to do the garden and as the Poles simply don't understand herbacious perennials I must provide direction.

All my love


Monday, 1 December 2014

Is Cherie trying to find a heartbeat?

You know, sometimes I'm half convinced that bloody Blair is already in the realm of the undead; the rictus oral contortion as he attempts a smile, and Cherie's desperate attempt to find a heartbeat, on their joint 2014 Christmas card, only tend to confirm my suspicions.

Mind you, actually being on the Blairs' Christmas card list must be only marginally preferable to being diagnosed with ebola.

Poles to pay for Stonehenge tunnel?

The area around Stonehenge is one of the most important ancient ritual landscapes in Europe, as important to our shared ancestry as Ayers Rock is to the Australian aborginals. It is surely right that modern intrusions such as the A303 should be removed from the visible landscape, however expensive this may be. An area stripped clean of road, visitor centre, car parks, ice cream vans and druid teepees will surely appeal to those like me who like their heritage pure. 

And to pay for it, Poles will just have to work a bit harder, after Cameron announced that £500m a year in UK benefits that currently goes to families in Poland is to be liberated, apparently without breaching EU law. They can take comfort that in return they will be free to share in the much improved vista of the great stones, and feel that their minor sacrifice will not have been in vain.