Friday, 23 December 2011

And a happy Christmas...

... to all White Rabbit readers from rabbits large and small. Among the larger rabbit's resolutions will be to blog more next year and get round more regularly to linked blogs. We shall see...

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Custody, Knob of the Week 8 and how the rabbit did better out of Europe than Cameron

An update as regards the infamous Croydon Tramlink woman is in order. As the matter is now sub judice the rabbit had better avoid the substantive issue for the time being but one aspect of subsequent events calls for comment.

The Tramlink One - as perhaps we are now to call her is named Emma West. She is 34 and comes from New Addington - a place the rabbit has commented on in comments on original post, albeit less unkindly than as per a site called Chavtowns - Britain's Worst Places To Live (torrent of bad words and worse thoughts alert)- one can only conclude that the Chavtowns writer is a Tourettes sufferer and the rabbit is still pondering the information about the horse.

But back to Emma West - it is little surprise to discover that she has appeared Croydon Magistrates' Court charged with what is described as a racially aggravated public order offence - presumably s5 as SW has observed in previous comments. She was remanded to reappear in court on the 3rd January - in custody. She applied for bail but was refused for her own protection. She has now (last Tuesday) been granted bail but the original remand in custody has attracted little comment - cases with an unattractive racial or sexual dimension tend to result in an instant failure of the liberal instincts of the otherwise ostentatiously liberal. I have only had one client (ever) who in the face of an objection to bail 'for their own protection' was not anxious for bail despite the alleged risks and he didn't apply for bail. Online death threats were apparently made in Emma West's case - one may wonder if they were so serious that they over-rid the presumption of bail that follows from the presumption of innocence - a presumption that even applies to unattractive people doing/saying unattractive things! To post something threatening on the internet - presumably under cloak of anonymity - is one thing. Seeking to effect homicide in real life is another. The distinction doesn't take too much working out. I can only doubt that la West should ever have been remanded in custody in the first place.

The moon faced Tory twerp to the right above (as opposed to the moon faced Tory twerp to the left of whom more later) is named Aidan Burley. He is Conservative MP for Cannock Chase and latest winner of the prestigious White Rabbit Knob of the Week award. Burley is not facing criminal prosecution and is not and has not been in custody (okay, I don't say he should be but the contrast with Emma West is irresistible).

Burley attended a stag do with 12 friends in at the restaurant in the ski resort of Val Thorens in France. Bad behaviour - indeed seemingly criminal under the French penal code - ensued. Burley was unwise enough to be present - and indicating no dissent -  while another guest, sitting beside the MP at the restaurant, was caught on film making a speech in which he said: ‘Let’s raise a toast to Tom for organising the stag do, and if we’re perfectly honest, to the ideology and thought process of the Third Reich.’


Later, after moving on to a British-themed pub, some of the group, many of whom adopted thick German accents, chanted: ‘Mein Fuhrer! Mein Fuhrer! Mein Fuhrer!’, ‘Himmler! Himmler! Himmler!’ and ‘Eichmann! Eichmann! Eichmann!’ One of the party commented ‘We are trying to intimidate as many people as possible. A lot have been quite offended, especially one guy who was both Jewish and gay.’

Double oooops!

The point is not that Burley actively participated in any of this behaviour or dressed up in SS uniform (as two of his party did - Burley is the one on the right - so to speak - above) ) but that he acquiesced in it - indicating no dissent at all. What happens next - which may include criminal investigation in France - remains to be seen. The rabbit will keep a beady eye but in the meantime a Knob of the Week is the least that can be done in recognition of his role.

As regards the other moon faced Tory twerp - the rabbit won £2.80 (two balls correctly predicted) on the Euromillions lottery last Friday, thus bringing back £2.80 more from Europe than Cameron did. 'Nuff said.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Ska, Knob of the Week 7 and appeal...

I mentioned that The Selecter (see posting below) took to the stage at Fairfield Halls to the strains of The Pioneers' Longshot Kick De Bucket through the PA and promised some ska. So the first song selected itself. It was produced by Lee Perry and is the story of a horse race at Cayamanas Park, Jamaica. It is the story of the death of a long lived but wholly unsuccessful horse - the appropriately named Longshot - who died (during his 203rd race).

If this doesn't bring a smile to your face, check your pulse. You are probably dead.

Also played on the PA was The Upsetters' Return of Django - Wikipedia tells me the title is a reference to the spaghetti western Django. Didn't know that.

I've posted Louie Louie before - the oriiginal Kingsmen version - complete with lyrics to debunk the theory that the lyrics are in fact a barrage of filth - which they are not. Here is the Toots and the Maytals version, which wasn't played on the PA at The Selecter concert but did crop up on This Is England on the TV the next night so there is a sort of connection...

So for a complete overlap, played on the PA at the The Selecter concert and figuring in the opening sequences of This Is England here are Toots and The Maytals with 54/46 Was My Number - a reference to his prison number when serving time for possession of two spliffs. Watch the opening sequences anyway - they are a striking  collage of clips of early eighties England.

Moving on, the silly season has come early - for overseas readers and the terminally inattentive, above is Jeremy Clarkson who presents a motoring TV programme called Top Gear that the rabbit manages to find hugely resistible. He is also a prize prat. Clarkson has caused an enormous storm by his comments  on The One Show (another TV programme the rabbit has managed to resist) including comments that striking public sector workers should be shot. Specifically in front of their families.

Cue the most immense uproar - the BBC has received more than 21,000 complaints, 'Dave' Cameron - a prime minister - has pronounced the comments
'a silly thing to say... I'm sure he didn't mean it'. Labour leader and panda imitator Ed Miliband was in some danger of exploding with indignation. Most absurdly, the trade union Unison initially called for the Top Gear presenter to be sacked by the BBC over what it described as 'appalling' comments and then said it was seeking legal advice over the issue as to whether Clarkson could be referred to the police. Free rabbit legal advice: don't be so silly and get over yourselves...

Can we deal with the matter this way (a) Clarkson's comments were witless posturing but anyone with two brain cells to rub together could work out they were not to be taken literally (b) he is an obvious right wing knob (c) let's move on. He loves the attention so maybe stop giving him so much.

But as a parting shot, another White Rabbit Knob of the Week is in order (number 7 I think) and is awarded jointly to Clarkson and whoever from Unison wanted to take legal advice about dragging the police into this farrago of posturing.

Changing the subject yet again, the rabbit's seasonal appeal - Amnesty International are running a campaign - Write for Rights - to send greetings to prisoners. Not all the selected prisoners are political prisoners in the strict sense but all are cases where there are serious questions as to their imprisonment. This has been going for some years and in a number of instances has apparently made a difference. There is guidance given - for example reference to Christmas can get the prisoner in trouble in some countries - and a choice. Seems worth doing and the rabbit will be sending off a few.

Very finally - and belatedly - the rabbit did a guest post on the Charon QC blog on how he became a barrister. If you're really at a loose end take a look...

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

charm school dropout

The rabbit will blog soon when less time poor but to be going on with here is a clip that has achieved some notoriety on YouTube. The Croydon tramlink is rather a good thing, but not when people like this are travelling on it. The person filming breaks rule 1 - make sure there isn't a thumb or finger in the way - but it soon disappears to reveal charm school dropout in all her charmlessness . ..

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

rabbit at the hop, an e-mail from Christine and Shelagh Delaney

After the threat from Hank to find a way to come over and kick me in the head if I didn't go, it became inevitable that the rabbit would hop off to see The Selecter live at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon last Thursday. It was stonkingly good stuff - I'd quite forgotten what fun live music can be. The rabbit's companion for the evening was another ageing reprobate by the name of Bob - a serious Deadhead who turned up in a starburst tie dyed T-shirt and greeted the rabbit with an offer to buy him a Doom, an offer which was accepted.

The band came on just as the second Doom arrived, entering to the strains of Longshot A Kick De Bucket through the PA. The sheer energy was the first thing to hit home. 'I'm exhausted just watching them' announced Bob, plonking himself down on the merchandising table. Plus - Pauline Black (vocals) is such a little showboater - playing to the audience shamelessly with a twinkle to her eye. Gaps Hendrickson (also vocal) bounces like - well - Tigger.

Then the standards started piling up, Murder, My England (launched by Pauline getting all political 'I hate the EDL, I hate the BNP. This song is called My England but this is our England' - cue much cheering), Three Minute Wonder (launched by Pauline getting all personal 'You are all three minute wonders!' - How does she know? I wondered - assuming it means what I think it means).

There was only going to be one last finale to the main set - here it is compliments of rabbit phone cam services  (Hat Tip to Bob for stills) - On My Radio

Equally, there was only going to be one encore. The audience were chanting Too Much Pressure before the band even came back onstage. Then the band came back on and joined in the chant - as can be seen.

And then into Fatty Fatty. But even encores have to come to an end - as also can be seen...

The encore completed, the PA blasted out Toots and the Maytals' 54/46, which the rabbit was reminded while watching TV the next evening, also opens This Is England . Then Pauline Black comes over to the merchandising table to sign books and records - and was this near! (see pic) to a starstruck rabbit.

Oh what fun! On a completely different subject, I'm sure - without false modesty - that regular readers will agree that it was only a matter of time before Christine O'Donnell succumbed to the rabbit's charms. Sure enough, the rabbit was greeted this morning with an e-mail from Christine. The header read 'you're invited to a private meeting'. The little saucepot! The rabbit is already licking his lips and making his travel plans. So that there is no doubt, the message is headed 'Dear Andrew'. A gentleman will disclose no further details save to say that Christine has come up with a somewhat implausible cover story - presumably hoping to throw the media off the scent - that the meeting is to discuss the 2012 elections. Can't see anyone being fooled by that!

More seriously, the rabbit was sad to learn of the death of Shelagh Delaney at the age of 71. She wrote her play A Taste of Honey aged 17 after going to a Rattigan play and deciding she could do better. She was something of a one hit wonder but did produce other work of some - although - lesser note. Above is a pic of her from 1961. Frustratingly I can't find a quartet of photos from 1960 of her smoking a cigarette, She could make smoking a cigarette look the coolest thing ever, A dangerous talent...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Freedom Riders Palestinian style

I'm sorry to be serious again - normal silliness really will be resumed again as soon as possible - but this deserves wide dissemination - in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience and with an obvious echo of the US Freedom Riders, Palestinian activists will today attempt to board segregated settler only buses to travel to Jerusalem. There is supposed to be a livestream here but it may be jammed. i've got intermittent sound, stills and text - including from eyewitnesses to the right of screen. Expect violence and hysteria as usual from Israel.

Friday, 11 November 2011

November in England III - the banning season

The ineffably useless Home Secretary Theresa May has taken a break from letting anyone who wants to enter the country do so by standing down the Borders Agency to save money (or something) while simultaneously talking tough on immigration to ban the Islamist organisation Muslims Against Crusades. Let there be no doubt that Muslims against Crusades are an odious shower, the mirror image of their fringe christian equivalent Westboro Baptist Church (whose god sure does a lot of hating but I digress). Both target the bereaved via military funerals (WBC) or Remembrance Day events (Muslims against Crusades). Now it is not necessary to support the idiot military adventures in Iraq or Afghanistan (I don't) or to fail to recognise the enormity of the damage done to the hapless population of those countries to intensely dislike gloating, sneering and heckling the bereaved and what ought to be their events. A predecessor organisation of Muslims Against Crusades planned a march through Wooton Bassett - a particularly sensitive location as it was there until very recently the bodies of British soldiers repatriated from Iraq and Afghanistan were flown in. The march - which no doubt would have been hugely provocative and offensive was banned.

These loons want Europe to be a caliphate. Frankly, I have no wish to live in their - or anyone else's - caliphate. What do I think of the ban?

I'm against it

I'm against it for two reasons, one of principle and one practical. Firstly, freedom of speech includes the right of odious people to say odious things. There is a limit to free speech, namely when one person's freedom of speech threatens or injures another person or persons. So where these individuals incite racial (or more accurately religious) hatred then fine, prosecute them. We have laws against racial and religious hatred We also have public order offences by the bucketload. Again, use thesse laws where appropriate. What does banning this shower add to anything?

That is the practical objection. The ban is merely pointless posture politics, its timing being due to the imminence of Remembrance Sunday and the usual Islamist threat to disrupt ceremonies and made by a politican in trouble. One suspects distraction techniques in play. Organisations don't disrupt ceremonies. Individuals and groups do. Such individuals and groups are in no way disabled from disruptions by this banning.

Theresa May announced in banning the group 'I am satisfied Muslims Against Crusades is simply another name for an organisation already proscribed under a number of names including Al Ghurabaa, The Saved Sect, Al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK'

Oh well spotted! So that's what they do! Who would have known! As soon as one group is banned they set up another. Or more accurately they change the name. The new group cannot be banned immediately as they haven't done anything yet. When they do they are banned and another group pops up. And so on.

And thus the point of this serial banning exercise is? Okay - to answer a rhetorical questions - it does no good at all. Below with Hat Tip to Left Foot Forward is Theresa May banning Islamist groups, sorry playing Whack A Mole.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

November in England II - poppies plus other musings

It is a matter of no particular consequence in the great scheme of things but the rabbit will not be wearing a poppy this year.  Basically as an act of protest at the increasing apparent orthodoxy that it is compulsory to wear one.

For overseas readers another short explanation is in order. In Britain and the Commonwealth Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November. In origin, it  recalls the  end of World War I on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended 'at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month' of 1918 with the German signing of the armistice. Of course it now includes the dead of World War II and subsequent wars and conflicts up to and including Afghanistan. Although two minutes of silence are observed on 11 November itself, the main observance is on the second Sunday of November, Remembrance Sunday. There are church services usually adjourning alfresco to the local war memorial and there is a national event at the Cenotaph at Whitehall.

The remembrance poppy originates with the red Flanders poppies of the battlefieklds of World War I and  an American woman, Moina Mitchell who promoted of a poem In Flanders Fields  - a mawkish and frankly pretty awful invitation - purportedly from the war dead - to carry on World War I. Red poppies began to be worn as a mark of remembrance.

And so it is today. Red poppies - made of some sort of stiff paper - are worn in the run up to Remembrance Sunday. Donations in exchange for the same go to the Royal British Legion.

Now in principle I have no problem with the way in which Remembrance Sunday is marked and have worn the poppy in the past. Remembrance is right, appropriate and can be healing. There is no glorification of war. It is not a recycling of Wilfred Owen's old lie. Although the Royal British Legion would not be my charity of choice, no doubt it does much good with the money raised by the poppy appeal.

But inevitably three things happen in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday. Firstly, the poppy wearing season gets longer. Traditionally, poppies were worn for the week before Remembrance Sunday. Now they start appearing in October. Secondly, the sense of pressurisation to conform and wear a poppy seems to increase with every passing year. For example, in a micro version of the insolence of office, a head teacher reportedly directed her staff to wear poppies. Thirdly, there is a heated debate about matters 1 and 2. This year it has even extended to the assembled mums of mumsnet. Nowhere is the apparent compulsion more apparent than on BBC television. Is it possible to appear on BBC tv without a poppy in the present season? Do they have some maniac at the doors of Broadcasting House with a bin full of poppies and a staple gun waiting to attack anyone presenting themselves sans poppy? I noticed that Benjamin Zepeniah on Question Time last week wore the white pacifist poppy but would the BBC actually allow you in a studio without any sort of poppy at this time of year? Evidence suggesting that the answer to this question is 'yes' is scant.

Veteran Channel 4 Newscaster Jon Snow does not wear a poppy. He holds to the entirely reasonable position that he chooses to wear a poppy on Remembrance Sunday itself but not otherwise. Of course a huge avalanche of odium is heaped on his head every November, particularly last year after he came out with the perhaps not entirely felicitous phrase poppy fascism. Below is Snow not wearing a poppy (nasty tie, Jon).

At least on the 12th November it won't matter for - well - 11 months. Completely changing the subject, the rabbit hopped off to see The Ides of March at the Greenwich Picture House. it's a good watch - go see. On one level its about politics but on another level it's about treachery, double dealing and bad faith - a cynic might say same thing really. One question struck me though - what chance would an agnostic who was opposed to the death penalty have of being elected President of the United States? Not much, I suspect. On the subject of President of the United States, is Obama feeling left out because he has yet to do anything catastrophic and heroically stupid on the foreign policy front?

How about attacking Iran? - that would be truly, madly and deeply dumb.

Completely changing the subject again, the rabbit saw a documentary about Everly Brothers tribute act Simon and Garfunkel on BBC1 last night. The documentary was actually about the Bmaking of the Bridge Over Troubled Water album. Paul Simon mentioned meeting a Vietnam Veteran who said that the troops in Vietnam listened to Cecilia and in particular to...

'Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia
Up in my bedroom making love
I got up to wash my face
When I come back to bed
Someone's taken my place'

A common problem, I'm sure all would agree. The vet's comment that when they heard that these lines were actually being broadcast, they realised they weer coming back to a very different America.

Some wag on YouTube comments that Garfunkel has one awesome moustache.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

November in England I - Guy Fawkes Night

Above is Guy Fawkes by Cruikshank, looking distinctly reflective - as well he might. I'm not sure how well the story of Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night (5th November) is known overseas. If it is little known in the USA, I'm not surprised as George Washington not unreasonably told his troops to stop celebrating it on the 'nothing to do with us any more' principle.

Fawkes was what would now be called a terrorist. He and a number of catholic co-conspirators decided that the new king, James I, who had proved a sore disappoinment to them by the enactment of further anti-catholic laws was best blown up together with his Parliament (the gunpowder plot). The main conspirator was named Robert Catesby and readers of twentytwelve will recall that the Gilbert family cat is called Catesby but I digress.

A load of barrels of gunpowder were stored in a cellar underneath the House of lords hidden behind firewood ready to blow away the King and parliament on the occasion of the state opening of the latter. To cut a long story short, the plot was discovered and Fawkes was found leaving the cellar, shortly after midnight, and arrested. He was then tortured (a legal note: torture is and always was contrary to the common law - torture took place under royal perogative) and conducted himself with considerable courage under torture but was broken in the end.

Having signed his confession, Fawkes and seven co-conspirators were duly tried, the outcome never being in issue. they were sentenced to be drawn backwards to his death, by a horse, his head near the ground. They were to be 'put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both'. Their genitals would be cut off and burnt before their eyes, and their bowels and hearts removed. They would then be decapitated, and the dismembered parts of their bodies displayed so that they might become 'prey for the fowls of the air'.

Rather a stiff sentence, I'm sure all will agree. The paper above shows Fawkes' usual signature below and the faint and barely decipherable signature (to his confession) above indicating the debilitating effects of torture. He also died at the hanging part, thus spoiling his tormentors' fun.

A suitably pleased parliament, not having been blown up, passed the Observance of 5th November Act 1605 - a piece of legislation not noted for the restraint of its prose. And so it was, every 5th November Guy Fawkes was burned in effigy up and down the country, fireworks were let off and strong drink taken.

'Remember remember the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason why gunpowder, treason

Should ever be forgot...'

But recently something odd has happened. The villain has become something of a hero. The starting point is probably the disrepute into which politicians have fallen and the dystopian film V For Vendetta which gave the world a cool Guy Fawkes mask (the rabbit has one - it hangs on a peg in his kitchen).

Suddenly the Guy Fawkes mask was all over everywhere like a rash. The libertarian blogger Old Holborn uses the mask to (largely) preserve his anonymity. And then there is of course the Guido Fawkes blog - the rabbit is not a fan of the latter, consisting as it does of a lot of self-satisfied self pleasuring but it at least provides a harmless outlet to Tourettes sufferers, ie his commenters. Oh and of course the hacktivists Anonymous who recently delighted the rabbit with their double whammy of an attack on a Finnish neo Nazi site and (allegedly) Israeli secret service and army websites. Nice one times two!

Strange days indeed. The journalist John Harris, who the rabbit usually likes to read, had a thoughtful piece in last Friday's Guardian on the moribund mainstream of politics, starting with 'I miss the Liberal Democrats'. The rabbit sort of does too - there is a lot of be said for radical liberals. Whisper it not but they are a great improvement on the Labour left as they are not in the same thrall to top down statist solutions. The problem is the non-radical liberals - the Orange Book knobs and the like - it seems that the Orange Book knobs have the whip hand which is a pity. Harris quotes Italian Marxist and rabbit fave Antonio Gramsci: 'The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear'.

Or as Hunter S. Thompson put it: 'when the going gets weird, the weird go professional'.

Part II of November in England to follow tomorrow. Apologies for being (mostly) serious. Normal silliness will resume soon.

Monday, 31 October 2011

rabbit appeal ...

The rabbit was hopping down High Holborn this lunchtime after returning from a visit to the Big House aka Her Majesty's Prison Feltham when he spotted the above young lady with her billboard. Just in case it's not clear to all from the pic it reads:



It struck me that for a qualified lawyer (her name is Annie and she is an Australian qualified lawyer who spent a number of years in the New South Wales Attorney-General's Office) to be standing in the street with a billboard looking for work is (a) a sign of the times (b) a sign of optimism and (c) shows guts.

Soooooo .... A rabbit appeal is in order. Any lawyer reading this and needing a  paralegal should get in touch with Annie at e-mail - she said it was okay for me to put her e-mail addy up here. Or contact the rabbit via e-mail addy on my profile page. I have a cv for her that can be scanned and e-mailed. Like all sensible people she is presently based in Croydon. And no, I have never met her before and do not expect to meet her again. I'll see if the great and good Charon QC  can do a link to this appeal as I somehow suspect that he has more lawyer readers than the rabbit.

Some readers may be wondering how the smallest rabbit is getting on. Even if they aren't I confess I can't help it. Well at 13 weeks last Friday, he's getting his sleep as can be seen.

Friday, 28 October 2011

George Formby mostly ...

After spending ear earlier part of the week running up and down the country, the rabbit was pleased to slump in front of the television last night. On BBC4 he saw comedian Frank Skinner, a rabbit favourite, present a documentary of George Formby.

I suspect George Formby (1904 - 1961) is a mystery to overseas readers, but he is hardwired into the folk memory of British popular culture. He was a comedian in the tradition of Lancashire music hall comedians and a singer songwriter. His unique selling point accompanying himself on his banjo ukelele. It's difficult to get a grip on just how big he was in the 1930s and 1940s but he was mega - with earnings to match. One random fact the rabbit didn't know until researching this piece was that Formby was born blind due to an obstructive caul; his sight was restored during a violent coughing fit or sneeze when he was a few months old.

Hi songs are now real period pieces, little pieces of insight into a bygone world but they are very funny. The song above is the complaint of nerds and geeks the world over: Why Don't Women Like Me? Our man warms to his theme...

Last night I went out walking, my intentions were to click

But the sights I saw while walking out, they nearly made me sick.

I must admit I saw some girls, attractive little dears

Arm in arm with ugly men with cauliflower ears.

Now if women like them like men like those - why don’t women like me?

A mystery I'm sure all will agree. His songs are loaded with innuendos. In fact you end up with innuendo overload and everything becomes an innuendo, rather like Viz magazine's Finbarr Saunders - surreally I note that someone who is really called Finbarr Saunders is running for Knoxville City Council. I must drop him a  line and ask if he is related. Here are a  couple of frames from the Finbarr Saunders strip. For the record, the word between 'to' and 'it' in the speech bubble in the right hand flame is 'flick'. Tsk!

No, I don't know what he's really talking about either. Now back to George Formby. He and his wife Beryl became unlikely anti apartheid heroes.  In 1946 Beryl and George toured South Africa shortly before formal racial apartheid was instigated. They ended up refusing to play racially segregated venues (when they arrived Formby - who was barely literate - didn't know what segregated meant but soon found out and didn't like what he found out). Beryl was presented with a bunch of flowers onstage by a little black girl and - thinking nothing of it - gave her a kiss. The result was uproar and the Formbys being escorted out of the theatre under armed guard.

The leader of the National Party, Daniel Malan - who was shortly to introduce apartheid - came to complain. Beryl slapped him in the face and unburdened herself of the immortal line:

'Why don't you piss off you horrible little man?'

Nice one Beryl.

Let us end with our man's Blackpool Rock - enough innuendos to make Finbarr Saunders (either one) blush...

With my little stick of Blackpool Rock, along the promenade I stroll.

It may be sticky but I never complain, it's nice to have a nibble at it now and again

Erm ... Quite so.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Lord Bonkers - beyond satire

'The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which' as Orwell had it in Animal Farm. It occurs that the rabbit mentions Orwell quite a lot. This is a sign of approval, but I digress. The line came to mind on viewing - with Hat Tip to Charon QC - the above clip of some naughty Australian satirist taking the - erm - rise out of a person named Lord Monckton, a man so bizarre that it is hard to tell who is the satirist and who is the satirised.

There are a number of things to note about Lord Monckton.

Firstly, yes - he does look like that.Secondly, Lord Monckton is a prominent member of UKIP. For the benefit of overseas readers, UKIP - the United Kingdom Independence Party - is a particular rabbit aversion made up as it is of petty nationalists, xenophobes, saloon bar bores, all manner of obsessives and - how does one put this delicately? - self pleasurers.

Now our man has a number of odd claims to 'fame'. One is that he is the only person in the entire history of everything to have copped a 'cease and desist' type edict from the House of lords telling him to stiop claiming that he is - or ever has been - a member of the House of Lords. Yes, he's a 'Lord' but...

Oh never mind.

Well if you insist... Monckton is a hereditary peer and is of the opinion that 'the House of Lords Act 1999, which purported to exclude hereditary peers from membership of the House of Lords, is defective'.

So that would explain it. He has also been told to stop using the House of Lords logo (left) so our man uses the logos centre and right instead. Isn't there some concept of 'passing off'?

Even weirder, his UKIP profile (he is head of Scottish UKIP and of policy development, which is nice) lists among his achievements '2008 Inventor, cure for Graves’ Disease (100,000 UK sufferers) and other chronic infections'. Graves' Disease is - it transpires - an auto immune disorder that leads to overactivity of the thyroid gland. The catch is - he has not invented a cure for Graves' Disease - only he - and apparently UKIP - believe he has done any such thing. There is no cure for Graves' Disease.

Oh and the rabbit was amused to notice among his lordship's interests as per his UKIP profile was...


Which is nice. What a pleasant relief after all this weirdness to see that Christine O'Donnell has written again. Now what tendresses may pass through cyberspace between the rabbit and Christine is nobody else's business but I'm sure I betray no confidences if I quote selectively..
'Dear Andrew,

While running errands at my local Target Friday night I was unexpectedly contacted by ABC News asking me about my personal political contributions in the 2012 GOP Presidential Primary. This seemed to cause a bit of a stir, so I am writing to you directly to share my thoughts on the upcoming 2012 elections...'

Very thoughtful I'm sure but what exactly is Christine's local Target? Must be an American thing...

'I contributed to Gov. Romney, Herman Cain and I plan to personally contribute to Sen. Santorum and Speaker Gingrich. Let me clarify that these contributions are from me personally, not my campaign or PAC'.

So there we have it. Christine has contributed to the Mormon one and the bloke with the pizzas or burgers or whatever it is. I'm a bit surprised at Christine spreading her largesse so widely as she invariably seems hard up and keeps asking the rabbit for money. I can only conclude that the candidates so favoured by Christine must have a sound line on - erm - UKIP's favourite activity, something that Christine takes a dim view of. Below is Christine taking a dim view of... Oh never mind.

Ending where we began, with Orwell and Animal Farm, it is not as widely known as perhaps it ought to be that in one of his most disgraceful moments, rabbit fave poet T.S.Eliot as director af Faber & faber (publishers) rejected Animal Farm. In a letter from 1944 explaining why he would not be publishing the work, Eliot told Orwell that he was not persuaded by the 'Trotskyite' politics which underpin the narrative. To publish such an anti-Russian novel would jar in the contemporary political climate, explained the poet.

Eliot had been leant on by the men from the ministry. There was a war on and Marshal Stalin was our friend. The fact that he was a yellow eyed mass murdering psychopath was not to be the subject of satire in the public prints. 'We have no conviction ... that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the present time. It is certainly the duty of any publishing firm which pretends to other interests and motives other than mere commercial prosperity to publish books which go against the current of the moment' wrote Eliot.

There's a 'but' coming, isn't there?

 Eliot then goes on to say that he was not convinced that 'this is the thing that needs saying at the moment'.

Shameful capitulation.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

a nip to the air..

There was, I reflected as I made my way to the train station this morning, a nip to the air. The brief Indian summer is firmly over and the weather is distinctly autumnal. The phrase 'a nip to the air' comes from the Grateful Dead's Scarlet Begonias from Grateful Dead From The Mars Hotel - one of the best album covers ever (see below). This posting became inevitable in a matter of several seconds. Here - thanks to David Dodd's good works - are the annotated lyrics with theories - they are theories rather than explanations - of 'too pat to open and too cool to bluff' and the rabbit favourite 'the sky was yellow and the sun was blue'. The song is Robert Hunter's hommage to England. He's hugely under-recognised as a rock lyricist and up there with the best in the rabbit's opinion. By all accounts, he's a top bloke as well. A story to illustrate...

One problem writers have when they want to quote lyrics is copyright. I wanted to use a fragment of lyric from The Wailers' Duppy Conqueror in twentytwelve (yes that's a blatant plug - go buy!). I eventually tracked down whoever it was who dealt with copyright issues for the estate of Bob Marley. It would take some months to get a permission and there would be a fee I was told. I believe there is some scope for using fragmentary quotes (what's the answer Peter?) but decided life was too short to work out exactly what I might get away with so did a quick rewrite to have the relevant character humming the song instead.

Anyway, someone wanted to use a Robert Hunter lyric in his literary endeavour some time ago. Anxious not to blot his copybook and - well - anxious generally he tracked down Hunter and asked permission to use his lyric. Hunter's response was immediate and to the point - 'use what you like'.

Top man or what?

And with Hat Tip to JoJo, so that's what it's about! I went to an all male English equivalent of High School and I am so not interested...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

spooky huh?

After the rabbit's invention of Tea Partyer Hiram J Whackjob last week, he was startled to see in Steve Bell's If cartoon strip that Hiram appears to have a relative, namely Humbert Whackjob. It will further be noticed that Humbert is an elephant. This is even spookier as the symbol of the Republican Party, of which the Tea Party is the provisional wing, is an elephant. Spooky huh?

It occurs to me that the cartoon may be mystifying to overseas readers, by way of explanation,  a very boring man called Liam Fox was Defence Secretary until he had to resign the other day due to his connection with a man called Adam Werrity who described himself as Fox's adviser despite having no official standing. There is an odour of special interests, lobbying and even a whiff of money changing hands although there is no evidence that any landed in Fox's hands. I suppose I had to make that last statement in case he wants to sue me. Actually I don't care if he does. I could do with a laugh.

Monday, 17 October 2011

rabbit as photojournalist...

The rabbit was hopping around central London on Saturday, mostly for lunch with two of the nearest and dearest at the Wine Wharf where after discussion on Shelley, Byron and Coleridge (pretentious? nous?) one of our number claimed that there were no good writers with right wing politics. The other two, including the rabbit, exclaimed with one voice...

Evelyn Waugh!

Orwell said something to the effect that Waugh wrote about as well as it is possible for a human being to write but had some insupportable opinions (I can't find the exact quote - even with the help of Mr Google). Uh Huh. And before anyone says 'Ayn Rand' I confess ... I dutifully bought Atlas Shrugged. I accept that she has a very good prose style. I put it down after a few chapters. That was several weeks ago. I shall attempt to pick it up again but confess that it was not doing it for me on any level beyond thinking ' nice sentence' from time to time.

Coming out of the Wine Wharf having compared French and New Zealand Pinot Noir to his satisfaction the rabbit encountered a troupe of Morris dancers in Borough Market (see pic). Someone said you should try everything once except incest and morris dancing. Obviously no-one told the characters above.

The rabbit then hopped off across London Bridge in the general direction of his London office (yes - on a Saturday - very sad) and on approaching St Paul's Cathedral what should he enounter? Yes, the Occupy the London Stock Exchange event. Out came the rabbit phonecam. This is the eastern police line with the cathedral in the background.

Inevitably the visual media were in attendance complete with coralled off area.

Here we have the protestors on the steps of the cathedral. They had been prevented from occupying the Stock Exchange (private property etc). The police took their positions on the top of the steps to 'protect' the cathedral and move the protesters on. What happened then is rather funny - and like the rest of events so far - very English. The Dean of St Paul's Giles Fraser (who the rabbit has met and rather liked - he says 'fuck' a lot for a clergyman) thanked the police for their interest in the cathedral's 'protection' but declared the cathedral not in need of the same and asked them politely to get off the steps, which they had no option other than to do. He then told the protesters that he didn't mind at all if they stayed but warned them the bells were very noisy if they were planning anything other than an early morning. And there they remain complete with a field kitchen, portable toilets and a media area streaming the protest to wherever. Oh and a sign telling all and sundry not to litter.So far it is all very English and understated unlike the event in Rome on the same day, which turned into a riot. The rabbit was amused as he left the scene to see a tourist bus gingerly executing a three point turn on finding its route blocked.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Just because you're paranoid...

After yesterday's message from Mr Damian Omen, the Tea Party disappoints today with a message from their friends from Americans for Prosperity - the message is 'tell Washington to cut spending' not 'get down in your cellars and prepare for armageddon'. Very dull, I have to say. C'mon, shape up Tea Partyers!!!

So the paranoia baton has fortunately been picked up elsewhere as revealed by Tony in his most excellent blog.  Here is a list of 'must have' items for the paranoic who likes to keep up with the Joneses - I'm not sure quite which is my favourite - probably The Evacuchut, but if I were a woman I'd love scaring the crap out of every man in a 200 mile radius with the Rapex Rapist Dick Destroyer. Every home should have one...

And today's music? Well it's a no brainer really.

Oh and also following from yesterday's posting here is the New Riders of the Purple Sage's version of Long Black Veil. Johnny Cash and Dylan also recorded it among others but I think this version by their very stonednesses is my fave.

What's more and with Hat Tip to Laci the Dog, here is The Framley Examiner a spoof online version of a local newspaper which induced giggling fits verging on mild hysteria in the rabbit's case (follow the link - don't risk a ruptured eyeball trying to read the sample page below). Okay, if I had to nominate one favourite it would be the small ads page which literally had me in tears of laughter. 40 gallon drum of owls??? Enjoy!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

return of the rabbit...

The long drugs importation case has concluded (let's just say we came second) and normal rabbiting on will now be resumed. But first, I must have a word with my friend Christine O'Donnell. It's always nice to hear from Christine and she writes regularly - which is sweet - though she always seems hard up as she invariably ends up asking for money. Having said this, she naughtily seems to have passed on my e-mail address to her friends in the Tea Party.

Christine's Tea Party friends have been filling the rabbit's inbox of late with the most unutterable balls. Okay, they utter it but it's still balls. They don't seem to understand the word 'unsubscribe' despite implorings from the rabbit using this word. Usually the Tea Party e-mails are along the lines of 'I am Hiram J Whackjob and I'm running in the Republican primary in Nosepick. Idaho against Deirdre M Toadthrottler, the most liberal Republican in the known universe. Blah. Drone'. Nobody in the Tea Party can have any money as they always end up asking for money too.

Anyway, an odd message arrived from the Tea Party the other day. It is headed '37 Things You Should Hoard...' and is from someone the rabbit has not met named Damian Campbell. I assume that he is another member of Christine's startlingly wide social circle.

It starts Dear Fellow Patriot (I assume there is no point in telling them I'm not even American let alone a fellow patriot),

This will be short and to the point (You need to read this message and I want to get you this information as fast as possible).

Very thoughtful I'm sure.

FEMA has ordered 420 million survival meals.

Not being American (see above) I had to google to discover that FEMA stands for Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Why would they need a 7000% increase of survival meals?

Good question, Damian. I wonder if he is related to the Damian in The Omen by the way.

Warming to his theme, Damian continues...

Disasters have been pummeling the world over the past couple of months. Maybe it’s the X-class solar flare that knocked out all of China’s communication back in February (“X” is NASA’s highest solar flare classification).

Or the reality that our fragile food supply chain could be knocked by just the threat of a disaster (even if it was just a false alarm)…

Whatever the reason, it’s about time the Government woke up and started paying attention!

As your fellow American, I’m hoping you won’t put your faith in a system that is bound to fail, but that’s your choice.

Really there are 37 critical items that you can buy from the grocery store that can be the difference between life and death:

So here is the life and death stuff from Damian. I confess I've absolutely no idea what he's blethering on about but am quite sure there's an explanation. Think of the above as a rabbit public service announcement.

I did promise some more cricket rabbit pics and here is one from the first England v West Indies 20/20 floodlit game at the Oval. A rabbit complaint: his ticket cost £60 ($91 - American persons). Okay the ground was pretty much full so the English Cricket Board would no doubt say that the market can bear those prices but they are hardly likely to attract first time spectators at that sort of price. oh and the food and drink was a rip off. The rabbit had a Caribbean burger (sic) at £6 ($9.10) which although not bad was about the size of a button and shared some potato wedges at £3 ($4.70). Not to mention 2 pints of beer at £6.80 ($10.67). What it is to be a captive market...

And finally and just because it came to mind, here is the original Long Black Veil by Lefty Frizzell (great name by the way). A cautionary tale...

And finally finally and with Hat Tip to Charon QC, here is his take on the great global non-functioning Blackberry disaster.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Still stupidly busy...

The rabbit is still busy and has just finished trying to clear the paperwork backlog at 7.45pm on Sunday evening. Three more sets of papers to go. Still, it hasn't been all work. The rabbit caught more cricket - England v West Indies 20/20 on Friday night - pic and comments to follow and saw Kill List last night. Review to follow but no time now.

It has also caught the rabbit's attention that The Selecter (see above) are performing at Fairfield Halls, Croydon on the 17th November - 15 minutes walk from the present rabbit residence - and the rabbit would like to go. But can't think who would like to go with him. Boo Hoo! First online offer to tag along accepted. How sad is that?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Silence and elk...

The rabbit would like to apologise for recent blogsilence which is due to his life having been taken over by a huge conspiracy to import cannabis case. The case continues for probably another two weeks but normal rabbiting will be resumed as soon as possible. In the interim, here is a jolly story from Sweden to keep readers going with Hat Tip to Mahal and BBC news.

"A homeowner in southern Sweden got a shock when he found a drunken elk stuck in his neighbour's apple tree.
The animal was apparently on the hunt for fermenting apples when she lost her balance and became trapped in the tree.

Per Johansson, from Saro near Gothenburg, found the elk making a roaring noise in the garden next door.
 He called the emergency services, who helped him free the boozed-up beast by sawing off branches. She spent the night recovering in the garden.

The next day she took herself off into the woods with her hangover.

It is not unusual to see elk, or moose as they are known in North America, drunk in Sweden during autumn, when there are plenty of apples about.

Other residents of Saro had seen the elk on the loose in the preceding days.

Mr Johansson said the elk appeared to be sick, drunk, or "half-stupid", the Associated Press reported".


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Bad taste day, la tomatina, appendage and gift

With Hat Tip to Peter Harvey, the rabbit's attention has been drawn to an annual event in the Spanish village of Bunoi called 'la tomatina'. The streets run red - not with blood but with - erm - squashed tomatoes as up to 40,000 tomato throwers turn up and throw tomatoes at each other. As you do.

There are strict rules to la tomatina: the tomatoes must be crushed to lessen impact, old clothes are to be warn and tennis shoes are to be worn rather than sandals. One can easily imagine a sandal floating away in a torrent of pureed tomatoes. A common problem, I'm sure all will agree. Goggles are advised. One website announces 'there is no political or religious significance to la tomatina'. Ermmm... Quite so. It was banned for a while under Franco, though. Puts you right off tomatoes - as in eating them - apparently.

It is the rabbit's unpleasant duty to advise his readers that Hurricane Irene did not stop bad behaviour on the part of at least one reprobate as can be seen from this news clip. Such behaviour is of course to be deprecated, particularly in such a difficult time. Hat Tip to Tony who does an exceedingly fine blog. For those of a sensitive disposition well - look away now.

Continuing the bad taste theme, the rabbit mentioned the Velvet Underground's The Gift in all its poor taste in a comment on JoJo's blog . Apparently it originates from a short story Lou Reed wrote in a creative writing class but it's the way John Cale tells it...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Rabbit at the cricket, Libya, East Coker and Jerry Lieber

The rabbit hopped off to the last day of the last England v India Test Match (that's as in international cricket American persons) and took some pictures on his phone cam. Here are the photos. Yes the game can last 5 days (as this one did) and still not produce a result (makes sense to me) but in fact there was aresult and England won and thus became officially the best team in the world and got a seriously dangerous looking mace as trophy to prove so. The game was at the Oval in south London, a ground the rabbit is very fond of. The above pic is of the Vauxhall end.

Above is a view straight across the ground from the rabbit's seat. I think it's Anderson bowling to Tendulkar but I might be completely mistaken about that. I should say that though I wanted England to win and do a whitewash, I wanted to see Tendulkar get his hundredth international century too. As it turned out, he got out on 91 and remains stranded on 99 international centuries.

For the sake of completeness, here is the view towards the pavilion end. the light was not on my side on this one. The players are on a drinks break hence the huddle of white clad people on the pitch.

By mid afternoon the crowd got skittish and started a Mexican wave. I think this is the Mexican wave heading our way but it isn't very clear. Sorry about that.

And this is the moment that England won. I detest nationalism but confess to being something of a patriot.

This photo is from the awards ceremony at the end. At first on reviewing the pictures I couldn't work out why I took it, then I remembered being amused by the small boy on his father's shoulders waving an oversized blue hand about.

While on the subject of small boys, here is the England cricket lion, purchased for the newest and smallest rabbit on the day.

On a completely different topic, I then spent until far too late on Monday evening watching events in Tripoli on tv. It must be said - although it gives me no pleasure - Sky News had the BBC knocked into a cocked hat as to coverage. While the BBC had endlessly repeated footage from earlier that day and talking heads, Sky had Alex Crawford on one of the Mad Max style rebel vehicles as it drove deeper and deeper into Tripoli. Compulsive viewing and huge credit to Alex Crawford who will surely win some sort of award for pluckiness and drama.

East Coker (above) is a village in Somerset associated with T.S. Eliot and in particular his Four Quartets, the second of which is entitled East Coker - yes folks, the one beginning 'in my beginning is my end'. Now Eliot was a difficult man and some of his racial attitudes in particular cannot be excused but I would give just about any body part (no, not that one, there are limits) to write poetry like he did. Try The Wasteland for size. What can I say apart from pure genuis? Don't attempt to answer that. It's a rhetorical question.

In any event a campaign is afoot. There is a proposal to build 3,700 houses nearby on the fringes of Yeovil on what is presently open arable land.

People need houses and I am against nimbyism (not in my back yard) but no. Not there. There is a proposal to go for world heritage status for East Coker if that is what it takes to stop the development. The rabbit says leave East Coker as it is!

And finally, the rabbit was sad to learn that Jerry Lieber of Lieber and Stoller fame died the other day. They wrote the above - among a lot of other stuff. Enjoy!