Monday, October 6, 2008

meet my folks

For publication in 'The Guardian' (see previous post)

I belong to the tribe of the Cornish, though many consider us a separate country, if not nation. My native village, Carnkie, nestles under the stark boulder-scattered acres of Carn Brea, which shows evidence of once being the home of a stone-age tribe. My folks, though comparatively uneducated, knew more than most current graduates. My father, who was totally without racial prejudice or political correctness, tipped his cigarette-ash into an ashtray held by a little wooden black servant wearing a red frock-coat and breeches. Since there were no takeaways, the only Asians we saw were inscrutable, mostly sinister Chinese in the movies.

My father's cousin Bertie was deaf-and-dumb. My mother, in a scatty moment, once whispered that to friends, behind his back so that he wouldn't hear her. My Auntie Nellie, robbed of marriage by her fiance's WW1 death, was a career woman, running a sweet shop; she also fancied herself as a bit of an actress, performing monologues in a posh voice at socials. My father's cousin Jack was very theatrical. No one bothered when, quite late in life, he walked through the village hand in hand with a leather-clad youth. I don't know if he was a practising homosexual; he was just Jack, 'a good old boy'. My Auntie Susan-Jane stripped naked in front of the Methodist chapel, and was taken 'up Bodmin' for a mental health diagnosis. Both my mum and Auntie Nellie became disabled through severe arthritis, and my aunt had to be in a wheelchair.

I may have a bit of Italian blood, from an immigrant painter who became involved with a Thomas girl in the 19th century. Though now, as I'm elderly, I think I increasingly resemble my mother, a Moyle. I was a pretty dumb father, early on, and I've become a pretty dumb grandparent, though I love my children and grandchildren very much. None of them has become a terrorist.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

sweet land of liberty

According to today's 'Sunday Times', government ministers have agreed in principle to a plan to spy on us all. Every email we send, every phonecall or text, every website we browse, will be monitored and stored. That's the plan.

Read that paragraph again. No, it's not a mistake. That's what they plan to do. The database will cost 'up to' (i.e. much more than) £12 billion.

You may feel a tad uneasy at the thought of everything you write on email, or say on the phone, being spied on and preserved.

But officials say 'live monitoring is necessary to fight terrorism and crime.'

So that's alright then.

We shall, of course, look to the press to defend our liberties and send such a disgusting, unbelievable plan packing. Such as, notably, the 'Guardian'. I assume the title means that it guards are rights and liberties.

Except that its 'house-style' rules for 'Guardian' writers, exposed today also in the S.T., in an article by Minette Marrin, forbids them to use the following words or phrases: uneducated, acre, Third World, elderly, grandparent, tribe, stone-age tribe, committed suicide, practising homosexual, actress, dumb, disabled, career woman, politically correct (!), blacks, Asians, and in a wheel chair. In addition, the words 'terrorist' should be used with great caution, 'as the concept is subjective'. Similarly the words nation, country and immigrant. 'Mental illness' also should be avoided, in favour of 'mental health'. As in 'mental health diagnosis'.

Oh, it's great to live in a free country.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mr tony blair, an apology

My apologies to Tony Blair, for erroneously posting his photo in my last piece, Ballad of Dr.Shipman. This is the correct photo of Dr Shipman, seen here with a grateful patient..

ballad of dr shipman

Dr Harold Shipman, famous mass murderer
(Shurly some mistake --Ed.)

‘Hello, this is Shipman, your mam’s G.P.;
I dropped in on her, had a cup of tea.’

Hello, Dr Shipman, how terribly kind!
Taking such care of her!’
‘Oh, I don’t mind,

I always think of my dear old mum,
Always so relieved when the doctor had come.

I dropped by to see her daffodils
And check how she’s coped with the winter chills.’

How does she seem to you?’ ‘She looks great,
You’d never believe she was seventy eight.’

You wouldn’t! She’s started a course in Greek!’
‘I doubt she’ll be learning much this week;
And the Saga trip –she’d better forget it.’

Oh dear!… Well, I warned mum she might regret it,
With her knees so bad… You think she shouldn’t go?

‘It’s not what I think, it’s what I know.’

But you just told me—‘ Oh, she’s looking fine,
But I doubt if she’ll make it to seventy nine.
My mum had no luxury coach to Rome,
Just waited for me, her schoolboy son,
Her face at the window, in pain and alone.’

Please, tell me what’s wrong!’ ‘You haven’t a clue!
You thought she was fit. If only you knew!
She’s had a heart condition,
Pulmonary inhibition,
Terrible angina,
A growth in her vagina
Has spread into her womb,
There’s that sickly sweet aroma
I know so well; your mum
Just slipped into a coma,
I think you ought to come.’

Oh God, Dr Shipman, is she going to die?
‘No no… And it’s too late to cry.’

I’m sorry… you’ve sent for an ambulance?
‘What’s the point of it? You can tell at a glance

As she sits here sweetly in her chair
With her pale-blue dress and her silvery hair,

The nice ruby broach she’s promised to me,
Her hands in her lap as calm as can be,

She’s not going to die –she’s not going to do
Anything any more… If I were you,

I’d have her cremated.’ ‘You mean, she’s DEAD?
‘That’s a word I wish you hadn’t said.’

Britain’s most prolific serial killer, with around 186 victims, Dr. Harold Shipman had a delphic way of breaking bad news.