29 April, 2009
Perhaps we ought to give up on language and just give every concept a number.
(Or perhaps not. "Twenty Number Six, please", said the confused drunk to the startled server in the Chinese takeaway.)
26 April, 2009
A very bloodless genocide
Hey guys, there's still five-and-a-half weeks to go till the election. Best slow down a bit or the electorate will start to get smear fatigue.
Not wishing to be left out of the fun, I thought I might offer you the following little observation.
Last Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the infamous radio programme about the Moston by-election was aired, I was standing on the platform of Canning Town station, waiting for a connection and reflecting on Griffin's unfortunate choice of words to describe the ethnic cleansing that is most absolutely not happening in the UK and is so evidently a figment of the man's diseased and paranoid imagination.
I whiled away a couple of minutes playing Spot the White Man. The platform was overflowing with West Africans making their way back to the Occupied Territories after a hard day's doing whatever it is West Africans do. I stood aside as a Lithuanian couple tried to push through with their baby buggy. Afro-Caribbean station assistants bantered cheerily.
Boring of this pastime, I turned to my copy of the Evening Standard and read Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's St George's Day homily.
Yaz has precisely two modes: (a) the victimist rant in which she blames the British and their Empire for everything from ingrowing toenails to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and (b) the patronizing group hug in which she urges "Us British" (and that's the inclusive 'we', of course) to stride forward together to a multi-coloured future in all our shared diversity. On the whole I prefer mode A — it's more honest and coherently written, and it doesn't make the pages of the newspaper stick together. Thursday's piece was firmly rooted in mode B, however.
Due to space constraints — this stuff has to fit in a small bottom-of-page "and finally" slot on the main op-ed page — Yaz cannot develop her "mongrel nation" theme as fully as she might, but she does offer us this
There is an England that pitches itself resentfully against others - the Scots, Europeans, migrants - and another England that embraces difference more ardently than any other tribe in Europe. For St George was a Christian Palestinian with Roman blood. Indeed, African battalions brought over by the Romans were posted at Hadrian's Wall. In 1764, a gentleman's magazine noted there were 20,000 black people in London. Within 50 years they had been absorbed into the population.Ah, yes, those famous African tribes of the Scottish marches. (You know, someone ought to devise a "mongrel nation buzzword bingo" game. Given space, I'm sure someone of Yaz's talent could score a full house every time.)
At least she doesn't describe George as "Turkish". Perhaps not a "swarthy" enough image for her purposes.
Incidentally, I'm not so sure about these 20,000 eighteenth-century London Blacks. I'm sure I read somewhere that there is no genetic trace of them in the current population. Perhaps they were not so much "absorbed" as simply "died out", unable to find any locals who were up for a shag, to put it delicately. I've not been able to phrase a successful search term — anybody any info?
Anyway, so much so business-as-usual. Yaz concludes her modest proposal to reshape the British in her image thus
The pride of England is raised by contradictory traditions; it is about argument. Perhaps argumentativeness is a particularly English characteristic - and it is alive and kicking today. Reactionaries and racists who used to control St George's Day and its meaning have lost ground to those who are happy that England is an open and cosmopolitan nation, with more mixed blood and cultural hybridity than the other three nations of the UK. At the same time, though, the BNP is gaining support and hostility to the EU and immigration is rising. Many native Englanders now prefer that label to British - too messy, too diverse, too full of bloody foreigners.Honestly girl, stick to the hate and resentment, please! But let's have a look at that last paragraph again.
So I am happy to join in today but will I be accepted or rejected? Is the sight of a young Sikh boy sporting a red cross an insult or an honour for England? That is the question. My daughter, who has my colouring and whose father is English, is the answer. The future is hers and in England or at least London. So I wish us all a very merry day and raise a glass - to England and the swarthy St George.
My daughter, who has my colouring and whose father is English, is the answer. The future is hers and in England or at least London.Unfortunately there is an uncorrected typo in that second sentence*. It's also present in the printed version. Are there no subeditors any more? But the meaning is clear enough, and I don't think it's just a neutral statement of demographic fact, either, not after all that build-up. There is deeply offensive note of triumphalism in that sentence. A subtext of racial arrogance and supremacism which would get a White writer banged up. Let me gloss it for you.
The future of England (or at least London) is brown. So stuff you White native whingers, you don't matter any more. We have won. We are taking over."Bloodless genocide", eh? Doesn't sound quite so paranoid now, does it?
*Update 27 Apr 2009
On re-reading, that isn't a typo, merely an ellipsis. The sentence construes as
The future is hers and [it is] in England or at least London.Not that the sense is changed, or that the article is any less obnoxiously triumphalist thereby. Possibly marginally more so, in fact.
25 April, 2009
Do I really exist?
Sarfraz (or some anonymous sub) titles his piece "Bad news, the BNP says I don't exist", referring to a widely-favoured paraphrase of one of the choicer items from the "leaked" document. After wading through over 400 comments which trot out all the usual tropes about the British being a mongrel nation, a nation of immigrants, mentions of the Celts, the Basques, the Anglo-Saxons, the Huguenots and in all probability (I may have nodded off), Black soldiers on Hadrian's Wall, as well as the good old fallback that we are all the children of Africa, I am beginning to wonder if I, a White British person of mixed English and Irish heritage, actually exist myself, or am I just a figment of Sarfraz' imagination?
Actually the BNP's assertion — and unlike the Sanctimonious Ones, I have actually taken the trouble to read the offensive document in question — is that there is a distinction between citizenship and ethnicity, that being born in the UK and hence entitled to UK citizenship under the country's jus soli-oriented nationality laws does not somehow automatically confer British ethnicity, that the two categories are separate, with social, cultural and possibly legal consequences.
Well, you can argue that one among yourselves, but in most parts of the world that would be a perfectly natural tenet that nobody would blink an eye at. Most people outside the liberal West would be puzzled that you bother to discuss the matter expliclitly.
Suppose I had been born and raised in Delhi rather than Manchester. Not so far fetched a conceit as to be beyond a small thought experiment anyway. My parents were actively considering emigrating to Australia after the War and I came within a few quid (they couldn't quite scrape together the requisite moolah) of being born in Sydney. If my father had done his Second World War military service in the Army in the Far East rather rather than as RAF ground crew in the UK (he started his working life as an engineer), he might just have taken it into his head to stay on and settle in post-war India, bringing my mother (his childhood sweetheart) out to join him. Anyway, under such a scenario, plausible or no, I rather suspect that "real" Indians would not just balk, but be totally puzzled, if I claimed to be Indian or even Indian British. However well I integrated.
And I don't seem to hear of people trying to justify mass immigration to India or China on the grounds that "we are all African under the skin". I'd love to see them try that one on.
But the Righteous seem to have won a small victory in this current phase of the pre-Euro smear cycle, and the CiF comment thread becomes not so much the usual dialogue of the deaf as an outright wankfest. They must all be completely knackered and probably quite sore too.
Whether or not it's is a Good Thing remains to be seen. But while they are recovering, let's look at something more important.
One of the unspoken assumptions underpinning the let 'em all in, all the same colour under the skin, we are importing necessary skills to replace feckless young natives, ageing population will need support brigade is that the newcomers think like them. Despite all the talk of celebrating vibrant diversity, the unacknowledged and crucial assumption is that minority-ethnic immigrants, or at least their UK-born descendants, are all potential 'coconuts'.
"Coconuts" is, tellingly enough, a term commonly seen as abusive. It refers to a person who is Brown (or Black) on the outside, but White on the inside. The post-national, Enlightenment-minded White Liberal looks upon his Brown or Black brother and says, "Come on in, the benefits are lovely, let us all be friends". But does the Brown/Black man consider you his brother?
Oh, some will. Many will and many have integrated and even assimilated. I'm sure Sarfraz and many of the CiF commenters fall into that category. But as the numbers rise, as distinct 'communities' achieve a size sufficient to support a self-contained, inward-looking culture, and as the overseas sources become both more exotic and more numerous, will they consider the White host their brother or, as the so-called 'traveller' communities have long done, simply as an abundant prey animal to be exploited?
It is a question that Laban has touched on repeatedly, albeit in more restrained and delicate terms, most recently in this post today. Unlike the excellent Laban, I am a shameless and uncouth thug, so I will put the matter less delicately.
Remember those nice Somali people whose high fertility was going to supply the labour force of the future? When you are in your dotage, will their grandchildren be saying, "the White man is our brother who helped my people in the past, we are all one people now and must support him in return", or will it be a case of "Wipe your own arse, White sucker, this is my Tribe's place now. Why I should I help you? And by the way, that care home is just the right size for my extended family, so you can all just fuck off."
You may strive mightily and save the Bengal tiger from extinction, but he will still eat you if he is hungry.
* Update 30 Apr 2009
Perhaps wisely, the BNP have since edited their handbook to reduce the scope for this kind of attack. The document now at the posted link is not the version on which the "leaked handbook" smear campaign was based. I have not at the time of writing read the new version and have no comment on it.
23 April, 2009
The headless chickens enter a parallel universe
... leaked to an anti-fascist group and seen by the BBC ...I presume that they mean the document which may be found on the BNP website at Organiser Guides => General Guides => Language Discipline. By all means challenge the policies and views of the BNP, but what's with all the spurious cloak and dagger bollocks, pretending that this is all some secret fash plot to overthrow decent British society, revealed to a shocked public through the bravery of Gerry's crack espionage team, immersing themselves selflessly and at great personal risk in the company of fascist filth?
Searchlight/UAF seems to be rapidly turning into a real-life enactment of Our Man in Havana.
Now, I'm not a BNP member or supporter, despite what the binary-minded Righteous Left may have by now concluded, but I am quite prepared to "sully" my browser cache by visiting their website. It took me only a few clicks to locate this document. Not only that, I have actually read it. Like the Activists' and Organizers' Handbook which made such a shock-horror splash in the meeja the other day, much of it is practical advice about conduct in day to day campaigning and activism in a potentially hostile environment.
Worse than that, chaps, the views expressed chime very closely with those of ordinary British people. And I don't mean with the views of some stereotypical, frothing, "skinhead, tattoos and Doc Martens" Nazi sociopath who dreams of rounding all the nignogs up at gunpoint and driving them into the sea. I mean ordinary decent White folks. The people who get on quite happily with their neighbour Winston, the retired bus driver, his ex-nurse wife and their fine grown-up kids, and with that nice Mr Patel who runs the corner shop and who agrees with them in their dislike of the rough Somali youths on the estate and their grasping parents, and of the nasty criminal Pikey vandals down at the junk-strewn campsite.
Are Winston and Mr Patel British? Or their UK-born offspring? What about the Somali kids, born in the UK but living in their own little ethnic bubble, antagonistic to the surrounding Other? Possibly, possibly not, possibly partially. There is nuance here. There is a grey boundary region here (if you'll pardon the use of a colour metaphor in this fraught context). There are processes of integration, accommodation and assimilation which stretch over time, possibly generations, and which are not necessarily guaranteed a successful outcome.
There is a degree of subtlety here, of — to use that word again, nuance — which the binary-minded Left cannot grasp. While most of us real people would balk at the purist exclusivity espoused by at least some of Mr Griffin's mob, we equally reject the countervailing simplistic view of their opponents, that anyone in the world is entitled to live here and that merely being born within the purlieus of this Sceptr'd Isle ipso facto makes you as 'British' as someone like me, most of whose ancestors have probably been here since the days when you'd nip down the local Sainsbury's cave for a pound of mammoth steak, even if we have to constantly redefine British identity to accommodate you. The British are, after all, merely the tiresome substrate population of this desirable terra nullius and exist solely to make perpetual penance for their sinful past, at least until they are no longer useful and can be conveniently eliminated.
While I'm here, I'll touch on something which perhaps ought to go in a separate post, but sod it. Elsewhere on the Hate Not Hope site, we find this little piece. It transpires that "the fash" are planning to hold some kind of get-together in a boozer in 'Eckmondwike. The good guys of UAF are determined to prevent this — through peaceful dialogue and persuasion only, of course.
Now, I have no inside track on either side of this argument. I follow the activities of both the BNP and the 'anti-fascists' with interest, but I am inclined to treat the pronouncements of both sides with a due measure of sceptism, working on the assumption that even if they do not always speak with yer actual forked tongue, they are most definitely inclined to be economical with the truth in the original Burkean sense of that phrase.
Edmonds [the speaker at the proposed meeing] was due to address a North Kirklees meeting at the Royal Hotel back in November 2008, but after pressure from antifascists the meeting was called off.
Because of the meeting's cancellation the North Kirklees organiser at the time, Ian Roper, was sacked by the Yorkshire regional organiser Adrian Marsden.
As The Royal is a Free House we are asking people to ring the pub and POLITELY lodge their complaint with the management.
The Royal Hotel's telephone number is xxxxx xxxxxx.
We have proven already what can be done in November.
Whenever the UAF succeeds in preventing a BNP meeting going ahead, it will always claim to have achieved this by politely and quietly persuading or reminding the venue manager of how vile the BNP are, with the result that the manager, recoiling with shock and revulsion, cancels the booking forthwith.
Forgive me if I find this scenario less than entirely convincing where the venue is a pub or club. In over 40 years of quiet unassuming serial debauchery I have come to know a good many publicans. While very few of them conform exactly to Al Murray's pub landlord stereotype, they are invariably people of strong character, worldliness and robust good sense, most commonly exhibiting the pragmatic centre-right political worldview of the small businessman.
— "Royal Hotel."Possibly. But somehow the following seems just a tad more plausible.
— "Good Evening. I'm ringing on behalf of Unite Against Fascism. I understand you have a room booking on behalf of the British Heritage Party."
— "Oh, yes?"
— "Do you realize that these people are in fact the British National Party, a bunch of fascist racist Nazi scum?"
— "Really? Good God! That's terrible. Thank you for telling me. I'll cancel the booking straight away."
— "Royal Hotel."And if that's democracy then, as Ian Hislop might put it, I'm a banana.
— "This is the UAF. We understand you've got a BNP meeting booked for the 23rd."
— "Yes, what of it?"
— "Well, you just might like to reconsider, Sunshine, or a squad of enraged crusties might just turn up, entirely spontaneously of course, and start trashing the place. Entirely up to you, of course. Nothing to do with us, of course, we resolutely deplore violence and intimidation. But sometimes people's natural revulsion towards the fash gets the better of them. Just thought it was only fair to let you know."
21 April, 2009
Throwing their headless chickens out of the pram
Yesterday, Laban provided us with a brief summary of the increasingly panicky anti-BNP smearing campaign in the run-up to the Euro elections.
The other day I noted how Searchlight/UAF's Hate not Hope is so desperate for material that it is reduced to looking for sinister fascist implications in Easter eggs and pointing out minor spelling errors in fash internal emails. For its latest news item, HNH is so hard up for dirt to dish on the fash that it has resorted to posting internal news.
At Harry's Place, Edmund Standing has gone berserk, putting out ever longer and more abstruse pieces exposing the inner nastiness of the BNP. Poor chap must be absolutely knackered. To be honest, I haven't given them all the undivided forensic attention they doubtless deserve — they read a bit like Dave Spart's doctoral dissertations as edited and annotated by Noam Chomsky (or possibly vice versa: is there much difference?). I had to read a fair amount of Chomsky's linguistics oeuvre for my degree course, and that was quite enough of him to be going on with, thank you very much. But the gist of Brother Standing's ramblings appears to be that Nick Griffin is in fact an illegitimate great-grandchild of Adolf Hitler and is planning to establish the Fourth Reich with the aid of the Illuminati.
We knew that already, Edmund. I did mention it to the geezer in the pub with the pint of Foster's and the bag of salt-and-vinegar, but all he wanted to talk about was Bangladeshis hogging the GP's surgery when his wife was ill and how his kids kept being beaten up at school by little Somali thugs. He did say something about how that Hitler geezer at least made the trains run on time, but he was well onto his sixth pint at the time, so I couldn't really follow his thread.
At Pickled Politics, concern is (or certainly should be) growing for Sunny's mental stability. The man whose insufferably smug facial expression makes him a shoo-in for the second most punchable Asian in British politics* seems to have been losing coherence steadily for the past month or two and is lashing out at random as his carefully honed brand of superficially inclusive racial particularism — a sort of victimism lite with styling by Terence Conran — starts to seriously lose traction.
But the most bizarre episode in the current hysteria-fest is the Strange Case of the BNP Handbook. In a story exclusive to all newspapers (© Lord Gnome), the anti-fascist sleuths at Searchlight (prop. G. Gable) managed to get hold of a copy of this insidious document through intrepid undercover work. Either that or downloaded it from the BNP website (look under Organiser Guides). I've read it, it's truly shocking stuff. It talks about the importance of looking presentable when canvassing, about how to leaflet sensibly, about how to avoid confrontation with provocative opponents. While clearly tailored to the particular circumstances, status and reputation of the BNP and its relationship with its various committed opponents, it reads exactly like you'd expect the organizer's handbook of any campaigning organization or political party to read. Go on then, dig out the Labour equivalent and "compare and contrast".
All very strange. There's something going on, isn't there? Go on, you can tell me. I can take it.
* Sorry, Sunny, The Oleaginous Vaz has got first prize well and truly sewn up. You've absolutely no chance.
20 April, 2009
Call a spade a what?
...a grumpy old git who is quite prepared to call a spade a black bastard.It occurs to me that this is perhaps a little too terse for its own good, and is likely to attract the wrath of the Righteous. I have been meaning to post a gloss, elaborating what I mean by this pithy little pun.
The Righteous have duly pounced, in the guise of Epping Forest BNP Watch, tireless scourge of the fash in North East London. EFBNPW (if I may be so familiar), avoids addressing the issues in a comment thread on Harry's Place by picking on the phrase as an ipso facto demonstration of my vile wrongness, a little ad hom. diversionary tactic commonly deployed by people who are losing an argument.
If the reader will indulge me, I will simply cut and paste here my own follow-up comment on Harry's Place, seeing as wot I have already wrote it.
I will leave you with a little anecdote illustrating the difference between non-racism and anti-racism.
As ever you distort to suit your own tunnel-visioned agenda.
I didn’t say I like to call a spade a black bastard, I said I am now prepared to call a spade a black bastard. There is a difference - but then you don’t really do nuance, do you?
Apart from it being quite a good pun, the point I intended by that compact phrase is this:-
For the past 40 years a pervasive cult of Anti-Racism (as opposed to non-racism, which is an entirely different matter) has applied in this and other “Western” societies. It has assumed almost the status of a second state religion and carries massive social pressure towards compliance. The Anti-Racist religion encourages “people of colour” to view themselves as perpetual victims and it bullies “people of pallor” into accepting the role of guilty oppressor, forever called upon to offer apology and reparation.
In this environment it has become unacceptable for a White person to speak even slightly negatively of a Black person, however much the latter may deserve it, without being condemned as a racist - in itself a socially fatal stigma - and quite possibly incarcerated into the bargain. A Black person can do no wrong, any wrong that he does commit being a justified response to oppression.
I have finally broken free of that yoke. I continue to interact with Black and Brown people as individuals, taking each one as I find him. Some, in my long experience, are diamond geezers and some are indeed bastards, while most, as you would expect, fit somewhere in between.
But I find I am no longer cowed into pretending that a man is not a “bastard” just because he is Black and that as a White man I must make due allowance for his victimhood.
Just for you, Sunshine, and just for the duration of this comment, I will restore the final clause of my sentence which I elided for improved rhetorical effect:
… a grumpy old git who is quite prepared to call a spade a black bastard, if he clearly deserves that appellation.
Around 1975 I was working as an office wallah. In those days, while there might well have been an ashtray on every desk, there was no computer. A large office building might have a room tucked away somewhere with a couple of mainframe terminals, but that was your lot. Most internal communications were hand-written, and the equivalent of today's email thread would be a stack of A4 or A5 sheets of manuscript, held together with India tags, and moved around by frequent internal mail deliveries. (If you've ever encountered reams of blank A5 with a hole punched in one corner in the forgotten dusty recesses of the stationery cupboard, that is what the hole is for.) More formal documents were drafted in manuscript and sent to the typing pool for typing up.
The typists were expert at deciphering poor handwriting but on this occasion the chairman's amendment to the minutes I had sent for typing had defeated the young lady. (Hint: when drafting minutes, always include a couple of deliberate minor errors. This allows the chairman to demonstrate that he has read and approved the draft by correcting them, but leaves the substance of your draft intact.)
I reported to the superintendent of typists, who pointed out the young lady who was doing my work. In front of me were about 20 young women sitting at small desks arranged in a 5×4 layout. It wasn't absolutely clear at whom she was pointing, so I sought clarification.
"Do you mean the Black girl?"
In my non-racist naïveté, this seemed perfectly reasonable. Of the 20 typists, 19 were White and one was Black. (This was 1975, remember, there were a lot fewer Black people around.) It was her most salient feature in that particular context.
But this was the era of Anti-Racism. You will be familiar with the concept of "social temperature", of some transgression getting a cold response, a chilly reception. It was as if an Arctic blast had blown through the room. The chill was almost physical.
Anti-Racism had promulgated the concept of "colour-blindness". In intent, this was simply a matter of non-discrimination: when, for example, recruiting someone for a job, you should be "blind" to their "colour". As it worked out in practice, colour-blindness came to mean not seeing colour. You actually had to pretend not to notice someone's ethnicity. In practice, not discriminating against Black people came to mean pretending that they were White, a frankly bizarre inversion of the intent.
So when I referred to the young lady's ethnicity, treating it simply as a salient and matter-of-fact distinguishing feature so that I could identify her within the group, it was as if I was drawing unwelcome attention to a physical disfigurement. It was as if I had said, "Do you mean the ugly fat tart with the squint and the goitre?" The pernicious cult of Anti-Racism had produced the effect of Black ethnicity being seen as an unfortunate condition that polite people didn't mention or even notice.
It was a concept I struggled with. But one learns to fit in and soon I was not noticing people's colour, even when it was relevant, and indulging in righteous circumlocution with the best of them. A wise man does not stroll down the Falls Road shouting "Fuck the Pope!"
It is a perversity which persists to this day, but I celebrate the fact that I am now free of it. I am happy to call a spade a spade, and if he is a bastard I'll call him that as well.
Oh, and just for good measure, Fuck the Pope! (Under the rules of PC, I am actually allowed to say that because my great-grandparents were Belfast Catholics.)
And in breaking news, it seems that the Epping Forest BNP Watch blog has gone invite-only. Oh dear. Can't take the heat, perhaps?
19 April, 2009
Tales from the Multiculture: an unusual occurrence
It's so rare these days to be able to communicate with a shop assistant in central London without resorting to pidgin, sign language or in extreme cases an actual interpreter, that I momentarily found myself unsure how to proceed.
After finding my voice and executing my purchase, making use of complete English sentences, even venturing a small joke about how I might spend the chancellor's munificent economy-stimulating 2.5% VAT refund on a night of debauchery, I repaired in a state of shock to a nearby hosterlry, where a Polish gentleman furnished me with a pint of Irish stout.
17 April, 2009
Far too fruity for the semi-detached mind
It was not so much the entertaining but inevitable puns on the name of the late Zimeroonian President Canaan Banana in Mark Steyn's linked piece that ruffled the tranquility the semi-detached mind but the earlier quote about Ronnie Laing, a man for whom the epithet "egregious" is altogether inadequate.
Laing, it seems, took righteous exception to that old fraud the Bagwash (the Beatles excepted, didn't we all?) and on one more than usually drunken occasion
... was found sitting on the pavement and muttering obscenities about “orange wankers”.Orange wankers?
A friend, fondly recalling the solitary recreations of his distant adolescence, would often wax lyrical about the suitability of freshly-baked bread for masturbatory purposes. Warm, yielding, far cheaper than a Dutch wife and disposable after use with relatively little danger of embarrassment.
(Now you know the real reason why Napoleon invented the baguette. Stuffing it down infantrymen's trousers is only half the story!)
Oranges, however, seem entirely ill-adapted to the task. Does one peel them first? If so, does one align oneself with the "polar axis" of the fruit for efficient penetration? Are navel oranges to be preferred, these being sterile and hence eliminating the danger of creating a somewhat alarming hybrid?
On a practical level, is the gratuitous additional stickiness resulting from penetration of an orange (or indeed any poor innocent citrus fruit) particularly desirable, or indeed enjoyable? (I would imagine however that the activity might perhaps form a thoughtful precursor to a fellatious encounter.)
There are deep social and moral issues here. The clergy might wish to offer a view, though I suspect the Rev Dr Paisley might have something to say on the matter while Archbishop-elect Vincent wisely maintains a discreet silence.
Oh, and a supplementary question about the matter of Dr Banana, while we're here? Is a sodomite the one that lies on the floor of the cave pointing upwards, or the one that clings to the roof of the cave pointing down? I can never remember; perhaps I need a mnemonic.
14 April, 2009
But of course ID cards are entirely voluntary, Sir
Fair enough, she was banged to rights. But when you've got past that enjoyable little pulse of tittersome Schadenfreude at some smug journo getting the same treatment as the rest of us, take a look at this bit.
... They wanted ID. I produced a credit card, a Press card, a business card for this newspaper and, to top it all, a Matalan card. How amazingly normal could I be? But it wasn’t good enough. By now I was mystified. And late. And annoyed. ‘We want a driving licence or a passport.’Now, as someone who probably spends rather too much time in pubs, it has not escaped my notice that bar staff are punctilious about checking the age of younger customers to confirm that they are at least 18 years old. Hardly surprising, given that individual bar staff can be fined £1000 for serving an under-age customer. But what confirmation of age is acceptable? Well, with some exceptions (for example, Wetherspoons support the Citizencard scheme), most pubcos go for "driving licence or passport". Not "driving licence or passport or something of equivalent credibility", but "driving licence or passport only" — or bugger off.
‘Do most people get on the bus with a driving licence?’ I asked. Another guy came over and said ‘Is she being difficult?’ Apparently I was. So the real police had to come and sort me out.
Another anecdote, from personal experience. When I left the employ of MegaCorp Inc early last year, I found myself in the position of having to pay for my own mobile phone calls. MegaCorp had its faults as an employer, but it took a relaxed and pragmatic attitude to a limited level of personal use of company-issued mobiles. I am not of those generations which get withdrawal symptoms and panic attacks if they are not in permanent voice contact and company-issue phones met both my business and my modest personal needs satisfactorily for 15 years. (My first mobile was an analogue Ericsson jobbie with a battery an inch thick. It grew too hot to handle after 10 minutes' talk. That alone kept conversations short and to the point. What all that rampant RF has done to my brain is something I prefer not to think about.)
MegaCorp kindly allowed me to keep my old number when I left and, armed with a friend's cast-off handset, I betook myself to a branch of O2 to sort out a SIM-only contract. Everything went well. Details registered. Regular credit card payment set up. On-line creditworthiness check completed. (For £15 a month, FFS?) And then they wanted ID. Why's that? Standard procedure, Sir. What sort of ID? Passport or driving licence, sir. I see. Any alternatives acceptable? No sir, passport or photo driving licence only, sir. Otherwise no deal.
So the contract went into the shredder. The shop assistant, who had the good grace to be embarrassed, assured me that all the other service providers did the same thing. Whether that was true or just face-saving bullshit I have no idea; I didn't put it to the test. I popped into the nearest T-Mobile shop and bought a PAYG SIM, which, surprisingly, you can still do anonymously in this bloody country. No names, no pack drill, no credit check, no passport, no driving licence. Just hand over a grubby fiver for the starting top-up and off you go.
Let's go through those cases again, shall we?
If you are caught without a valid travel ticket, it is not unreasonable that you should be required to provide satisfactory confirmation of your identity and address if you choose not to pay or are unable to pay the penalty fare on the spot, so that the authorities may with confidence find you and mulct you for your sin in the fullness of time. Mickey Mouse and that ubiquitous Polish miscreant Prawo Jazdy really must not be allowed to get away with taking the piss like they do. Fair enough. But "satisfactory confirmation" needs to mean whatever actually and reasonably works, not "what we find convenient". If you do settle the fine there and then, I suppose you could argue it both ways. On balance, we are not talking about murder here and I'd say that should be the end of the matter.
As to under-age drinking, yes bar managers and staff need to be satisfied that the customer is old enough. Whether you can do this as a matter of discretion and judgment or require something more formal and definitive is perhaps more a function of the Government's draconian approach to enforcement than anything else, but if you do need to go the formal route, then reasonable flexibility of proof and schemes like Citizencard should be universally supported.
As to the mobile phone thing, it annoys me to this day. First of all, why the creditworthiness check? I recently spent £800 in a shop, paid by card — no ID, no name and address, no nothing — and walked off with the goods there and then. It's not even as if I was asking O2 to trust me with an expensive handset, the cost of which had to be amortized over the term of a contract, during which time I might skip the country or something. It was a month-by-month SIM-only deal. In the event of default, they could have centrally disabled that SIM with a couple of keystrokes. There was no risk. But that's just the credit aspect. What of the ID requirement? Precisely what business is it of O2 who the fuck I am? For purposes of payment the credit card detail should suffice; beyond that it really is none of their business that I am in fact Michael J Mouse Jr, or Richard Head, or John Thomas, or, heaven forfend, Aloysius Windowlicker III.
As it happens, the PAYG alternative was not only available but given my modest requirements, actually the better deal. But what if anonymous PAYG had not been available? (I'm frankly surprised that it still is). Or what if my usage requirements were such that a proper contract represented a significant saving?
So what's the big deal, you ask? Everybody's got a passport or a driving licence. Most people have both. What's the problem with showing them when asked? It's not some kind of personal affront. Hey, it just makes life so much easier for everybody.
I don't have a driving licence because I don't drive. Apart from anything else my eyesight is at best marginal for driving — I don't know if they still do the "number plate at 25 yards" thing, but last time I tried, even with my specs, I could only pass by inspiried guesswork. I live in an urban environment with good public transport and I manage quite nicely, thank you. On those occasions where private transport is needed, a friend or a professional can be called upon.
As to passports. Well, I have had passports in the past, but they have long since expired. I haven't been out of the country in at least 15 years and I have no particular interest in doing so in the foreseeable future. I no longer foresee any business requirement for foreign travel and, while a Eurostar trip to the near continong is tempting, recreational travel by aeroplane further afield holds no attraction whatever. I'm not scared of flying, it's just a crap way to travel and, taken all in all, a sufficient disincentive. Your mileage, as they say, may well vary. But why should I be required to apply for a document I don't otherwise need for its primary and entirely legitimate purpose simply so I can carry it round with me to show to ticket inspectors and mobile phone salesmen.
So there you have it.
Oh no, ID cards — or their interim equivalent — are entirely voluntary, Sir. You don't have to have a passport or a driving licence, Sir, and you don't have to carry them with you at all times, Sir. It's entirely up to you, Sir. Mind you, it isn't half going to make life difficult I should very well imagine, Sir. But that's entirely up to you, Sir. It's a free country after all, Sir. By the way, Sir, are those shoes you're wearing licensed for use on the public footpath? No proof, Sir? Just step this way, please. No, I'm afraid you'll have to take them off, Sir. They're evidence, you see.
12 April, 2009
Scraping the greasy barrel
They all do it, and it is alternately funny and irritating to watch them at it. On second thoughts, no. The tunnel-visioned certainty and self-delusion of these wankers is in reality quite frightening insofar as some of their ilk are actually set in real executive and legislative power over us.
The degree of desperation implicit in each piece of aggrandisement or denigration* can be a useful barometer of the relative state of the parties. Perhaps some enterprising political academic or anorak can devise a set of metrics so that we can score the state of play "scientifically".
By any measure, this piece of nonsense on the Hope not Hate site does not look good for the strength of the "anti-fascist" cause.
It transpires that Simon Darby, the BNP's No 2, has been to a gathering of like-minded souls in Italy. Apparently (I have not cross-checked), the BNP website erroneously reported this as taking place in Rome rather than Milan. A tad careless but hardly a harbinger of the imminent collapse of civilization, is it?
On his return, Mr Darby was to attend a meeting with other BNP officials. It would appear — and if you are of a sensitive nature you might wish to sit down and take a couple of deep breaths before reading on — it would appear that the fiend Darby has brought back some Italian Easter eggs as gifts for his colleagues. The gifts, according to HNH, are attendance incentives to compensate for the fact that the BNP has been forced, as a desperate resort, to hold the meeting on Easter Saturday when no decent politician would be working. (Isn't that right, Gordon?)
Finally, the HNH writer adduces as conclusive and irrefutable evidence of the renowned terminal ignorance and stupidity of BNP types, a copy of en email relating to the Easter Egg Meet, complete with the original grammatical errors. And what are these errors? Well, it seems that Mr Butler, the author of the email, is a little casual about the convention of using initial capitals in the names of days, months and place names. Oh, and he has misspelt Stansted. And if you really want to be picky, he's dropped the apostrophe in Bishop's Stortford, though personally I'd say there's some leeway with that one. Like, er, wow, man, that's really gross an' stoopid.
Perhaps he's an e.e. cummings fan. If I were marking his English 'O' level, I might dock him a mark or two, but this is hardly major league higgerance, is it, chaps? I've seen a damned sight worse when reading emails written by recent graduate entrants when I was still working at MegaCorp Inc.
If HNH are resorting to this sort of petty crap, things must be pretty desperate. Hint. Don't scrape the bottom of the barrel too vigorously, you'll get splinters.
I have said before that I do not really want this blog to be seen as a BNP support site. You can get that elsewhere. If the blog has a major focus (obsession, the unkind might express it), it is on the impact of mass immigration to the UK. But it really is about time the political classes of this country dealt with the fact that the rise of the BNP cannot be held off indefinitely with ad hominem sniping, dirty tricks and outright abuse of power. It's not going to go away. There is serious discontent growing in this country, not just about immigration. Those in or near power need to be addressing its causes before someone gets hurt, not using their proxies to try and sweep it under the carpet.
On a related topic, here's a slightly more effective smear job from the News of the Screws, related to the same Milan meeting. But look at the comment thread. I don't think the proles are buying into the propaganda, chaps.
* denigration: Can I use this word any more, or will Uncle Trevor's mob be sending the Old Bill round with a warrant? Oh well, at least when I'm banged up I won't have to worry about the value of my pension.
05 April, 2009
Not so damned clever these Chinese
A Chinese restaurant has been raided by immigration officers for the second time in five months.
Eleven suspected illegal immigrant workers were arrested by UK Border Agency officials after they raided China China in Preston Street, Brighton.
Six of the suspected illegal immigrants arrested yesterday were the same workers caught by officials in the previous raid in October last year.
The owner of China China, which is one of Brighton’s best known Chinese restaurants, now faces a potential fine of £110,000 on top of the £55,000 fine he received when his business was first raided.
I thought the Chinese were supposed to be clever. This smacks more of obtuseness or arrogance.
The Argus called China China yesterday but received no reply or comment.Inscrutability will get you nowhere in this case, old son.
However, look again.
Six of the suspected illegal immigrants arrested yesterday were the same workers caught by officials in the previous raid in October last year.Why are these six still here?