Sunday, 16 May 2010

THE SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT.

BILL AND HILLARY.

And may I take this opportunity, Mrs President Trousers, to remind you that my, ah, principal occupation is as ay, ah, director of ay world-famous tractor-production company, and, ah, earthmoving equipment, too;  well, aha, the Earth moved for me when I got my last cheque from them, aho-ho-ho, and that I am also very big on the after-dinner speaking circuit so, if you or indeed your good man, ah, President Spunky Bill, can shift ay few JCBs in some of your, ah, third world enterprises or if you want someone to enliven ay gastronomic event, then I am sure there would be ay very substantail, ah, drink in it for you both.  Special relationship? Yes, nukes, torture, extradition, whatever you want.

What happened to the guy with the banana? I liked him.

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COMING IN ON A WING AND A PRAYER

(from wiki) The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.[13][14]
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Travers Harris, 1st Baronet GCB OBE AFC (13 April 1892 – 5 April 1984), commonly known as "Bomber" Harris by the press, and often within the RAF as "Butcher" Harris,[2]
 
the aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive...should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany.[17][18]
It should be emphasized that the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.[


Bomber Harris, October 1943,



Crazy business, war;  brings out all sorts, spivs; wretched, shabby,   jingoistic politicians; entreprenuers and brothel-keepers, statesmen and charlatans and from somewhere an inexhaustible supply of those we call heroes.

Since the death of Auberon Waugh, virtually the only thing worth reading in The Daily Filh-O-Graph has been the obituaries page.  Many of the heroes of WW2 are now dead  and their obituaries are less common but, Oh, such stories, such amazing courage, displayed without subsequent, lucrative lifelong fanfare or bookdeals, Life In The Regiment, Let Me Tell You, Of My Valour. Proper warriors don't do this Andy MacNab shit,  their heroism the quiet kind, not a passport to martial celebrity.

But there is, or there should be, a national, blanket recognition of campaigns undertaken, lives lost, interrupted and maimed and often our politicians are selective, playing favourites in this as, damn their I-Know-Best,  rotten souls, everything else.

The  Second World War - for those not Jewish, Russian or German - was, compared to the previous jamboree, relatively risk-free, casualties relatively light, usually numbered in hundreds or low thousands, no butcher's bill being anywhere near the tallies of The Somme or Paschendale or Gallipoli, where lives were pissed away by the ten thousand, unimportant lives, anyway; the possibility of being in actual combat was  relatively slim,  there was fierce fighting, of course, in North Africa and Italy and The Battle of The Bulge and something most unwelcome occurred in Singapore but overall it wasn't so bad, whole villages and suburbs and towns didn't march through barbed wire  and shit to certain machine-gun death and the shell-shocked weren't shot at dawn by their comrades.

But even so there were risky gigs in WW2; some people joined, voluntarily, the submarine service; some were behind-enemy-lines commandoes; some were junked and abandoned, freeze-drowning in the Arctic convoys; others became fighter pilots; many, many merchant mariners died, choking in oil, burning alive, freezing, torpedoed in  the North Atlantic and fifty-five thousand members of Bomber Command died, mainly in the skies over Europe,  their chances of surviving a tour of duty grimmer than those of Field Marshal Snot winning an election, or standing in one.

The treatment of those killed and those surviving  in this industrialised aerial warfare has been abominable;   they have been treated as the niggers, the single mothers, the asylum seekers of their time, even though the numbers of their lost comrades, 55, 575, amount to a tenth of all Britsh service fatalities in the war.

Some of us are scared rigid just sitting in an aeroplane, being shot at, a couple of miles up in the sky, in a flying bomb,  doesn't bear too much thinking about, yet night after night, crews of Wellington and  Stirling and Halifax and then Lancaster bombers took off and flew in formation over Germany, prey to searchlights, anti-aircraft fire, night fighters and mechanical failure.


The Lancaster, after the Spitfire, the most famous, legendary British airweapon of  WW2, sub-sonic, prop-driven and coarse by modern  aeronautical standards was then cutting-edge stuff, bristling with machine guns, four Rolls Royce engines and increasingly sophisticated bombsights eventually enabled high-altitude precision bombing runs; a tight formation could deploy a withering hail of fire against marauding, high-speed fighters,

even so, they were picked off and blew-up in mid-air or cartwheeled from the sky in flames; sometimes the crews had an opportunity to bale out, often they didn't, G-forces, wounds and damage to the aircraft making it impossible;  their comrades, above, willing them to jump, in vain.  Targets were ringed with ack-ack batteries, searchlights stabbing at the bombers like the finger of Death, flak   sometimes maiming and blinding even those who survived and made it home but often bringing them down to fiery death or long imprisonment. It was a shit job, difficult to see how the young men did it,  night after night, seeing their comrades shot down in flames, calculating their own odds, empty spaces in the Mess, as B for Baker or F for Freddie were blackboard-rubbered out of sight,  and neessarily out of mind; recruits and replacements younger than ever, rapid promotion for many, Wing Commanders in their twenties. Today's flyboys, unaccustomed, since the Falklands,  to people shooting back at them, would all be in counselling, sueing for post traumatic stress disorders,  their mothers demanding better armour, better parachutes, insisting that SonnyJim, whom she lovestobits, only joined-up to learn how to fly.


It was the same, brief, dazzling flight career,  although over home turf, in Fighter Command. The missions were shorter, the casualties consisting of individuals, not crews of seven  at a time but  death, sudden or drawn out - by however long it took to crash into the earth at hundreds of miles an hour -  or scorching, horrific, melted disfigurement were  still an odds-on favourite. The Battle of Britain, though, was over in a few months, Bomber Command was ruinously active until the end of the war.

And then it was not so much forgotten as airbrushed-out.

Politicians are the very Devil, even Churchill, by - now-incontrovertible - popular  opinion, our greatest-ever wartime leader, acted like a complete arsehole in his treatment of Bomber Command and especially its leader, Arthur Harris. Despite Harris's thousand-bomber raids of largely civilian targets having been ordered by the Air Ministry, Churchill disowned him and the campaign.

Until now, there has not been an official memorial  to Bomber Command but now,  after a campaign by Telegraph readers, championed, he says, by surviving BeeGee,  Robin Gibb, there is to be one in Green Park, Westminster, London.


It is little enough, after sixty-five years of official neglect, but, Hey, there's always a new war coming along, over which ministers and mandarins, celebrities and newspapers can wax lyrical, standing at the Cenotaph,  their poppies prominent, their heads - and their ethics - up their arses.

Of 125, 000 RAF and Commonwealth aircrew who saw Hell over Germany, there are now three thousand elderly survivors who will see this belated and half-hearted recognition of their service. 

As for the Hun, estimates vary of the death toll on the ground, half a million to a million, sixty thousand in one Dresden night, firestorms consuming all in their path, no retreat, baby, no surrender, the Blitz tenfold, a hundred fold, who knows; Harris's whirlwind reaped, not by squalid Nazi vermin or by stiff-necked, Prussian, Death or Glory motherfuckers but by cobblers and bakers and postmen and tailors, by grandmothers, by frantic, terrified mothers, jumping with their infants into flaming canals. 

But this was not the chosen work of Pilot Officer Jones or Flight Sergeant Smith, or even, strictly speaking, of Arthur Harris and Winston Churchill, this was the work of War, himself, in this case, served by Mr Hitler, in others, such as at Fallujah or in Baghdad, served by ourselves, who have seen so much and learned so little.

It is good, proper and decent, that the RAF dead are honoured, at last,  by those for whom they soiled their hands; a shame their successors, in Harriers and Tornadoes, wreak, still, their fiery havoc, on the heads of children.


Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee,
and while the bombers thunder past, shelter me, from burn and blast, and though I know all men are brothers, let  the firestorm storm on others.



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POLITICS.

THAT OBAMACALL

 THAT YOU, MOTHERFUCKER..?

Yo, motherfucker, Obama here but you all can call me Mr President, just phonin' here to tell you that the deal remains the same as with that other guy, I mean the other one, not the one offa the Reservation in the North, Yeah, MacBrown, Jeez, he still eatin' that shit from out his nose? Fuck me,  Jesus,  that's one mad sonofafuckinbitch, sure am glad to see the back a that communist motherfucker, how come that fruitcake got elected anyway? Oh, he didn't, just kinda came blundering in, gibbering and stuttering and took over the whole damn apparatus of state, no shit?  And that broad, the one looks like somebody beat her with the ugly stick, was she for real? Ya know, when he was out there in front of the Limey White House, sayin' goodbye,  she looked about as happy as a dog shittin' hammer handles, like she really thought that they'd been fucked over, not winnin' the election.  Fuck me, Jesus, she had a face long as the Mississippi River, all screwed-up like there was a pair of chipmunks havin' a fight up her ass, what's she gonna do now, charity fucking work?  I heard she dug with the other foot, all them fags she was so fond of and only did the beast-thing with her old man in exchange for being First Lady For Life and now she got a lifetime ahead of freezin' her ass off in that Presbyterian Hell-hole on the Reservation, nursemaiding McBrown into his final years, pretending they's a young couple, like before, and him dribbling and his dick leaking and his face all wrinkly like a California prune, cussin' every bastard for a bigot or a confuckingservative or a shit-eating, backstabbin',  Blairite motherfucker, sittin' on the Godamned porch, her in some shit-awful dress made outa recycled lemonade bottles  that don't fit and her hairy legs all splayed-out and  him done-up all casual in a suit and no tie,  and those folds in his neck all spillin' out over his open  collar,  only it's too fuckin cold for a porch and he'll be inside, growling and pickin' his fuckin' nose,  him and the local sourfaced, tight-fisted congregation, Lead us Elder Brown, in prayer. Fuck me, and she was a young broad when she met Mr Snot, had her own business and everything. I mean, Dude, enough to break yer fuckin' heart, if you had one. Don't mind if I call ya Dude? So many a you Limey Premeers and Deputy Limey Premeers, it's hard to keep up with all your names, even for a phi beta kappa motherfucking professor of law, like me, do I gotta call that other prick, too, congratulate his yellowbelly ass on sellin' out his troops  and all them suckers who voted for his Ivy League, Man of the fuckin' People jivetalk shit?  Yeah? No sweat, Dude. Maybe I'll get that old bum, Biden, the one with the big hair and the bleachy teeth, to phone the sucker, Veep to Veep. He is your Veep, ain't he? He ain't really in charge of shit, like that dude, Mandelstein was.  You can fuck me backwards to Christmas but I can't see how bringing that fairy back from Europe did anything other than fuck Brown up the ass with a broken bottle. Is he gonna join your team, now?  I heard he's got the shit on lots of you Republicans and can write his own ticket. You just lemme know if you want him  renditioned over here to Guantanamo and some non-torture waterboardin'. No, 'sthe least I can do for a fellow leader. Special relationship stuff.

 Ya still got that swivel-eyed, blinkin' cocksucker, the one got his broad in Congress, too, and them both claiming for everything under the fuckin' Sun, wossisname, Balls, the one with his eyes jerking about like a friggin' lizard, you have lizards there, in Limeyland? Heard tell that yer First Lady, the old Kraut dame, actually was a fuckin' lizard, whole Goddamned Royal fuckin' family was coldblooded, shit-eatin', ermine-wearing, scaly reptile motherfucking sonsafuckinbitches, dropped-in from another fuckin' planet or some shit like that,  we supposed to have  millions a the fuckers livin' under the Mojave Desert just waiting to take over the world and eat all our asses right off, once they got enough of their kind in high places. Can you imagine that, me sittin' down here in the White House having a State banquet with that Frog dwarf or the Kraut carpet-muncher and all of a sudden there's a load a friggin' monsterlizards bitin' my ass off and nothin' the secret service can do about it. Just like I was Kennedy. And they was all lookin' the other way, or hungover, or not where they was supposed to be. Don't hardly bear thinkin' about, do it, Dude?

Got any brothers in your administration?  No, fuck that shit, she ain't a brother, she's a fucking ethnic, Lady Balti? Ain't she from where them Goddamned Talimen bastard motherfuckers come from, Pakiland, the wogs with the nukes, can't call her a brother. No, I mean proper brothers, niggers, y'know, big noses, all squashed-up to fuck, and lips you could stick 'em onto a window with, baseball caps on backways round and them big stupid trainers, all the colours a the fuckin' rainbow and laces spilling-out everywhere,  to trip-up the dumbfucks as they's swaggerin' down the Godamned street,  you know, cut all the trees down an they won't be able to get home, them kinda brothers, the ones who caused all this financial shit, wanting homes and everything, and now you and me and our friends in the banks gotta sort this shit out, so's it don't hurt us too much, you know them brothers that ain't gotta pot to piss in,let alone a window to throw it out, those brothers that was just born to spend their lives in maximum security lockdown, like medieval shit, only worse;  mebbe I can send ya a couple over, be in your administration, just so's you can show willin', like I do, I got a couple, in the cabinet, nothin' serious, best off with the Hymies and the Anafuckingbaptists. Whaddayamean, no brothers, having Liberals in Cabinet is shit enough for any prime minister?  They eat what?  You're shittin' me. What, right up there at the Goddamned table? No? Underneath a glass table that ain't got no glass in it? Jesus  Aitch Fuckin Christ.

But ain't you got no brothers in Limeyland, Ya lock 'em all up or somethin'? No, but ya plan to? You and that baggy-eyed, old broad in the highheels,
sits there in the Limey Congress like a hooker in an Amsterdam window, waiting for business. And she's in charge a the cops and the G-men and the borders? Well, I guess you know what yer doin', Dude, but them old dames, State department's the place for them, just put 'em on a plane and send them the fuck off to all them shithole places that no decent president'd ever wanna set foot in and tell 'em Don't come fuckin' back til ya got a peace process going, or a fuckin' war, don't matter which, Hillary, but knowin' you it'll be war.  That bitch'd start a fight in a empty fuckin' room, she's as welcome round here, Dude, as warm snot on the doorknob.

Well, Dude, now you're the Limey President you'll be busy as a one-armed monkey with two dicks  and I don't mean to take up too much a your time...What...the little guy, used to be leader, the one with the slaphead and the yellow necktie, works for the tractor factory, you're shittin me, Limey State department, the little guy who was born middle-aged, well, long as he knows the score, right,   about the special relationship, where we go, you go,  right, Limey bodies in exchange for gigs on the US lecture circuit, right, yeah, working out fine for that other dude, the faggoty one, thinks he's the Messiah, yeah Tony and Imelda;  ya think, Dude, maybe she's one a them Goddamned Lizard motherfuckers? Anyway, it all worked out fine for them, they got out in time,  so's the SnotPreacher offa the Reservation'd get all the shit runnin' down his neck and not theirs and everybody'd hate his fuckin' guts and want him dead  and not a snowball's chance in Hell that he's gonna get a job peacemakin' - yeah, I know, it's a fuckin' riot, that one  - best thing is gonna be workin' two half-days a week down the Oxfam shop, shufflin' around with all the loonies on medication,  all shakin and stammerin' and fucking-up, everytime they sell a book for fifty cents, messin'-up the change and jammin' the till all up to fuck, embarrassin' theBeJasus outa the fuckin' customer who just wants to get the fuck outa the shop and never ever come back again and see any more a this damaged volunteer gettin' back on his feet shit, not as long as he fuckin' lives, Jesus, no, and how dare these charity bandit fuckdogs say that one in three people's gonna get a mental fuckin' illness, like this freak who can't add-up two and fuckin' two and just stands there in a world of his own,  shakin' and smilin' wanly at some mad, deranged inner secret, that only he knows, and to which he always refers when things go wrong, which is fuckin' always and that's why he should be in the fuckin' loonybin and not out here, embarrassin' normal fuckin' bastards and just wait til Gordon Snot comes on the volunteer rota and see what happens, Oxfam go outa fuckin' business, that's what'll happen, not that it'd make any fucking difference and the vengeful old spinster bitches, tut-fuckin-tuttin' everytime folks run their hands through them raggedy old jumpers and bri-nylon shirts that aren't even any good for moppin'-up dog piss, never mind wearing for one of those compulsory job interviews that you're planning with that psycho bastard, wossisname, The Quiet Man, turning up the fuckin' volume? Fuck me, Dude, that's fuckin' barrel-scraping of a monumental order, what we do with people like him is make him ambassador of some Godforsaken fuckin' banana shithole and have all the natives and local CIA men call him Your Excellency, that normally shuts the bastards up and if it don't, well they're so far away you can't hear them. But anyway the special relationship has worked for Blair and it can work for you, too, Dude, whaddayamean, don't need the money....don't tell me you're a fuckin' communist, too. Your family owns Cheshire, what the fuck is Cheshire?



Yes, Sir, as many as you want, Sir,  friendly fire, enemy action, whatever you like, they're only oiks, yes, some of the officers, too, went to comprehesive schools, some of them;  that's alright, Sir, my pleasure.

...Darling, that was  the American President, damn decent chap, for a junglebunny. No, we won't allow him to come and live here, certainly not.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

On the chimney at Meadow mill Stockport there is a plaque with the names of 22 men all from the same mill who gave their lives in the "Great War" 2 have the same surname, there are given names you don't hear anymore Ellis, Isaac, Walter Ephriam, Herbert. When I left school I worked with a man who had been in both wars, he told stories of how the fodder was went to Ireland for 6 weeks basic training before being shipped to France. He told of one poor sod who was kicked in the throat by a mule all the men went to help him they were told fuck him as they could get another man for a shilling a day go and get the mule. Bliar and Imelda I hope you sleep well knowing the death and destruction you are partly responsible for as from where I sit you need putting on trial instead of standing at a lecturn collecting money.

PT Barnum said...

While I am haunted by the image of Gordon Brown the Oxfam volunteer (although I fear your description of their stock is sadly out-of-date, Mr.I, all posh clobber and fairtrade coffee they are now), it is the airbrushing of war and its combatants that is of much greater weight.

Before WWI war could be regarded as a form of sport, played on a remote field, a series of set pieces in which rules of engagement were obeyed and the best men won. Civilian perception of war went from Playing-Fields-of-Eton-Light-Brigade-Horrible-Heathen-Bashing to barbarism-in-the-name-of-honour-and-freedom. And best to forget the barbarism part, a collective amnesia fostered by those conscripted to fight in the name of something or other.

Now the amnesia, still necessary for our sense of national amour propre, is produced by a tiny handbook of cliches, lazy thinking for the purpose of; mythologic soldiers of titanic morality and courage (while the real ones cannot survive the comparison); and 100 mph news coverage trying to tell us a story with a beginning and end and a moral to boot.

Churchill was a terrible old ham, but what politician espousing war now would dare to mention blood and tears? Better the language of medicine than death and pain, or else the vicious reality might give all who approve the logic of war as noble pause for reflection.

richard said...

My old dad joined up when, as recruits were well aware, the average lifespan on ops was 20 sorties; he's still here at 86. That was a very moving and thoughtful piece.

mongoose said...

True heroism, as we have discussed before, is not standing up to the Zulus when squillions of them appear one breakfast trying to kill you. It's being scared witless and still getting on a paper aeroplane full of aviation fuel and bombs, and then doing it again, and again, as the attrition renders you a veteran the first fortnight.

The notion that war had some sort of chivalric, civilian-sparing, board-game acme is an interesting one, Mr PTB. In ancient times, the noble Greeks (the savage bastards!) on winning many a siege crucified the men and sold the women and children into slavery. Hideous as it is to ponder, I am sure that it is all just economics having taken to his warhorse.

PT Barnum said...

Ah, Mr Mongoose, but the Greeks were far less sentimental than modern humanity and therefore had no need to dress up their warring adventures as anything other than a grab for land and power. Perhaps that began with the Romans, Pro Patria Mori and all that snuff, who felt the necessity to lard their actions with nobility. I speak only of the general cultural trends, not individuals co-opted into the project.

And all kudos to Mr Richard's father and his 86 years. Does he speak of his war? Very few of that generation seem to. Their griefs are private, quiet things.

mongoose said...

Indeed, Mr PTB. My grandfather spoke barely a word about it until he was on his deathbed. Autres temps.

War used to be about gaining possession of the battlefield. did it not? The Anglo-Saxon chronicles go on about the battles and always end "And X had possession of the field". ie X won. As soon as we lost set piece battles, we started to drag the poor bloody civilians into it again. I imagine that wealth started to be tied to the means to realise it through the population and so we had another weapon and, alas, another target.

When the humble archers of Agincourt mowed down the gentlemen of France, the penny began to drop and war turned to cumulative firepower rather than one-on-one chivalric combat. The precision engagement of its time, the longbow leads through callous logic to Hiroshima. But the Agincourt archer, the Waterloo rifleman, still had to have the courage to stand as the cavalry charged; the yeoman airman had to have the courage to climb aboard his Wellington. Until the Germans ran out of defences and he could toddle over to fire-bomb Dresden of an evening. How close the 1941 hero was to becoming the same sort of guy clambering risk-free aboard the Enola Gay to rain vapourising death on women and children. Once was all courage and risk. Now we have cowboys in helicopters slaughtering pedestrians with Playstation abandon. We have trained ourselves almost backwards and become ignoble savages.