Sunday, 30 May 2010

THE SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT

 THE SUNDAY ESSAY

TOWARDS AN ERUDITE ARTISANRY

The late Mr MutleyTheDog, who passed away last week,  cruelly, sadly, fearfully young, whimsied that he was vexed by his blog always being upside down; I know what he meant; we, schooled with books, are accustomed to a narrative starting at the top and going downwards, in this new world of electronic, non-tactile tribalism our ongoing stories, our ledgers and logs  of complaint and celebration, are told and  written-up arse-backwards,in the visual sense they are contra-narrativeal; the past, the beginning of the monologue, or the dialogue, vanishes down the screen from sight and everyday, almost, is the  Day One, a daily In The Beginning Was......only regular readers au fait with the continuum. Visitors, scanning the odd post, would be entitled to presume that this was a place of redneck, queerbashing racism; that's how it is, when you do things backwards.


The natural world, now, the globe, is blanketed, enclosed,  by a gauze of communication, each extra million tweets or blogs thickening, not dispelling the fog between us, each ill-framed rant as important as the next, the odd gem overlooked in a bazaar of banality; a rush to publish today, consigning yesterday's crafted, polished thought swiftly to the cyber archive, ne'er to be seen again.


But there was an interesting exchange here the other day which continues today, on the post    LABOUR IN NEW LEADER SHOCK, in which mr jgm2, mr mongoose and ms agatha debate the purpose of education . We have educators among our cohort, their thoughts, in the New Gove Age of Education are sought. Quick, before you miss it.


I mentioned in another post that out of curiosity I have been looking at poor, old Jocky Neil's This Week mailbox and at his DP blog, where his last entry was a lamentation on the loss of the grammar schools - he went to an ordinary one, I to one of the best, so-called, he is extremely rich and I am not even a bit rich, only by comparison with the very poorest, in Ethiopia - and revealed the interesting statistic that forty per cent of the unwholesomes in the coalition went to independent schools and from this he deduced, poor, ancient, wrinkled lamb, that the age of meritocracy - he means himself -  was over; our leaders, he seemed to say, were better educated, now,  than us, missing, in his half-pissed, over-exposed way, the point that it isn't education which Eton and Oxford provide, far from it, but connections.


Consider, historically the majority of our prime ministers, cabinet ministers and senior civil servants have been Eton and Oxbridge alumni. We have lived, for centuries, under their expert whip hands, at war, hungry, overtaxed, unemployed, sick; abused, hectored, surveilled, registered; preached-at and stolen from, in a cycle of apparently uncheckable boom and bust, in which all suffer, save those who cause it. 

Apologias for this absurd state of affairs abound, just pop down the road to Col von Fawkes's PizzaHouseof Blood, the cyber equivalent of the Sun, and read about his share portfolio, how, just by being a damn clever pisshead, he can cream-off some tax-free surplus value from the labour of others. And ain't that great; too drunk, too vain to see that his extolling of Greed is actually, rather than being an anti-politics position, just a  boorish, right-wing rant, a daily servant to the status quo he claims to abhorr.

At the Filth-O-Graph, bloated Simon Heffer rages at the prospect of increased capital gains tax, as though in a demanding, ageing post-industrial, densely populated nation like ours, taxation was the work of Satan, public services extant only for the feckless and the workshy and lazy. The fucking imbecile,  Heffer, on behalf of the  Oxbridge crew, chides us that ours is the politics of envy, that we should approve of the rich paying little or no tax, even as we toil to make them richer than ever;  yet on the idle rich, even the famous socialist firebrand, and doubtless HefferHero, Winston Spencer Churchill, had this to say, a hundred years ago:


'Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains -- and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labor and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived.'

For landowner we may substitute any number of snooty situations, starting with banker or aristocrat or Red Braces bastard fuckpig. And we must, in HefferWorld, always blame and berate the public sector worker for daring to take up a job as a nurse or a teacher or a binman, rather than doing something worthwhile, like peddling bile and malice and gossip, the obnoxious piece of shit; how dare they, chant the Filth-O-Graphees, these people have no shame, do they, their wickedness scarce alleviated by the fact that though trousering their few quid, they are, actually, helping to enrich the idle, the land monopolist nouvelle;  the rich man at his castle, the poor man at his gate ?

On the broader historical stage,  finely-tuned Oxbridge minds led us to the Napoleonic Wars, the Veldt, the Somme, Dunkirk, Auschwitz; Malaya; Port Stanley, Andersonstown and the Bogside; Srebrenica, Fallujah and Helmand, properly clever people might have seen these things coming and intercepted or avoided them but no shame attaches to the Oxbridge authors - actual or proxy -  of slaughter and mayhem, for they are our betters, allus 'ave bin.

Twentieth century Oxbridge intellects set the accelerants for the ongoing Middle East conflagration, the betrayal of Lawrence's Arabia,  the Zionist expansion and terror,  the support of the Shah  which led to  the  headchopping Ayotollah bastards, the Suez disaster, the support of Uncle Sam's support for Sadam Hussein,  all jewels in the crown of  the Oxbridge establishment, everything they touch turns to revolutionary shit. Pakistan, Malaya, Ulster, thirty fucking years of murder and mayhem and torture, presided over by these same arseholes;  even Cyprus, fucking Cyprus. Spies, arsebandit espionage, Blunt, Philby, Burgess, Maclean, all Cambridge.  What on Earth is the point of Trident, when some Cantabrian at the Foreign Office will be, as we speak, disclosing it's codes and deployments in some furtive  Ivan, Chink or Arab  manlove tryst? Cambridge University - David Frost, Monty Python and BrownHat Treason.  Jesus, the nerve of some people. Never mind the Oxford English Dictionary, what about the Oxford Book Of Catstrophic Ineptitude, A Self-Portrait?


Consider, despite the poverty lessons of the industrial nineteenth and twentieth centuries, our standard of living remains shackled to an eighteenth century, unflinchingly capitalistic model, offering us only Earthcrime and Usury in equal, toxic measure, this is the best that Oxbridge, the Sorbonne, Heidelberg and the Ivy League can manage, Ruin, regular as clockwork.



Whilst saving every penny for retirement, we must go into debt to consume more and more trash,  that the idle rich may have more and more of the good stuff; this - Growth - is all she wrote, growth is all there is, it makes the world go round, growth and only growth, it can't be denied. And every twenty years or so so we Grow into Ruin. Clever stuff. Genius.


As science and technology make astounding, clever-monkey leaps, the dead hand of generations of public school/Oxbridge boys and girls steers us, ever, to the rocks; greed, privilege, the mutuality of pseudo-elitism, the inbred shit floating, self-delightedly, to the top, Johnson, Cameron, Goldsmith, bouyed-up by an education so superior that none could find the hole in their arses, count the change in their pockets, so superior that CallHimDave shits, effortlessly in our faces from his cycle, his limo creeping behind, carrying his work clothes, as he shamelessly fakes a set of eco-credentials; less well-educated people would retire in lifelong shame at the exposure of such crass duplicity; Eton, though, gives a fellow stomach for the fight against Decency, what; play up, play up and play the game, Aye, right. Bastards. And who can forget Johnson senior, saying that his son, Boris the cokehead philanderer, was entitled to be Mayor of London because of all the money he had lavished on his education, donchaknow?

This exercise in privilege - it's not elitism, in, say, mr the dyer's garden's terms,  these people aren't the  best, just the richest, no warrior poets, here -  is little if anything to do with education as I understand it, as mr mongoose and ms agatha understand it, this is to do with positioning one's children so that they are eligible for more, closer to more, conditioned to expect more;  Oxbridge, Eton, Harrow and the rest  don't simply educate, they perpetuate  the bullying of the many, by the few, encrusting our discourse, every generation, with cant, incompetence, narcissism and stupidity.  Shitholes filled with pious, over-indulged, useless, inbred, greedy fucking bastards. I'd demolish them; no, I would. 

This sounds a bit Chairman Mao, I know, a bit Red Guard Cultural Revolution, sounds Philistine. Ah, but what about all the ree-surch they do. Fuck the ree-surch, there's plenty of ree-surch,  there's Hubble and the Hadron Collider and there's lots of other joints doing ree-surch, how much fucking ree-surch do we need ? Why don't we ree-surch a way to give every kid in the world a drink of clean water? Too complex an issue for our gifted ones; war, now, or slump, that's the stuff. Throw the ree-surchers out in the street, let them ree-surch homelessness, and teenage alcoholism, do something useful.

Former prime minister Snot, bog-trotting, sermonising his way into the supposed sophistication of Information Technology  promised high-speed broadband for all. Fat chance, when they cannot run a railroad, or an airline, or an examination system, or a battle-equipped army, or a care system for the elderly, or a foreign policy, or a worthwhile justice system, just one swerving from one punitive mantra to another. The water pipes are leaking, the sewers are antiquated, the roads are potholed and inadequate, the hospitals are filthy deathcamps, centres of greedy, criminal incompetence, the teachers can't frame a grammatical sentence and the cops'll shoot you soon as look at you. And as the preposterous, shirtsleeved, Ivy League Obama poses and rhetorises, archly, embarrassingly  desperate to salvage his limping, spurious popularity, our blue chip companies spray filth all over the ocean, the shores and the bayou, their stooges insisting that it's no big deal. This is what happens when we mistake rehearsed cleverness for wisdom, First Class Degrees in Victor Bogdanov Studies for competence; we arrive in a world of David Mitchell and Steven Fry for joint prime ministers, reductio ad absurdum, as they would say. Universal, high-speed broadband, we'd need to be conquered by some efficient, well-educated Hermans for that to happen, our overstructure is far too stupid.


No use blaming Blair and Brown and NewLabour alone; the Thatcher regime of Red BracesGood, Overalls Bad, was one of the shittiest and shabbiest in modern history, larded with Oxbridge rubbish, as Peter I Have A LIttle Song Lilley and Malcolm Lower Your Voice To A Shout Rifkind now graphically remind us, braying and slithering again on govament benches. Unemployment a price worth paying; no such thing as society; rejoice, we are a grandmother, mad as a longtailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs; Oxford, that's Oxford for you, the impudence of the outrageously stupid.


Both our sets of vaguely partisan demagogues have been richly colonised from Oxbridge and independent schools and crucially their immoveable Mandarinate consists almost exclusively of useless, good for fuck all, never done a day's proper work wankers, oily bastards and useless, self-serving piece of shit, peerage-hungry arseholes, first-this and permanent-that, not fit to run a carbootsale; festooned with the glittering prizes, usually a first or even a double first in classics, or PPE, whatever they are, and thus issued with a lifetime, business class ticket to the GreatShittingOnThePublicLatrineOfState, or Westminster, as it is known to all and sundry and especially, currently, to the lovestruck Oxbridge midget, Mr Laws. Will his ticket-to-shit remain valid, will it be cancelled, or suspended, or will one of his fellow-Oxbridgees advise him that he best just mind his pees and cues? Alas,  we learn that the horrid little turd must leave his shitmission unaccomplished and spend more time with his partner who is not his partner; he has done no wrong, of course, just doesn't want to distract from the national ruinous purpose, to which all of his ilk are committed. Cameron and Clegg, his masters, beneficiaries of the most expensive education, within days of hijacking Power, revealed as clodhopping, maladroit nincompoops, as ignorant of personalities and human foibles as they are of policies; if I had paid for their education I would want my money back.

And another reason I'd want my money back is that this pair of clowns, as well as having nothing to say, save self-answering questions - they do not declaim, much less  orate, they interview themselves, as though they had some as yet undiagnosed form of Advanced  Absorbed Paxmanism, Am I saying this? well there's two questions there. Am I relaxed about that? Absolutely -   don't know how to say it.  Two of the purportedly best-educated layabouts in the land estranged from pronunciation and grammar, gonna-ing, wanna-ing, struggaling,  the govament are-ing, meeting-with-ing, the-reason-why-ing;  malapropism, solecism, split infinitives, double negatives, non-sequiteurs, tautologisms; cases, tenses, articles, all  completely misunderstood.  Money down the drain; this pair, so enthusiastic about raising educational standards, would not, judged by their spoken English, pass an eleven-plus examination. It wasn't about education, their schooling. Oh, they would have been coached to pass exams but the insipid, leaden, lacklustre laziness and coarse ignorance of their speech - surely an adroit politician's greatest tool, greatest pleasure - is proof of their  and their teachers' failure. If Clegg and Cameron are an advertisement for private education they prove, vividly and incontestably,  that their parents money bought not an education, merely a series of connections to the powerful, an entree to the demi-monde of high-level, mutual self-interest. Not that I give a flying fuck for any of them but David Davies woukd have romped home in the recent election; the effete waster,  Cameron,  casts about,  now, for reason to be cheerful part one, inventing a New Politics to justify his miserable failure in the Old. These are not the doings of an educated person, this is, shameful grubby opportunism, spivvery masquerading as statesmanship. Flashman, proper public school.


No, the correct approach to education is not to assume that a degree is essential for this is a mediaeval mindset, anybody can get a degree, all you need is for your parents to have money - look at Prince Charles, he's got one and he can't even dress himself - or the ability  to process and retain usually abstract information.  for artful regurgitation in a fixed time period.  The right approach  is to  teach, from infancy, alongside the Kings and Queens of England, the Zen of Work, teach them how to do things, make things, maintain things, make stuff that works; teach the stupid little fuckers about raw materials; teach them  that it was tools, hammers, planes and saws and, before them, shaped bits of flint, clubs and sharpened sticks, which amplified our meagre strengths and made us fearless, kept us warm and sheltered and fed, it was tools which brought us here, not a knowledge of politics, philosophy and economics, the most dismal and devious field of study, emblematic of the parasitism of leadership. Oh, Jocasta took a first, up at Oxford, in PPE, good for fuck all, she is; she'll have to be kept, by the rest of us. Teach them about the properties of and the extraction of and the preparation of raw materials; teach them to estimate and measure and sketch; teach them to plant and prune, to dig and harvest and store; teach them to dig foundations and pour concrete; show them how things work.

One of Blair's many gimmicky betrayals was the insistence that fifty per cent go to newly -invented unversities or as ms agathat has it;
"The expansion of university education with the goal to educate 50% of the young to degree level is, in my opinion, wrong headed. Trade skills have been academicised: we have a two tier degree system,of which employers and academics are fully aware: the older universities continue to offer degree studies in those subjects which have for some years been regarded as academic, whereas the promoted polytechnics offer degrees for the future passengers of the Golgafrinchan "B" Arc: telephone sanitisers, video makers, film appreciators, management consultants, hairdressers etc. Our society is actually in need of people with proper trade skills - or it is where I live - impossible to get a competent builder, plumber, window cleaner, gardener,etc unless you have a friend who gave up an academic career to do something useful instead. It is a sad thing to see all those earnest and joyless young people going into huge amounts of debt to fund a degree in something that society doesn't want and won't lead to a job - let alone the glittering prizes that they naively believe will be theirs. No, for that, you still either have to be born into the right family or fuck someone from the right family or study PPE,or all three. As Mr. Ish might say, a pox in all their houses. If people want to undertake education, let them live at home and study with the Open University, but not let it interfere with the day job, or get it mixed up with how you get to earn a minimum of £60 grand a year.
But that is  not enough for me. There is no reason that people do not study both plumbing and poetry, the vocational/academic divide merely shores-up the posture of those who, unable to work by hand and eye deride those who can,  for their inability  to translate Homer. As if, with shit and icy water and
toilet roll and used tampons pouring down your stairs,  you would rather hear about Odysseus than gratefully welcome a plumber. And there  is more to it than utility over diversion, the artisan must, often, devise, imagine a solution, and then, having imagined it, perform it, his is a blend of that rare intelligence (at the top of the blog) knowing what to do when you don't know what to do with a  physical ability to apply the remedy using the necessary tools, skillfully - providing he has the necessary tools for many eventualities and that they are in a fit-for-purpose condition, you can't cut and paste a new ballcock from the internet, you have to actually know what you are doing,  the why and the how and you have to be able to do it, contorted in a confined space; the plumberpath is not eased by some dodgy professor, almost a family retainer, overmarking the dreary drivel before him, flirting in tutorials.

It is onto the disciplined, practical  knowledge of trade and craft which esoteria should be grafted or, better, both should be learned in tandem; not a barrier to Hamlet or Rembrandt or The Epic of fucking Gilgamesh,  the overalls and the Swarfega are the mortarboard and gown of reality.

Mr ptb told a harrowing  and depressingly familiar story of student-to-teacher brutality in academe and such  behaviours grow common, from primary school onwards,  we have rehearsed it at, here, at length; horrid little shits, ill-parented, often Thatcher's grandchildren, still paying the price worth paying, made feral, that's the word, in order for her privately educated  fuckpig son, Viscount Mark, to ponce money from his Ma's connections and stooge around the world cack-handedly staging insurrections; betraying his old, public school friends when the deal goes down, the useless fucking bastard. Best not whisper it around Harrow School  but Thatcher is actually more of a disappointment, a poorer return on investment than mr ptb's thug-assailant.

But these kids are  straightjacketed into study they consider irrelevant and which is largely irrelevant to them, unreal,  there is no physical connection, no end product,  their grandfathers built trains and boats and planes, they might, if they are lucky, flip hamburgers, alongside an English graduate.  Even among the orderly, learning has been revolutionised by the Internet, people no longer learn by understanding and remembering,  they simply know how and from where to acquire information,  how and from where, actually, to acquire friends, in bizarre numbers, this is a techno-knack not as useful as it first appears; our very brain circuitry is adapting to the New Learning  but there is no real interaction, how can there be? The process of manufacture, though, is engaging of mind, hand and eye, even a  completed birdbox delights its young creator as though it were a  sparkling suspension bridge across Time, which is what it is.

In the same commentary, mr mongoose rightly delights in the fact that he, like Kinnock, is the first in a thousand generations to go to university, acknowledging that a university place, any university place, confers advantage and status. Relax, said Professor Whitehead - I remember - to his new intake of undergrads, you are here as a reward for your wit and industry, relax and enjoy yourselves. And let the unrewarded lay the bricks and dig the drains, his unspoken corrolary.  I wish, I wish, I wish in vain that I could lay bricks. And I know that, if he can't, mr mongoose, also,  would so wish.

Rather than properly examining the structural failure of education, Mr Michael Spit-Gove and his acolytes  now want to refine the existing, redundant educational landscape, to involve stupid parents in securing a competitive advantage for their stupid children, not enough that educational examination certificates are not worth the paper they are printed on,  there is now to be managerial and curricular involvement from pushy, greedy, aspirational fuckwits  - or concerned parents -  the same to be rigourously applied   by professionals who don't know that hopefully is an adverb, and don't care. More of the same, only worse.  Schools, which by disadvantaged intake are wickedly deemed to be failing, will suffer further neglect and dereliction under coalition plans to empower - get the votes of - the so-called middle class, instead of wading-in and assisting struggling schools, to the benefit of all, the New Briton, made stupid and selfish by examplars in  Royalty, politics, showbiz and skymadeupnewsandfilth, now demands that he be allowed to set up  his own school.  Not a word from the slimy mouth of Spit-Gove about real reform - redressing the stinking system whereby the kids of the rich get all the best jobs, just for the asking.

And it will be more of the same but worse. In these new plans there is no suggestion of novelty or innovation, just another sausage-machining towards five good shit GCSEs,  three good shit A levels and a meaningless shit degree, and a soul-destroying  career, in some shit  branch of GlobaCorp.

Education, like justice, transport, health, policing  and defence is properly the business of the state and not of the wannabe  enclave,  it is certainly not a vehicle for generating profits for dodgy private companies, under the ludicrous mission statement of Choice. People who don't want to live in a state should fuck off and live somewhere else,  the state is the only mechanism by which this many people can live together in close proximity and relative safety. But education  needs to move along.  I am not widely travelled but I hear that in other parts tradesmen and women are considered worthwhile citizens, not necessary-evil untermenschen.

A dismantling of the differential between so-called academic and so-called vocational studies - and pupils - is the only way to properly engage, properly educate our children; an equalising of opportunity - the abolition of rich kids' schools and the redistribution of their staffs, buildings and resources - may result in an improvement in teaching standards;  a practical, integrated, holistic curriculum  both practical and academic, mutually interpenetrating, cannot but increase our numbers of engineers, scientists, mechanics and other skilled tradesmen, cannot but enhance the skills of the lawyer and the doctor and the administrator, broaden the palette of the artist, the range and invention of the composer; we must develop generations of curious, confident, well-read,cultured inventive people, as happy in the art gallery as the workshop, adept in both. We don't need saparating, rich from poor, academic from vocational; we need, in schools, and lifelong,  a new, unified Arts and Crafts and Trades and Sciences movements, an integrated baccalaureat of thought and skill, and we need it to be open to all.

Oxbridge produces mor villainy than virtue, examine the behaviour od the repulsive Laws, even though he was doing wrong, he insists, he was doing it for personal reasons, so it was, actually, not wrong at all, but right, this amoral self-serving claptrap chorused up and down cyber fleetstreet, a huge personal tragedy, such an able intelligent, lying, thieving, cowardly Oxbridge wanker.  The product of a great education.

And as for Heffer and Co, spiteful, selfish, tiny-minded, petulant unimaginative gabshites, well, let them look around, sobeerly and critically,   at the fruits of Oxbridge, of King Edwards Foundation Grammar Schools, of Harrow and Eton and Westminster,  let them behold their works, and despair.

18 comments:

Archimedes said...

Well Mr Ishmael, you have assembled a wealth of good sound logic and information there.
I hear echos of accord, and maybe realitymoney.
It certainly needs shouting from the rooftops around the country, but most of all it needs action.
The question is how to create the necessary impetus for that action and how to fund it.

Squitch said...

A tour-de-force, Mr Ishmael: thank you for that. I am sure that you have heard the old saying: 'If it aint broke, don't fix it'. To that might be added: 'If it is too broke, don't fix it.' Sometimes even practical people make such a mess of things that the only recourse is to scrap the whole project and start again. It seems to me that the entire structure of human relations in this country is in an unfixable state. By what means could we begin to dismantle the differential between so-called academic and so-called vocational studies? There appears to be a wall of apathy on one side and a mountain of resistance on the other.

As for Laws, I can muster little sympathy for him. He 'explained' that it was within the rules for him to pay his partner 'rent' for the accommodation they shared because he did not live with him 'as a spouse'. Had he been claiming Income Support, without declaring his partner, under the same living arrangements, he would now be facing a likely spell in chokey.

Anonymous said...

You also export twats as in Abhisit Vejjajiva prime minister of Thailand, born in Newcastle educated at Eaton and Oxford and now living in an army base as he is scared of what might happen to him after the massacre in Bangkok. Still he is in good company just doing what he is told. As for apprentices, lack of skilled men you can lay the blame at Thatchers doorstep. At least there were openings for young men to learn a skill when she got rid of manufacturing there were no factories left to learn one in. A friend of mine went to Rhodesia in the 60's applied for a job with Rhodesia railways they asked him where he served his time? Craven brothers he replied start tomorrow they said. Plus there is no kudos in having a skill once toolmakers and machine tool fitters were the creme de la creme now on a par if you can find one with supermarket shelf refillers and on about the same money. Go into the city Maggie said, fuck making things get some red braces shuffle money around add 10% and move it on. I fully agree with you about these waste of space degrees in Meeja studies at this rate there will be more people on the telly than watching it. The South Koreans and Singaporians are no more intelligent than people in the UK but they are building all the oilrigs and ships, Singapore if you don't mind. They have the latest technology machine and working practises when I worked in the yards on Tyne and Clyde they hadn't changed much since they were building them out of wood. As you say a very sad state of affairs and more or less ireversable.

a young anglo-irish catholic said...

At least there were openings for young men to learn a skill when she got rid of manufacturing there were no factories left to learn one in.

Bugger off, Mr Anonymous.

Manufacturing was bust by 1977. Everything had been Nationalised by then, ship building and aerospace the last to go - Labour MPs breaking out into the 'Red Flag' after winning the move by a single vote.

The industries were bust, finished, propped up tax payer's money which might have been spent on skoolsandhospikals.

Even Maggie was terrified of the vast, sprawling monster that was British Leyland, 500,000 and more paid by the Blue Plughole. She even stumped up a Billion pound bung in the early 1980s, mid-recession, on the say so of BL boss Edwardes.

Blame, as I do, the 1945 Labour government spending what money we had on nationalisation (supported by then than 30 percent of the voters) , when bombed-out Europe rebuilt its factories and rebuilt its railways, dumping steam power.

Blame the left-over communism of the 1930s depression for dragging its heals into the 1970s, elected Labour MPs still believing that a worker's paradise lay over the Berlin wall.

Blame the rapid decline in engineering standards after what we had achieved in the war. Why? Blame petty, jobsworth, suburban, myopic 'managers' who hadn't an o-level in metal work between them.

But, whatever she did, Maggie did not close down thriving, innovation, profitable industry. She just stopped paying to prop it up. Billions upon Billions had been sunk into it to no real end.

Fuck me, the money spent on the Mini Metro - hundreds of millions even then - for no more than a hatchback body and polished-up 20 year old engine on Mini running gear.

Oh yes, Renault, VW, Honda even then kicking the UK car industry up the arse, buyers taking revenge for 10 years of not being able to get their Maxi into first gear of a morning.

The British motorcycle industry? Fucked backwards by pre-war engineering and 'we know best' Brummie attitude, surely the most awkward and truculent people on the planet.

I once fell into a drunken conversation in a US hotel bar with member of the BMW board (A Dr of engineering like a German car company bosses). That day we had driven a new BMW 4x4 which simply laughed in the face of Land Rover -a company also owned by BMW at the time.

'Why' he asked me. 'do the British not want to be the best in world. We are from Bavaria, not bigger than Scotland and we want to be the best. You don't care.'

A few months later, BMW dumped Rover, having seen a loss of £750m in one year.

Oh yes, Mr Anon. Yow dunno just 'ow good British engineering is. Best in the world, just bostin'. If it hadn't been for Maggie, Longbridge would still be the world's most productive car factory..'

BTW Mr Ish, how very, very true about Oxbridge. Utterly fucking useless for anything but making a case for something. A country run by essayists and regurgitators. Fuck me, is it any wonder this countries infrastructure is fucked?

a young Anglo-Irish catholic said...

But I did try to help....

Boris Cokenose called, back in winter 2007 for a New Routemaster bus. Fit for purpose, innovative, clean-running.

The nay-saying from Livingstone's mob was deafening. We must have the Bendy buses, like the workers travelling the revolutionary boulevards of South America.

So I commissioned one of the world's leading bus designers to come up with a detailed plan. Took them round to Boris's campaign office. Told him it could be done.

He won, kicked off a competition and now the design is real, being made in the UK, aluminium and electric power. New, innovative, fit for purpose, fit for export, private enterprise in Northern Ireland.

And the noise from the Left, the resistance from inside TFL...fuck me, you'd thing Boris was shooting for the moon. This idiots are so clueless about manufacturing they had a fit at the bill.

£7.5m for five prototypes of an all-new bus design. The Guardian blogs fused at the sum. Yet it costs £750m to engineer a whole new car. £1m to do a single car headlamp.

Still, two days later, they rejoiced for TFL was going to spend £166m on 'promoting' cycling in the capital. Fuck me. Blue stripes in the road and some posters.

10 times the cost of a new bus, with export potential and real jobs attached to it to 'promote cycling.'

I am a man of the right, Mr I, 'cos I have seen that the Left is even worse. McBust showed us that, surely. Bank bailouts we could have forgiven (aside from RBS and NR, which were under legislative watch) but the overdraft is unforgivable.

Still £166m for posters here and there and you soon talking real money...

Anonymous said...

a young Anglo-Irish catholic said" A load of bollocks now fuck off back to Ireland

Mothers Ruin said...

Young men of non academic abilities entering apprenticeships learnt not just a trade, but how to behave amongst adults. Being taught by experienced skilled hands, rather than on paper theory, imbeds respect for tools and materials and forges a generational bond that is missing in many young mens lives.

Anonymous said...

young anglo-irish catholic as you seem to be hard of reading I will type this slowly OK? I have no idea what you do to pay the rent nor do I wish to know but I bet you don't get your hands dirty or have to worry about wheather or not you will have a job next month. To be honest I am getting a bit sick of people like you smug gits who want to see the end of trade unionism and the minimum wage and all the rest of it. What advice would you give the poor sod who has worked in a factory for say 40 years and it is closing and production going overseas? Perhaps he could donate some of his wages back to the company hoping they will spend it on new equipment but don't hold your breathe. I have worked in factories that have been closed down seen grown men crying as they know full well that they will never work again while we were dismantling machinery and sending it abroad Courtaulds comes to mind Sultzer looms 100 grand a piece installed 5 years before with government money ( your hero Maggie) then as soon as the term was up close the factory and flog off all the gear. The west and the UK in particular had a monopoly on technology for years became complacent and look at it now just glad I don't live there anymore perhaps you put a word in with your gaffer see if you can place a few of the unemployed.

call me ishmael said...

There was no intended distinction between Left and Right in the essay but an attempted re-evaluation of forms of study and work, for all and not just for those we consider non-academic. It was an attempt to urge a rethinking of, for want of a better phrase, job-satisfaction and I posited that a mastery or at least a familiarity with craft and trade skills was potentially beneficial to the nation, certainly beneficial to the individual and would represent a re-seizing of the whole apparatus of design and production from GlobaCorp whose banditry and domination have resulted in massive alienation,bewilderment and a sense of powerlessness over our built and natural environments and a complete lack of mastery of the processes through which we interact with them; in factories or at home or in the garden, we need to make things, not just consume things, people, therefore, need to be taught how to make things; we need, too, as mother's ruin insists, to find mens to productively channel the energies of young men, that they acquire mastery of their minds and bodies through example, through teaching and through productive work.

My overarching point was that the political and cultural dominance of a generally over-privileged elite had brought nothing for the majority but Ruin.

The outstanding achievements of the Labour movement in the twentieth century should not be thrown out with the bathwater of worthless filth such as newly-Lorded John Monks, Blairite scoundrel and usurper of the TUC or His Grace, the Lord Prescott, just two among many who trampled on the face of labour in their haste to the trough.

There is a danger, an optical illusion occurs, mr yaic, resulting in people confusing Ken Livingstone with working people; he and his coterie and his wider, professional political party are as much opportunistic parasites as are the braying Mr Red Braces on the Tory benches.

The politial caste, FarRight, Right, Centre Right, Left, Centre Left or Far Left exists only to perpetuate itself, loyalty to one wing or the other is futile and non-reciprocal, their greates loyalty is to themselves, not to us and as long as we live in accord with the fatuous notion of some people being academic and born to rule, others being vocational and stupid, we, all of us here, will continue to squabble among ourselves, heedless of the shit falling on our heads.


The questions you pose, mr archimedes are not for me to answer. I am not a movement. Col von Fawkes and mr old holborn, the tobacconist, sometimes organise events but living at the far end of the Realm, all I can do is provide a commentary, others must seek ammunition with which to enfilade the UnGodly.

"By what means could we begin to dismantle the differential between so-called academic and so-called vocational studies? There appears to be a wall of apathy on one side and a mountain of resistance on the other." asks Mr squitch.

Well, I guess on the individual level we can only take things, literally into our own hands, and do stuff, study, buy the tools and do as much stuff as we can and maybe teach our children, our neighbours, I know some people who do that, unremarkably, no big deal, just, Ah, I'll show you how to do that...

I used to advise the young women of my tribe, whilst teaching them how to change plugs, tyres, fanbelts, if there are two men and one has a Swiss Army Knife, marry the one with the knife, the bigger the better, for he will be able to do shit. They didn't but they can hang their own shelves, wire their own cookers.

a young Anglo-Irish catholic said...

Mr Anonymous

The point of this is simple.

Maggie did not walk into No10 and close down world-leading, or even moderately decent industry. It was, too a great extent, bust before May 1979.

I grew up in a small town utterly dominated by a giant nationalised state company. It was a standing joke even for people who worked there. That's why this most working class of towns voted Maggie in 1979.

Incidentally my father worked on the roads for 40 years and my mother filled in as a cleaner and shop assistant.

There are plenty of people to blame, but I'll do my best to halt the 'Maggie closed down the industry and went for financial services' line trotted out by the habitual left.

'Tory cuts' has already become a mantra, never mind that public spending rose in real terms every year from 79-91 and that the only government to cut NHS spending in real terms was Callaghan's.

There may of been a lot of things wrong with Maggie, but she was outrun by Militant, the worst of the Unions, the hard Left and the sentimental middle class liberals in the real long term damage done to the UK.

What a pity, for example, that the teachers and pre-Maggie governments could or wouldn't make Technical schools work, as they do elsewhere.

The dribbling liberals obsessed by 'equality' wanted everybody in the same school building, but could never quite work out how to teach proper metal work alongside English literature.

The death of engineering in the UK raises the same question as global warming; what came first, the rise in temperatures or the rise in Co2?

What killed the industry? Was it universal uncompetitiveness or the lack of properly trained engineers?

Or perhaps it was the Hampstead Liberials' and Oxbridge essayist's dislike of heavy industry.

Certainly, growing up as a child the more ambitious working class parents wanted to see their children in a nice white collar job, not spending 40 years in the local foundry.

Can't blame them after 30 years of end-to-end strikes...

a young Anglo-Irish catholic said...

I missed your post as I was mid-rant, Mr I.

Cannot but agree. I was a hands-on child, trained to be hands on, worked hands on for a while before my company was swept away by the worse-than-it-needed to be 1992 recession.

But I didn't blame Maggie. She was right to stay out the ERM. I blame Clarke and Heseltine and Major and Lawson (and the opposition benches - including Brown) united in their certainty that the ERM was the way of the future. Interest rates set for reasons other than the needs of the country.

How did they get away it? A deep recession that smashed the place up for the European dream.

Why do those ERM lovers not get kicked out of town by the press, forever ostracised for such a willfully stupid policy? Clarke and Heseltine should be up against the wall, explaining themselves.

mongoose said...

I can lay a brick, Mr Ishmael, though it is painful to watch and I am glacially slow. My father taught us all, all of these things. We started at the arse end - "Make some more muck, lad". Which means "would you kindly mix some more mortar, please, son". He often edited this down to just "Muck!" There is a correct way to mix muck - on a sheet ply so that you do not make a mess. Similarly concrete. And how to cut a stick of wood with a handsaw, how to use a chisel, how to - God save us - use a shovel and how to sweep things between shovellings so that the one with the shovel can do his bit efficiently. That there is a right way but many wrong ways of doing these simple things is now beyond most people. A generation ago almost everyone - certainly most men - had these skills.

So when the dishwasher broke, I fixed it. And the tumble dryer. And the Dyson. And when the kitchen needed remodelling and rebuilding, I did it.

My father had only sons but I am sure that he would have taught daughters these things, as you have done. And, indeed, my mother taught me how to use a sewing machine and how to bake an apple pie. In truth, her baking was the only stuff that ever emerged from the kitchen in a form which was in any way edible but she taught what she knew. They both did.

My boy has a small toolbox and more tools, and the skills to use them, will be added as time passes. He can already cook. The girls too will have their chances to learn as they get a bit bigger. Why everyone does not do these things for their kids is beyond me. If nothing else, it will save them a bleeding fortune. The more important thing is that these physical skills lend an understanding of how stuff works, the value of stuff, the pride in something done well, even if it is only sweeping up woodshavings without getting in the way of the proper work. An equivalent test to that of the Swiss army knife possession, Mr Ishmael, hire the one who isn't getting in the way of the job. And if he can mix muck neatly, he is likely to have a great many other useful skills too.

mongoose said...

As for Maggie, I emerged from college in 1982 wanting to be a manufacturing engineer. The Great She-Devil was about here work and nobody was hiring young engineers, so we changed tack. Indeed, I spent a year selling and fitting gas cookers. (See previous comment above. College didn't equip me to do that; the old man did.)

Much of what has been said above is true. The post-war ruination of the UK manufacturing industry should have us all hang our heads in shame that we let it happen and some of us even helped. The unions certainly did a great deal of damage by way of ruinous, politically-motivated cunts like Red Robbo. Dig the bastard up and hang him!

However, they were very well aided and abetted by disastrously piss-poor industrial management. I spent 15 years wandering around industry pontificating pompously, getting very nicely paid, thank-you, and only ever had to utter the most simplistic of remedies. That these thoughts hadn't occurred to them speaks volumes. So that's that.

Maggie did bayonet a lot of the wounded and sold off a lot of industries that should never have been publicly controlled in the first place. She didn't however put anything back - to take its place, to create jobs. She didn't see it as part of her job. This is her sin - not the destruction of Scargill and his loonies. She just didn't care that these armies of forty- and fifty-year-olds would never work again. And vast swathes of them never did.

call me ishmael said...

It's not those who foregather here, mr mongoose, that I rebuke; nor is it an example of McLuhan's rear-view mirroring - a fear of the Now making one cast eyes backward. I would guess that most who comment here are people who do stuff, who risk failure and sometimes dangers. And it was not an attempt to glorify the compensatory dignity of physical work for those who are slow-readers. On the contrary, it is the so-called academically gifted who are most penalised by their abstractions, their multiplicity of excuses,explanations, interpretations; the equivocality of their failures, theirs is a wilderness of argumentative mirrors; if, on the other hand, the roof which you have fixed still leaks, you have failed to fix it, you have done something wrong. Fortunately, though, you can have another go, and keep on until you get it right, and then, the next time you will know how to do it, providing it's the same sort of roof. And the same sort of leak.

This, you see, this is the true, endless, lifelong learning. Fixing a hole, where the rain gets in, to stop my mind from wand'rin....

I have problems with the ride-on mower; it goes to the shop, well, too often, there is a design flaw on it. it is a Briggs and Stratton engine mounted on some red plastic abortion of probably Mongolian or Kazakstanian manufacture and it keeps getting grass in the fuel and conking-out. Access to the tank and the carburettor is not easy and so I've been happy to send it to the specialists. But I realised that over the lifetime of the machine this is going to cost me more than the machine itself. So I need to not only fix it so's it goes, but I need to modify it so it keeps on going. I need to somehow surround the entire fuel system with grass-killing filters and make absolutely certain that when filling with petrol, maybe three times in a session, that not one blade of grass can get into the tank. You would have thought that the designers of a motormower would have though of this and located the filler cap somewhere distant from the cutting deck, maybe outside the body somewhere but, you know, Mongolians whaddatheyknow? The next time that I buy a ride-on mower, the location and design of the fuel system is something I will look at. Only there won't be a next time. This one will see me out. Especially if I modify the manufacturer's design for the better.

Now, if I had enjoyed a technical component in my grammar school education, instead of labouring under the school's lunatic assumption that I would be a diplomat or a doctor or a poet, then I never would have bought this fucking thing in the first place OR I would have fixed it myself, the very first time it went wrong OR I might have, working at trade, earned enough money to pay some other bastard to mow the lawn, with his own fucking machine.

Nevertheless, even though I never even owned a ride-on mower before this one - never mind dismantled and modified one - I have taught myself to do other things and I know, in fact, I believe that I will remedy this fucking thing; how hard can it be ? It is this previous confidence in our clevermonkeyness which is so absent, schooled out of us, designed out of us, discouraged, the only way we will retrieve it is via the schools giving it due importance. A GCSE in doing stuff, fixing stuff, figuring stuff out.

Too late for the communities laid waste, of course.

mongoose said...

Nice engines, Mr Ishmael, but often, as you have experienced, piss-poor mowers. I bought one similar, smaller, for use at me old mum's place. B&S motor beautiful; Honda-branded mower shite.

I had a flat tyre the other week. Lousy alloy wheels have corroded and the seal around the rims is not good. I, an engineer of some decades standing now, could not get the wheel off. Special key on one of the studs; stud key material too soft; supposed to be finger tight but cretins at tyre shops over-tighten and road muck tightens even further; the more force required, the squarer one should apply it... idiotic wrench; angled, flexible, too short. And so failure of plan. Who nicks alloy wheels these days anyhow? It took the AA man 40 minutes to get the blasted thing off - with all the kit he had. Let us stop and think. What is going to happen? This design just isn't going to work at the side of the road with hungry kids in the back and rain falling out of the sky that would have Noah back in business. It's the same idiocy as grass getting into mower fuel tanks but when the engineers at Toyota have turned into twats, we are surely all lost.

And, yes, we now have, four out of five studs per wheel and the four lockable ones are in the trash. Idiocy has been designed out.

TDG said...

You may not have been to either and I may have been to both, but were it not for Oxford and Cambridge neither of us would sound the way we do.

call me ishmael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
call me ishmael said...

Ah, always welcome mr tdg; to my knowledge there are only yourself and mr elby, hereabouts, who can speak from experience on Oxbridge, but I may be, as I often am, wrong.

Does your observation, which I hesitantly accept, justify the - in my view detrimental and unwarranted - influence on the nation of successive generations of those senior politicians and so-called civil servants who have had the same sort of education as yourself? Are poverty, poor health, unemployment, avoidable war, waste and incompetence in procurement and supply, nepotism and corruption in public administration and encouraged vulgarity, license and bullying among the unlettered - and so on - a price which the many should pay that the few may continue to disorder the national affairs, generation unto generation; because they speak nicely and their colleges have compiled dictionaries of this and that, concordances of propriety and seniority in language and literature, must we ever be restrained, by their soft, idle hands, tutored by their narrow, inbred, first class minds?

We are not tyrannised thus by the descendants of Gutenberg and Caxton, who, tradesmen, have been far more influential in the way we both speak, or write, and in the amount of knowledge available to us. Moveable type has been far more important an educative force than have any number of ancient colleges - or their graduates; we do not suggest that descendants of printers, bookbinders or members of the WH Smith family should run the government, the arts or the media.

Far more infleuntial than Oxbridge, more germane to the form and style of our discourses and the management of our lives is the King James Bible, most of which, I guess, you would dismiss as superstitious hokum, as do I the idea -although you do not actually posit it - that we are somehow indebted to Oxford, Cambridge, Durham or any of them.

Do we think that should they fall there will be no more cakes and ale?