Sunday 28 June 2020

The Sunday Ishmael 28th June in the Year of Ruin 2020

At it like Rats in a Sack again.
Cummings applauds as Boris says farewell and the door is held open
Sir Mark Sedwill, the UK’s most senior civil servant, will announce his departure this week under Cumming's plans - woops, typo -  Boris Johnson’s plans for a Whitehall revolution. Sir Mark was appointed National Security Adviser by Theresa May in 2017, a year later was made Cabinet Secretary  and allowed to do both jobs. The Cabinet Secretary post is now a lost cause and the National Security post is under a Damocletian sword. Cummings told a meeting of political aides last week that “a hard rain is going to fall” after setting out Whitehall’s failures during the response to the coronavirus. The hard rain will see a scaling back of the Cabinet Office. A friend of Sir Mark said: “He has been viciously briefed against. The whole Gove-Cummings axis has been sowing discord between the Prime Minister and Mark Sedwill.” So that's why Cummings retained his post after doing nothing wrong under Lock Down. Good to know.

And Sir Keir is busy taking politics out of the equation, as he steers his party to the right
by removing Corbyn's slightly-left former Deputy and his own former rival for the leadership, Rebecca Long-Bailey, over some usefully-timed nonsense or other.
which made Corbyn cross.

Roll up, Roll up, get your Political Analysis here:
  1. They fight like rats in a sack
  2. There is no left and no right any more 
  3. Which means there is no Opposition
  4. The independant and politically impartial Civil Service is now controlled by the big rats in political office
  5. Boris is a big girl's blouse and Cummings runs the country.
In a spirit of Ecumenicism this week's prize for Comedy Ecclesiatical Hat:

Analytical and prescient, mr ishmail's musings  in 1987 may provide a guide to life post Lock-Down as, yet again, the poor will be thrown out of work by the tanking of the economy, and again, as ever, those benefitting from the miseries of others float on the surface of the Great Latrine of State. 

The Sturdy Beggar and the Impotent Poor

Ishmael Smith 1987

The first of the Poor Laws, passed in 1536, provided relief for “the impotent poor” but compelled “the sturdy beggar” to work….New attitudes to poverty in the 20th Century resulted in the introduction of national insurance schemes which provided a comprehensive social security system that replaced the Poor Laws.  

Long ago, there was full employment and we’d never had it so good. Technology was relatively infantile and even the unskilled members of society could earn a crust on the hod, on the shop floor or behind the bar. Then as now, there were worthy folk, lacking in Social Work qualifications who wanted to help those who had fallen from grace. The authoritarian became J.P.s, the milder souls became prison visitors; some even managed to do both. All over the land there were small, ineffective but harmless and meaningless Discharged Prisoners Aid Societies. Manned – or peopled - by second-generation Guardian readers, clergy persons and the occasional Judge, they doled out alms and clothing to the ex-con. Sometimes they were able to secure gainful employment for the defrocked vicar, the accountant caught cooking the books or the teacher with his hand up a pupil’s skirt or trousers. In those days the phrases blue and white collar worker were, like nancyboy and nigger and yid; legal linguistic tender. The blue collar criminal could always find work; the motor industry was booming as were construction and engineering. The resourceful ex-con could always buy a set of National Insurance cards in a pub for a fiver and then get a job without disclosing his past; or work cash-in-hand while signing-on. The disgraced professional, however, faced a different set of problems before he could put his past behind him. Burglary was one thing, child molestation or professional misconduct were quite another; the disgraced professional provided a valuable client group for the middle-aged, middle-class Lord or Lady Bountiful to work with.

Times have changed. The Arabs decided they’d had enough crumbs from the rich man’s table and grabbed the cake, the loaf and nearly all the biscuits. This event, like any other disruption of global capitalism, meant that the poor had to be squeezed a bit more; they had to feel guilty about their low comparative productivity. Nobody, of course, said anything about offshore investment or antiquated plant. It was all due to overmanning, restrictive practices and Marxist union barons. When the poor would not respond to the demands of the rich, inflation was invented. The Tory press rallied round the pound in our pocket and a minority of the electorate returned a government determined to see that the things which divided society remained greater than those which united it. The only way for the rich to maintain their differential was to throw a few million onto the dole. Suffering became the handmaiden of efficiency, and, as we see daily, graft and corruption the bedfellows of investment.
So-called high technology completes the tide of change. Robots don’t go on strike. Since the discovery of fire and the wheel technology has been hijacked by the powerful. The silicon chip – produced for pennies, from sand – has certainly liberated people from the tedium of the factory and the danger of the pit. But whilst the Fat Cat Hooray Henry, almost as a birthright, “earns” a fortune on the Stock Exchange, the recently-liberated on the dilapidated Council Estates balefully view the Pandora’s Box of consumer goodies and the “lifestyles” enjoyed by the majority. The future is here, but only for some.
Among the dispossessed some, righteously indignant, oppressed by a racist, brutal and trigger-happy police force, and others aping the greed of their betters, took to the streets. 
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, DStJ, PC, FRS, HonFRSC , Prime Minister 1979 to 1990
What was a poor girl to do? How was one to create the New Jerusalem with all these uppity blacks and all these unemployed criminals kicking up a stink? How could one hold up one’s platinum head in the world’s councils with unprecedented civil violence erupting every summer? You know, when one was abroad, as one often was, representing Britain, one found it extremely tiresome having to explain about the wreckers within. Was one presiding over a revolution?
As Prime Minister Thatcher and her Cabinet became alarmed about unemployment they dreamed up the Special Employment Measures Action Group, which funded a raft of programmes to prepare the young and the unemployed for jobs which didn’t exist. The pain of unemployment, which is as much to do with boredom, purposelessness, apathy and the erosion of self-respect and identity as it is to do with a poverty-line income led the once-proud worker and provider if not into debt, alcoholism and marital breakdown, then despairingly into the Micky Mouse world of Special Employment Measures, a shoal of red herrings, the cosmetic caring face of a savagely repressive, compassionless and short-sighted society, providing sinecures for yesterday’s yes men, failed captains of industry earning a nice little supplement to their pensions, the difference between four holidays a year and two and an opportunity to spend one’s declining years in good works.

Although the work is no longer there the long-enforced values linger. Nobody in power seems able or willing to address the simple fact that there will never be a return to full employment. There is simply no need for it. Instead of resculpting our values and redistributing our resources we sentence millions of our fellows to poverty and despair. In a recent televised “debate”, The Ancient Scarman, the Establishment’s one size fits all, batteries not included, multi-purpose placebo, assures us, quoting in one breath, Jefferson, les sans culottes, and the worthless European Convention on Human Rights, that everything’s ok really. Just a period of transition. We really are a caring society, the evidence is everywhere, says his Lordship from his Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera TV studio. 

Leslie George Scarman, Baron Scarman, OBE, PC (29/7/1911 to 8/12/2004) Barrister, Judge and Law Lord.

The Stanislav Spot:

Stanislav, commenting on a post in which Guido Fawkes appears to have mispelled faint as feint:

A good recovery Lord Guido, but it was only a typo and you should have owned-up. We would all still respect you in the morning. Anyway that first bloke was a cunt for drawing attention to it. Stanislav know straight-up what Lord Guido mean. And is fucking Pole. Mean damning with faint praise. Only maybe finger is shake from cocaine and hit mistaken key. Maybe head fucked up with red wine and mix words, easy done. Happen all time. Worms come out all wrong. No need for big elaborate cut-and-stick rebuttal from dictionary to show CAN be damning with feint praise. Is like vanity number plate. If squint can read "I AM CUNT." But is not really correct spelling of I AM CUNT is probably LAM 644T and all twist up with screws and shit. Police should arrest, give good hiding and confiscate car; what else we pay them for ? Tell driver Yes, You IS Cunt and throw down nearest mineshaft.

Is one thing Mrs Alana Johnston make excuse himself for holocaustal slaughter of patients in shithole hospital run by greedy imbecile career fuckwits (like whole fucking country). Another altogether for Lord Guido twist and squirm like fucking politician and make cover-up, think nobody notice. Well Stanislav notice but not mention until now. Many people think Stanislav stupid fucking Pole, eat beetroot, drink vodka and cry about war, think Stanislav know fuck nothing. But is wrong, Stanislav know fuck all.

Anyway better watch out or get Lord Cover-Up Stevens of Northern Ireland and the Met uncover real facts of FeintGate. On second thoughts, no point; right Worshipful brother Stevens not recognise fact if bite on fucking nose. Stevens and fact is not acquainted. Not even feintly.

Stanislav in conversation with mr anonymous: 

Stanislav said:   (15:06  16/10/2007)  Dear Friend Mr Hitch. Once Mr Hitch and Mr Mad As Fish and Mr 45 was Stanislav valued friends in new country and Stanislav fix toilets for nothing but Stanislav now too fucking busy and important for plumb. Make preparation for sisters come work as nanny/concubine in grand house of Lord Guido. Is modern European. Is adult about work in sex industry. Guido is great man, no? Make future rosy for Stanislav sisters. Instead of drive oxen in overalls, like Scotch woman, and dig beetroot back home in fields of Cracow, sisters dress in thigh boots, scrub floors for minimum wage and sleep in cellar of Guido house. Make sex for Guido when Mrs Guido go out make film with big Jamaican boyfriends. Guido give valuable on-job training and employ sisters as escort in party conference only not LibDem as prefer boys. Guido let sisters keep some of money, but not enough to make spoiled. Or afford own drugs. Oh, England truly land of aspiration and vision. One day Stanislav be proud uncle Stan to many little Guido bastard. Be proper English gent like Gordon Brown, voices in head and everything.

Anonymous said...:(20:28 17/10/2017) "Stanislav": your "Polish" accent is slipping a bit, dear boy. I'm inclined to think Stanislav is either the Hitch or a Guido alter ego.
stanislav for real said... (21:51  18/10/2007) mr Anonymous - Fuck off English cunt. Stanislav is real person. Not Guido. Not Hitch. Everybody know Stanislav. Fix-up toilet cheap and help economy. In spare time rant and rave like fucking nutter. Is ancient venerable Polish tradition. Same as getting fucked up arse by Germans. Can't help if english improve, is why come in UK, learn English, be doctor, like Stanislav heroes, Gerry and Cilla McCann, not work, Just go in and out of church for tv cameras; just live off public. Is great. Better than politician scam. Only pension not so good and wonky scouse wife go barking. Woof-woof, woof-woof. I is brilliant mother, woof-woof, woof-woof.
Anonymous said... (23:06  18/10/2007) STANISLAV Are you really Matt Allwright from the critically acclaimed 'Rogue Traders'on bbc1(soon to be on channel sky2..probably) doing his impression of the eastern european worker? you fraud mongering scamp..) 
stanislav said...(2:21   19/10/2007) No, is Polish plumber live in Scotland, best part of England and have some time when not down toilet make effort learn about politics in new country. Also has MRSA from shithole hospital run by Mrs Alana Belsen-Johnstone, minister for extermination and is all fucked-up with bug drugs. Can't therefore be BBC entertainer. All those cunts go private. In Bupa, innit?

Call me ishmael said:
"Confiscate car.....Tell driver Yes, You IS Cunt and throw down nearest mineshaft."
He used to make me laugh out loud, stanislav, weep rivers of tears. One guy said his wife had had to call him a fucking ambulance, he'd damaged his sides, laughing so much. His voice and subjects are anachronistic, here, and discordant, but fuck me, Jesus, he was a one-man Zeitgeist of Rage. I wish he was still around. (21/06/2016)
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The Sturdy Beggar and the Impotent Poor       written 1987
Stanislav know Fuck All                         posted 21/06/2016
In conversation on another place         posted  Ocober 2007

Wednesday 24 June 2020

The Great Patriotic War - Thank You

God bless you, and thank you. Our greatest Ally. 
Enjoy your parade. Your suffering and sacrifice is remembered.

The USSR’s losses are now estimated at about 26.6 million, accounting for half of all World War Two casualties. 26.6 million people. More than a third of the entire current population of the United Kingdom. Imagine that. 26.6 million. I can't - never any good with numbers. For comparison - the United Kingdom lost 449,700 people, military and civilian; the Unites States lost 405,399 military personnel.

The memory of the war, known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War, is particularly venerated. In the USSR the end of the war was considered to be May 9, 1945, when the German surrender took effect. The date has become a national holiday – Victory Day – and is commemorated in a grand military parade on Red Square. This year, the Parade was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, and was held today, June 24th, creating a Time Bridge to the Moscow Victory Parade of 1945, ordered by Joseph Stalin:
"Order #370 of the Supreme Commander in Chief, Armed Forces of the USSR and concurrent People's Commissar of State for Defense
To mark the victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War, I order a parade of troops of the Army, Navy and the Moscow Garrison, the Victory Parade, on June 24, 1945, at Moscow's Red Square."

 The  victory parade was held by the Soviet Armed Forces (with the Color Guard Company representing the First Polish Army) after the defeat of Nazi Germany. This, the longest and largest military parade ever held on Red Square in the Soviet capital Moscow, involved 40,000 Red Army soldiers and 1,850 military vehicles and other military hardware. The parade lasted just over two hours on a rainy June 24, 1945, over a month after May 9, the day of Germany's surrender to Soviet commander.

 26.6 million dead.
Have a great Parade and a great Day.

And, in the States, they do things with great gravitas and stage craft:

We have our own way in Britain of honouring the War. (The only war to be instantly recognised just by that: The War)

Cass Pennant, writing in the Spectator:

"Why ‘hooligans’ want to defend statues

‘Saturday the 13th…everyone’s out to go up town to do Antifa. Loads of West Ham, Millwall, Chelsea, Arsenal, Cockney Reds, even northern firms are coming down. It’s gonna be massive. Birmingham are on the prowl up there looking for ’em and their firm’s half black. Saturday everyone has to go.’ There followed some emojis: 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 ⚒️ 👊    (NB the flag should be Union Jack - Ed :-)
I read the text and was amused — but not surprised. Funnily enough the West Ham lot have done ‘statue protection’ before. A few years ago, some of us got up very early to go to Upton Park to protect the monument to our World Cup winners, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore and Martin Peters. Rumors had gone around that Millwall fans were planning to desecrate it. The Hammers fans stood guard. It worked. And last weekend, West Ham and Millwall — not for the first time — buried past feuds to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to guard the already boxed-in statue of Churchill.
I predicted there would be a backlash from the previous attacks on statues. That sort of thing rightly touches a nerve; particularly the defacing of Churchill in Parliament Square. For Britain — and much of the world — he represents the never-surrender backbone that overcame the Nazi threat. And sure, some of the views he expressed are unacceptable today. But it doesn’t take away from what the man achieved."

Sunday 21 June 2020

The Sunday Ishmael - the longest day, 21st June in the Year of Ruin 2020

The Caption Contest
Thank you for your entries. The Dodo's Verdict: Everyone has won and all must have prizes. Especially mr verge.

The News 
There isn't any good news. There isn't any new news. There's lots of same old, same old, news, dressed up in new clothes.  
Surprise! Rich man allegedly attempts to corrupt the planning process.
Covid -19 remains a Bad Thing. People continue to die. But shops and restaurants must open. People must spend. How do you eat spaghetti in a face mask, by the way?
The Party and Event scene crowd in Stuttgart got drunk and abusive. More than a dozen police officers were hurt  during rioting and looting by an indeterminate number of up to 500 people.
The man responsible for a terrorist stabbing in Reading was known to MI5. The fourth suspected terrorist knife attack in recent months followed November stabbings at Fishmongers’ Hall, HMP Whitemoor prison in January and Streatham in February.

And as America's Civil War, commenced on April 12th 1861 and now in its 159th year, continues with burnings, murders and rioting, here's a note from mr ishmael:

I was reading in my apparently uncancellable Time magazine subscription about Hillary Trousers' encounter with a small group of  Black Lives Matter activists in New Hampshire. Yo, bitch, was your ole man, Spunky Bill, introduced this Tough On Crime shit, which means, trouserlady, that black folks, walking down the street, mindin' they own business,  can just get their nigger heads all blown away by any redneck cop who feels like doin' that shit; wochoogottasayboutthat, bitch?
Time magazine, ever gracious to Power, did not report the fleabitten old buzzard's response; we can, however, frame it for ourselves, from our own experience. Aw shucks, I'm just poor Southern trash, jes like y'all, an' it don't mean shit that me an' Spunky Bill done raised a billion dollars in bribes fer ourselves, we's still poor at heart. Y'know, friends, I'm kinda like the Dolly Parton a politics, I came from nothin' to bein' First Lady, an' I done it on my own efforts,  an' by standin' by my man. (sings) sometimes it's hard to be a woman.......
catcalls: Yeah, bitch, stand by yo' man even when he's noncing an intern, Way to go, DykeLady. Pure feminism, that is

The Art Appreciation Pages

The Balinese say: We have no Art. We do everything as well as we can.
  I read those words years ago, decades ago, in McLuhan's Understanding Media, and they are always around, somewhere, on a shelf, a mantelpiece, not prominent but never out of sight.
The intrusiveness of the TeeVee arts presenter has been a regular theme, hereabouts;  recently, we have  focused on Dr Tubby Ramirez, punk-Goth arts historian, and the grotesque Simon Russell Beale, a man who would talk-over Beethoven at prayer,  but we have looked at lots of them, socialist peer, Lord Belbin Bagg, pension fiddler, Alan Yentob, dunderhead Mark Potato, the PBC's cawing Kirsty Wark and many more; it is a  self-ordained priesthood of gabshitery, a predatory band of media-hedin
holypersons, wise ones, explaining to us the sacred mysteries of architecture, painting, writing, even of trashy pop music, 
Yentob, in all seriousness, taking us on a tour of Mark Knopfler's expensive guitars. 

Well, essentially, viewers, Fender only make about a quarter of a million of these per year.  And not all of them are in pink. So that makes this one very rare. A work, in fact, of art; given sixty years of production, there can't be more than  a few million of these in existence. In fact, viewers, I am so up myself to be holding this that I might just piss.  Mmmm, smell the garlic; sometimes I think my bodily functions are a work of art. 
But just mine, not everyone's, obviously.

Yes, Alan, that's so deeply, profoundly, shockingly correct; when I am taking a dump, after a night of delightful pasta and Chianti, purchased for me, naturally, by the license-payer, I think to myself, Simon Russell, these are maestro turds, it is philistinism that they are flushed away.
They belong in the Louvre, my droppings. Where ordinary people can appreciate them
This pseudo-arts-crit posturing has gilded not just  arsehole presenters such as those above  but also his or her - chosen field of arseholery,  creating a Synod of Shit, in which clerics and laity joyously fellate and cunnilingualise one another, rather, one suspects, as happens in Synods and conclaves proper.  Private Eye has at least one regular cartoon devoted to Britain's growing smarmyarmy of artfucks; critics and collectors who compel us to believe that this stinking heap of shit, fag-ends  and condoms

is art.

We were talking a while back about the contradictions of creativity and decay inherent in curating and conserving works of art.  I wouldn't want to be the curator charged with looking after Tracey Emin's bed, dirty fucking slut.
I'd just set fire to the fucking thing.

And her bed, anyway, looks different each time you see it.

In this new church there is no  heresy, no penance to be served, however grave the sin; however disgusting the scandal, there is no excommunication. The charmed circle of celebrity knows no shame, sins are airbrushed away, by the hand of Entertainment's Dark God. And those who have lived a life of criminal debauchery are Hosannahed by people like this prat,

into superstar glory.

As in  most things, with art, we are dictated-to by those who have, by fair means or foul, acquired a lot of money,  people like these,

art collector Saatchi and his coke-snorting ex-wife, Lawson, seen here enjoying an artistic moment.
 Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, doncha just love 'em, love what they've managed to get away with, sharks and shitty beds. No business like showbusiness.

And then there's this numbskull and his tedious, domestic architecture schtick. I know that house-building's not art but Kev and his producers attempt to make it such - cliff-hanging vacuously through each episode,  will the maniacs  finish in time, will the money run out - but Kev always manages to make each madcap project sound as though it has added to the national landscape, is a Versailles, a Castle Howard, just waiting to be discovered.
Zen in the Art of BreezeBlocks

Tarquin and Jocasta really have succeeded in creating a unique home which sits with great integrity in the landscape. (No, Kev, it fucking doesn't, it should be demolished) It may have cost them and their over-indulgent parents an arm and a fucking leg but they and their children, Shelby, Dimitri and Francesca, will enjoy it for many years to come. Or until the hideous, preening, facetious morons turn on each other and divorce, probably next week. 

I wish I could find a phrase for this thing that's happened, whereby art and culture and craft and trade have been NutriBombed, blended into homogenised televisual product, squirted at us by pushy, shameless nobodies.

All I  know about Assyrians is that they  came down like a wolf on the fold. Other than that, until life-long socialist, Sir  Tony Robinson 
I'm only accepting it on behalf of my profession. Archaeology. Not showbusiness.

and his grave-robbing scruffs do a Time Team feature on it, Assyria will remain in a mental file marked Look-up On Wikipedia When You Have Absolutely Nothing Better To Do, i.e. never.

I am surrounded by stoney old shit,  here.  Much, much older than the Tower of London or Kenilworth Castle, some of it is supposed to pre-date the pyramids in Egypt, being five thousand years or so old.  I have seen it all:

The Standing Stones at the Ring of Brodgar

Skara Brae


I once crawled through the Maeshowe tunnel into the burial chamber. Once was enough, maybe once was one time too many.


Dark and painful, half-stooping, half-crawling, arriving in an empty space, five thousand years old, vandalised in the 700s by my Viking ancestors who left graffito such as Sven wuz 'ere, honest. 

There is an enforced  reverence which hangs in the air of all these places, you get a blast  of it when you buy the tickets. I do wonder at  stuff, when I visit these places, but only for a while.  I repaired one of the floors, here, at home, last week, varnished it all up again, and one of the boards I removed was laid well over two hundred years ago and grown some time before that; it had some man-made marks on it which I have yet to decipher but this old bit of pine is as much a link to dead hands as any of the piles of old stones, what am I to do with it? Start a museum? Hang it on the wall? Can't just throw it out, can I, put it in the fire. The place is filled with stuff, one, two, three hundred years old; it is, I sometimes feel, just  a fucking tyranny, the past and its fucking stuff

Doesn't matter where the historic sites are, Lindisfarne is plagued by old biddy Godlessheathenbastards  from English Heritage, tut-tutting their shrivelled,  verminous lives away, watching you suspiciously, as you try to think yourself into the minds of Bede and Cedric; they call Jarrow Monastery BedeWorld, honest, straight-up. 

I had a row at Lindisfarne, with one of the custodianati.  mrs ishmael's grandson, six, was climbing on the walls and this old boot freaked-out. Alright, i'll get him down, I said, screech-screech-screech, she went, he shouldn't be on there in the first place.  He's a little boy, little boys have been climbing these ruins for a thousand years, and he's about the weight of a coupla seagulls. She had, being a minor curator, completely lost perspective - on the building, on history, on God.  I wound-up snarling at her, at her veneration for rocks, at her snooty, violent sense of ownership.

  Every stately home in England is icily guarded by regiments of  these vindictive, blue-rinsed volunteers in  mean, sensible shoes and support hose, daring you to cross through the blue ropes keeping you from contact with the Chippendale,  as though dining chairs were holy fucking relics, as though the cruet sets were silversmithed by God, Himself. It's all Canticle for Liebowitz stuff, this insane reverence for the mundane, and it all keeps us, even today, in line, obedient to fuckpig Dukes - Dimbleby minor, on the radio the other night, YourGrace-ing some arsehole descended from the Duke of Wellington, I nearly crashed the fucking car -  Noncing Monsignors and ancient WiseMen, all the PowerFilth, all the elites, mumbo-jumboing, droit de seigneuring, excommunicating, human-sacrificing, all those rotten bastards who have besmirched human existence; the monastery, the stately home and the stone circle, all remind us that there have always been bastards to lord it over us, keep us off the grass and charge us for entry to our own fucking property, often upon pain of death, torture or both.

And now the keepers of Subservience's Flame have gone global;  we are all supposed to lie awake at night worrying about some old rubbish in Iraq.

God only knows what kind of arseholes built these Assyrian towns, over which everyone has their knickers in a twist but civil liberties and equal opportunities won't have figured at all in their civic ordinances. Boiling in oil, decapitation, flogging  and being pulled-apart by horses was probably the usual drill for freethinkers like us and we may also be certain that health and safety issues went unrecognised - there would have been no hard-hat areas.

I should think that most people in the world have never heard of these artefacts and that only a handful will have visited and in any event, all of it - or enough of it - will have been digitally archived, accessible to scholars and other layabouts with nothing better to do.

If I could Sing Only One Song

I don't do that much talking, these days - doctors, tradesmen, people like that and those conversations are actually a constant negotiation. I might have a chat with someone I bump into, Uptown, hoping it will end very quickly,  but sitting down, drinking and rabbiting is hard going. And the telephone is worse, talking to someone whose face you can't see is like taking a piss wearing gloves.  I am out of practice, therefore, in the art, if such it is, of small talk, I can only do big talk. It's all your fault, for reading this stuff and joining-in; blogging, it is the other woman in my life.

Such conversations as I do have take the form of a quick blog post, not that I do many of them, and are shaped, unknowingly, really, to be completed before being commented upon. It is not quite, Shut Up and Listen, but there is a cadence which beats-out, saying This Is Where I'm Going, This Is Where I've Been, Right, Now We're There, WhaddaYouThink?    

I think it is more respectful and purposeful to communicate thus and maybe those better educated than I have always done so but for me it is relatively novel.

mr ishmael's essays are taken from 2015:

White Folks Do this Shit, too                                drafted 19/7/2015
Trouser Woman Unbound - Black Lives Matter   drafted 29/8/2015
If I could sing only one Song                                drafted 20/7/15 
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Gardening Corner
Some garden portraits I promised you in the Garden is Bent, passim:
 eschallonia as a specimen, which does like to be beside the seaside:

And golden elder:

On the night of the 20th/21st June, the sun sets at 22: 30 and rises next day before 04:00 . The after-glow and the crepuscular light between them ensure that on a cloudless night there is no dark. I took this photo at 11:40 on Saturday night.

Music and quaint folkore page
Richard Durrant - now, I've skipped a few of his virtual gigs, but here he is at Sherwood Forest. Fun encounter with Friar Tuck, and some seriously weird English folk and Morris music. mr ishmael, the musicologist, who revered the Copper Family, and the Incredibe String Band, would have liked this. Me? I like Meatloaf.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

For the Bench is level, but the Garden's Bent

On this special day, the Blog Dog would like to take you for a tour of mr ishmael's garden.

  We'll start with the rosa rugosa,  a sweet-smelling, blossomy corridor.

Would you care to rest on the bench that mr ishmael made? The bench is level, but the garden is bent.
There are a great many trees - this is laburnum
and here's a cordyline from mr mike's part of the world

And strange jungle plants - gunnera, really - eight foot tall, just topping the wall

and lots of flowers everywhere -blue geraniums

and mr ishmael's favourite lupins

and aliums

And now I shall sit me down and tell sad stories of the death of kings.

Sunday 14 June 2020

The Sunday Ishmael 14th June in the Year of Ruin 2020

Be sorry

I'm sorry, 

he she or it is sorry,

 we're sorry, 

they are sorry

He will be sorry

And amidst all this public shaming, sorrow, cancelling of TV series for what was always bad taste, here's some thoughts from mr ishmael, who's not sorry: 

Look, mate, yer music as you call it, is shite, and so's yer thinking, you pathetic little faggot. Just because a geezer has his meat an' potatoes hollowed-out and has a make-believe vagina constructed  out of the poor mangled, butchered flesh;  just because he gets himself some plastic titties and wears dresses, staggers about in fuck-me heels  and makes up like some old slapper;  just because he finds some batshit crazy screwball to fuck him in his phoney fanny,  or up his GaryGlitter, more like, doesn't mean he's a proper woman, does it?  I mean, how can it?  He's a geezer, right, who's had himself all fucked about with just because he thought he'd been deliberately given the wrong chromosomes; trust me, y'little fat freak, he was born a geezer and he'll fuckin' well die a geezer.  I mean, stone me, you can't have people just deciding they can be whatever gender they wanna fucking be, can you?  It's like all those second marriages, where the poor little kiddies're told to call any old bastard their  Daddy or Granddaddy or Nana, when the fact is those fuckers're simply not related to the kids at all, thay just have step-relationships.  Same with blubbering old transwomen, they're not women, they'll never be women, they should just call themselves step-women. 'Strewth,   I couldn't give a rat's ass about who fucks whom or how or in what orifice, and Sheila, formerly Gordon, he or she can bang like a shithouse door in a gale, but it don't make him a woman.  Fuck me Jesus, wanting something doesn't make it so. All these fuckwits wanna do is whine about shit being fair, how it ain't fair that they were born with a cock and not a cunt and that the fucking health service, groaning at the seams, has gotta spend thousands on some sixty year old tranny lunatic so's he and his wife of forty years can now live as two women. Even though they can't, the mad bastards. What was it that Polish bloke stanislav used to say, up against the wall motherfuckers?
Nah, fuck 'em all, the lezzies and the faggots and the madbastard genderbenders.

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He really should take more water with it.

The Sunday Travel Pages

Went to Orkney's old, Norse cathedral to see Haydn's Creation; didn't know it but figured it would be worth the journey and the ticket price and it was. A big, accomplished festival choir, a trio of professional soloists, a wizard organist and the high, ancient, sandy stones; rudimentary by the standards of our Southern and European cathedrals, stark and unembellished, even before Presbyterianism wrought it's charmless, nit-picking, pinch-faced, Godless, heathen bastard iconoclasm, the architecture of the North is bare-boned, testament to dark days and cruel winds, an empty landscape and very limited craftsmanship; neither Romans nor Italian Freemasons crossed Hadrian's Wall, much less the Highlands and the Pentland Firth and Saint Magnus's sons of catholic toil built his cathedral to a barren, Nordic template; no statuary friezes surmount the oaken doors, the squat, rude building has no finials, no gargoyles, no flying buttresses, this is not Yorkmister or Bath and Wells;

there are no splendid oak or pine choirstalls or pews, rows of drab, utilitarian chairs cudgel devotional buttocks and it is easy to imagine some poisonous minister lambasting his Sabbath Day congregants for displaying a little joy or vivacity, his especial, shaming, macho vilification reserved for the woman taken in sin, the Jezebel, the temptress. They had, until relatively recently, a shaming stool, on which the slatternly were abused by their betters.

On one of Orkney's islands, a long way from anywhere, in a bog, is the lonely grave of Betty Corrigal. Betty was a lass seduced by a sailorboy; made pregnant and deserted, Betty endured the shaming of the bullyboy Presbyterians, the elders, people like Gordon Brown and his Da and his brother, until she could endure no more and made an end of herself. In Death, though, she and her child were considered too impure to lie with good Christians and she was thrown into this dire, unconsecrated bog, lest her strumpet bones tempt the dead neighbours, with whom, but for the minister's watchfulness, she would have shared the subterranean kirkyard. Even in Death her sin segregated her, what sort of charity visits the Presbyterian conscience, what forgiveness softens the wrath of sons of the fucking manse ? Her grave, really miles from anywhere, impossible for relative or friend to visit, was unmarked for years until some Outlander grew enraged and made a facsimile tombstone,

God bless him, of fibre glass; her lonely grave, now a tourist attraction, should rebuke the believer, but we know, don't we, what they are like, doing the right thing, for the country; contemptible bastards, Presbyterians. I come of a long line of them - B Specials, Shankill Butchers, Masons, Missionaries and Orangemen.

But the cathedral of Earl Mungo, anyway - once catholic, then Presbyterian and now repellently ecumenical - rocks; the sound is fantastic, unique, beyond synthesis and somebody told me the other night that the organist, wise to the sandstone acoustic, played a little behind or a little ahead, I can't remember which, of the conductor's tempo, so that either the organ would catch-up with the vocal waves as they ran down the cathedral, or vice versa.

It was a tremendous performance, comparable, in my experience, to similar events at Birmingham's acoustically perfectable Symphony Hall and London's Albert Hall; in an archipelego population of about twenty scattered thousands, the Saint Magnus Festival Choir numbers about a hundred; like a dog on his hind legs, a miracle that it happens at all, never mind that it is so accomplished; vast English counties would love to have such a creative whirlpool. But in Creation - in life, as in myth - lies Ruin.

Malawi is big, so to speak, in smart, successful Scotland. It is not so because parts of Scotland share the same mortality rate -male death at 52 - as parts of Africa, nor because twenty per cent of its children are illiterate and innumerate but because it is a charitable posting for Virtue's sinecurees.

Jack McConnell, former Labour First minister,

First Minister McConnell on an official visit to New York, honest, not invent.

ousted by the Jock tribesmen, is set for a retirement post in Malawi, as though the poor natives were insufficiently battered by Life's storms; to Disease and Poverty and Deprivation must now be added the self-serving platitudes of the gabshite, Jock career politician. McConnell, a man useless beyond description, was promoted, miraculously, by Chance. The skinflint Donald Dewar's croaking prematurely, probably from parsimony and folie de grandeur, saw the elevation of Henry McThief and his almost immediate resignation on a pension of a grand a week, following him having done, as is usual with politicians, absolutely nothing wrong. With two First Ministers lost in a matter of weeks, JockLabour was not yet sufficiently desperate to anoint Wendy Halibut Alexander and so Stupid Jack found himself, incredibly, in charge at Holyrood. God help the Malawians that he should go, now, among them, blethering and gabshiteing. Massa McConnell, yo mouth, him all brown. Others, les totalitairianistes jeunesses, go out on what we now call their Gap year, pompous little darlings and some, even more ambitious found, as people will, given half a chance, foundations.

The Musical Director, the other evening, had just returned from a worthy year in Malawi, founding things to make her feel virtuous and she trumpeted her charitable achievements for about a quarter of an hour. The performance was in aid of Malawi, we should reflect about Malawi. And send money. And while we were at it, since this piece was about Creation, we should reflect on what was happening that very day in Copen fucking Hagen. We could all, by vapidly ticking the right boxes, be as seeming virtuous as Madame. I guess it happens everywhere, this preachy shit but I had come to this stony fastness to hear some sacred rock and roll and let God look after the Malawians; waddatheyfuckingwant off me, what does this whining, preening bitch want? I had come to the fucking concert, paid for the tickets, her job was not to improve me but to fucking well entertain me.

And I looked around and did a head count and I thought, well, on a good day my young friend, stanislav, used to get a bigger audience than this, much bigger. And he was blessed with the ability to make people laugh, not to feel artificially virtuous but just to laugh, out loud. He certainly made me laugh. And now here I am, sat on this fucking stool of torture and some snotty bint is trying to make me feel bad but only in comparison to her own Goodness, I might, diligent at her feet, better myself. What is this impudent shit? I was tempted to shout Get Yer Tits Out For The Believers, you know, ironically tempted. And I thought, sometimes Call Me Ishmael gets this big an audience and I have never met, seen or spoken to one soul who visits here, there's no advertisements, no fucking tickets and no proceeds to go to Malawi. Cyber-street entertainment, that's what happens here, evening dress optional. Here is no assumption of GroupVirtue. It is a Blairism, this caring, virtuous self-appraisal which people now routinely, shamelessly undertake in public; a new dawn of moralising vanity.

I have been on drugs and I slept through the end of the conductor's self validation and through part of the first part of Mr Haydn's Creation but when I awoke I became fully engaged. It was very, very good. All that repeated, four-part, declamatory piety - And His name shall be magnified among the Nations -I'm a sucker for all that stuff. The choruses were all, it seemed, head-banging, full-on, hard-core and the choir seemed utterly enraptured to be singing them but the solo recitatives overlong, turgid to my ear. I don't know much Haydn and much as I enjoyed the concert I haven't yet been tempted to look for The Creation on YouTube or Spotify, although I might in a moment.... .

At the end of the performance of The Creation, the usual formalities were observed - soloists, organist, choir and Miss Malawi all took their bows to huge applause; they all clapped each other in turn and then finally, as now happens, Obamaesquely, they clapped us as we were still clapping them. I don't know who among us, if any, was thinking of the wee Malawians and the charitable musical foundations we were giving them but the whole place was reelin' and a-rockin', clapping like happy penguins.

This mutual applause finale was the arrival of Reality's descant and effectively torpedoed the self-aggrandisement of the Musical Director's ruinous, introductory vanities. Children In Need is bad enough but at least you can hide from those bastards or, on occasion, hit them, but we shouldn't be subjected to cheesy charity banditry on such an occasion as a concert of sacred music, not when we have have already paid once, to get in; this was Paisleyite braggaddacio, cheeky cow. This new convention of artist clapping audience/employer/patron underscores the mutuality of the event, makes all present valid and deserving, undermines the preachy bully-pulpit formerly afforded celebrity.

People often write graciously of these commentaries, as though they were mine, as though I had ownership of the event of their reading. I usually remark that - as with the performance in St Magnus' Cathedral, or anywhere else - it is the audience to whom the credit must go, the audience brings itself and enables the event as surely as does the most inspired virtuoso; this would be as true of a Pablo Casals performance as it would of a Kylie Minogue concert. If there is no audience there is no entertainment, no art - does a tree, falling unheard in a quiet forest, actually make no noise? And is it not the essence of quantum physics that to measure by observation is to change that being observed? The performers bring only their performance, more or less rigidly rehearsed, concerted; the audience, disparate, inchoate, brings an arena in which creativity may flower. A hundred and odd people would not for months rehearse a lengthy and difficult choral piece were it not for the assumption of audience; it is the audience and not the performer who catalyse creativity; that each now applauds the other is right and proper, the one rewarded for technique, industry and invention, the other for attendance and validation and comment.

All the comments, sixty-nine of them, on a previous post, therefore, are a little unnerving. All I do is write this stuff. There is a book's worth, here and at other places; maybe several books' worth. I don't know. Regulars will know I keep no archive, of this or of my young friend, mr stanislav's ouevre. It is not a book, you see, or anything which I regard as complete or -with the odd exception - especially worthy; it is just commentary and it would not exist if nobody read it. In that sense, therefore, like the performance of Haydn's Creation, it is a joint effort, vague and anonymous

mr ishmael's draft essay
Normal Service will be Resumed  was written 23/12/2009 

mr ishmael's thoughts on surgical re-gendering were extracted from 

Ending with Richard Durrant's third imaginary concert - in Edinburgh - bit of chat, and sublime guitar.