Tuesday 30 November 2021

Sunday 28 November 2021

The Sunday Ishmael 28/11/21

Which story shall we feature today, from this week's grubby pack of cards?

New Variant omygodcron out of Africa? Dr Angelique Coetzee says not to worry, you'll be fine.
War with France?
J'suis rolling up mes manches, Borees . And that Prittee can't come to my party.
Europe's leaky border with Bellarus? And Morocco? And Turkey?
Britain's with France?
stupid blow-up rubber dinghies.

Ru Paul's Drag Race?
will someone carefully explain to me why this isn't a contemptuous mockery of women?
 Is Everything OK, Prime Minister?

Lobsters and crabs are sentient and object to being boiled to death?

Storm Arwen?

Oor Gnasher, speaking to Andrew Marr on the eve of her Conference speech to her party? 
Slow down - always fun watching Marr wind her up. 
There were 300 extra deaths this year in Scotland, Mrs Fish.
 I'm responsible.
Yes, you are. A man died after waiting forty hours for an ambulance in Glasgow.
Well, I'm not responsible for that. When I say I'm responsible, I mean that I'm responsible in the sense of having responsibility as First Minister, but I don't drive the ambulances or anything.

As First Minister, can you tell me why there are 1,358 acute beds less in the NHS than when you became responsible?
That's because when my mum had her cataract surgery she was in hospital for weeks. Now we get them back on the streets in a day.
It is estimated that Scotland needs 1000 extra beds to deal with the backlog.
Well, that's because there are over 1,000 people in hospital as what we call "delayed discharges".
Why is that, First Minister?
Because there is no capacity in the community.
Ah, thank you for that, First Minister. And will you be announcing the date of the Independence referendum in your speech to the SNP Conference tomorrow?
No, Andrew, don't be silly. Covid. I'm fighting a pandemic here in Scotland.
No, this Sunday, I'll be going with the class war, as usual.
mr mongoose said: "The truly cheaper energy source (nuclear) has been badmouthed and demonised all my life, and yet deaths and illnesses from nuclear power are a fraction of a single 1% of all the slaughter of oil and coal over the years."
Which neatly segues into this story, which can be heard in full on BBC Sounds - Aberfan: Tip Number 7, and was dramatised in Series 3 of  The Crown.
Ishmaelites who are aged 55 and younger can have no contemporaneous memories of the Welsh mining disaster on the 21st October 1966, yet the sheer horror of it has seared itself into our collective unconscious. 
It looks like a lava flow - but this disaster, which, as you can see, destroyed a farm, 20 terraced houses and the Pantglas Junior School, depositing mud and rubble in depths of up to 33 feet, was entirely man-made and entirely avoidable. The Merthyr Vale Colliery had been established in the nineteenth century, and a town had developed at Aberfan, the sole purpose of which was the extraction of coal from underground, in the usual conditions of extreme dangerousness attendant on coal mining. After nationalisation, the National Coal Board took over the profits and liabilities - liabilities that included the seven mountainous slag heaps that surrounded the little town of 5,000 people. Slag heaps are a by product of coal extraction, comprising unwanted soil and rubble, just parked up in man made massive heaps. Inherently unstable - with no attempts to stabilise them, as that would eat into profit, the Aberfan slag heaps were more unstable than most as the rubbish waste products were dumped on underground springs. The NCB had been repeatedly warned about the danger these unstable mud mountains presented - especially Tip Number 7, as it loomed over the village school. After heavy rain, the tip went, sliding down the valley, destroying everything in its path. Two broken water mains continued to pump water into the slurry, adding between 2 and 3 million gallons of water to the spoil slurry, which continued to move through the village. There was no time to evacuate the school. 
The corpses of 116 children and 28 adults were extracted with extreme difficulty from the compacted slurry over a period of a week, and were stored in the nearby Bethania Chapel, pending burial in a mass grave.
Queen Elizabeth II, by then a monarch of 13 years' experience in the job, delayed her visit to Aberfan by 8 days, thinking that was for the best.
The subsequent report of the Aberfan Disaster Tribunal said: "The Aberfan Disaster is a terrifying tale of bungling ineptitude by many men charged with tasks for which they were totally unfitted, of failure to heed clear warnings and of a total lack of direction from above."
It was said that this was corporate negligence towards the working class.
No-one was prosecuted, no-one from the National Coal Board lost their jobs. The Chairman of the NCB tendered his resignation, as a PR gesture, after being assured that his resignation would not be accepted. 
All of this was bad enough, but subsequent actions were appalling. A Disaster Fund had been established, with contributions flowing in from around the world. My dad didn't contribute. He said Corporate Greed and the Government had caused the disaster and they had to make it good. Poor people sending in their pounds and shillings would let the perpetrators off the hook. That's what happened. The Disaster Fund reached £1.75 million. The National Coal Board refused to pay for the removal of the remaining six unstable slag heaps. The Government removed £150,000 from the Disaster Fund to pay for the removal. That sum was eventually repaid by Government in 1997 - thirty-one years later, with no accounting for inflation, which would have put the sum to be repaid at around £1million.
The victims' families were treated as trouble makers. Some children had been pulled out of the slurry alive. When the sounds of a child buried in the mud and filth were heard by the rescuers, a whistle was blown, the whole scene fell silent, so that rescuers could hear where the trapped child was making efforts to save themselves from drowning or suffocation, and then scrabble away the slurry with their bare hands to avoid further injuring the trapped child.
The Aberfan Disaster Fund wanted to pay compensation to those surviving children for their trauma. However, the Fund's trustees believed that proof of trauma would be required by the Charity Commission and so the children were subjected to medical tests in a psychiatric hospital. Survivor Gaynor Madgwick described the test: thick gel was put in her hair and a cap was put on her head.
"You were then plugged into a board - the board was behind your head on the bed - like a piece of wood board. There were all these plugs and leads coming out of the board which would be fixed into the cap on your head and you had to sit there and be interrogated, basically. You had to stare at these different lights and follow this beam that went around the room. It was torture, interrogation. You lost all sense of who you were."

Gerald Kirwan,  eight years old when he was rescued, said he was attached to machines and asked if he was afraid of the dark or if he had nightmares. He said: "I was thinking... you better not say the wrong thing or you might not be coming back out of here. It was just horrifying."

 Jeff Edwards was the last child pulled out alive. He said he was taken to the hospital every three to four months."Being fitted with these head devices with electrodes all on and flashing lights was a really frightening experience. I used to hate going down there. It was not a children's hospital as such. It was a mental institution for people who were quite seriously mentally ill."

The Aberfan Disaster Fund also wanted to give bereaved families £5,000 - the Charity Commission eventually  sanctioned that sum after initially holding out for £500, but advised that "before any payment was made, each case should be reviewed to ascertain whether the parents had been close to their children and were thus likely to be suffering mentally".

Parents were questioned about their feelings for their children. It was as though the working class were a different species, lacking human emotion. Ironic - as the working class do not send their children away from home at the age of 7 or 8 to cry themselves to sleep in expensive boarding schools, and, if really unlucky, to be beaten and buggered by senior boys and masters.  

When the sealed documents were released after 30 years, the Charity Commission expressed regret - the regret can be summarised along the lines of we're sorry we've been found out, the past is a foreign country, they did things differently then and we won't do it again. 

Less than 20 years  after the Aberfan disaster, Mrs Thatcher solved the problems presented by working class mining communities. The Miner's Strike of 1984 to 1985 was led by Arthur Scargill of the National Union of Mineworkers against the National Coal Board in an attempt to prevent colliery closures - which would destroy mining communities and livelihoods. Opposition to the strike was led by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who wanted to reduce the power of the Trade Union movement. mr ishmael reviewed a BBC documentary about the Miner's Strike:


Well worth a look, on many levels, this is contemporaneous documentary about the miners strike of 1984, spliced into a  a recent  history of coal  mining  versus the greenhouse gases agenda;  one couldn't help but think that many of those types who coalesced around the miners would, today, be damning them as ecovandals; protest, like hemlines, comes  dictated by political haute couturistes, angry layabouts at the Guardian, policing consumerisme totalitarienne, as though all we need to do is make  constantly evolving informed choices and Money's teeth will be painlessly pulled;  in my short, sweet lifetime coalmining - and, inescapably, coal burning - has been both virtue and vice;  miners lionised, salt of the Earth blokes; miners holding the country to ransom, the enemy within.  That the workshy at the BBC make a series called All Our Working Lives is an irony simply too delicious,  darling.

Mr jgm2, mr mongoose and others who congregate here lament ever the nineteen-seventies' shortsightedness of organised labour and to a lesser degree the multiple incompetences of management and directors and insist that Ruin would not be so complacent had the unions been more co-operative - supposing the managers had had something on offer to co-operate with - if we had some eggs we could  have ham and eggs,  if we had some ham,  that sort of thing, ifs and ands, if ifs and ands were pots and pans there'd  be no need for tinkers and there'd be horses for beggars to ride on.  I have never bought the argument that recalcitrant shop stewards buggered the economy, buggered industry, buggered everything.  I believe that much that we rightly take for granted  is due to organised labour in the early and mid-twentieth century,  that all Tories are bastards, that Growth - population, consumption, energy expenditure - the Tory  mantra of spunkfaced zombie boy and his gang - and by Tory I mean Labour, LibDem and the rest of consumerisme totalitairienne -  is actually a synonym  for planetary suicide, but fuck all that, there's enough air left to see me out, enough living seas;  poison clouds are only just forming on the horizon, I'll be in the bosom of Abraham by the time zombieism runs its course.  The miners strike, though, viewed through this prism,  is almost enough to make a believer of me, to convert me to the  labour-bashing cause.

Bob Dylan sang in 1964's North Country Blues that the Minnesotan Iron Range ore wasn't worth diggin',  it's much cheaper down in the South American towns, where the miners work almost for nothing -  early globalisation laying waste to communities defenceless against Money's pursuit of itself and in 'eighties Britain many felt that our mining communities would soon suffer the same, stars one by one they are folding, fate - coal bought-in, from abroad, their men made workless and depressed, their children made migrant;  these were decent and righteous concerns shared by many.  The strike became a focus for wider anxieties, for a head-to-head between the Then and the Now and in the brouhaha, in the All-I-Can-Do-Is-Confrontation posturing of Whisky Maggie, we all lost sight of the concept of Energy Security and Self-Sufficiency, of  the fact that, maybe, these pits could have been made more competitive, less a filthy subterranean co-operative, more of an energy business, and maybe they would still be working, today, cleaner,  vastly safer, massively more productive, maybe, most likely a carbon-capture technology in place,  the envy of the world.  All that stored-up sunshine, cleanly harvested, employing people.

Thatcher, though, happily pissing North Sea Oil revenues up the wall, the mad bastard, concerned herself only with a short-sighted, Methodist victory over her tribal enemies, cheered-on by vengeful,  gutless spivs like Tebbit and that foul, screeching  bullyboy, Ingham, she spun and she spun and she blew the mines down. Job done. Pour concrete down the mines.  Rejoice, we are a fuckwit.

In the programme, once prominent strikers, union officials  and scabs appeared,  following footage of themselves  shot during the strikes. These blokes, twenty-five years on, proudly still speak their fucking awful dialects, nobutting and summating and  'appenyerrightin' and loosin' and middlin' and mashin'; Jesus fucking wept, self-caricaturisng 'emselves, as though whole o t'world were a play, like, by that DH Lawrence, and them all reight good sooarts, werkin chaps, like. I wanted to punch them hard in the gob.  I kind of agreed with them about the scabs, although the scabs made a good Thatcherite, right to work case for themselves and who could not be pissed off by the Tory politicisation of the cops,  made crass and irreversibly  obvious during the strike, but, oh, the language of these men, long redundant, handsomely so.  We all have an argot - lovers, families, trades, regions but to go on national telly and speak like a sub epsilon Morlock is unforgiveable, a take-it-or-leave-it contempt for the viewer, and most significantly a diminution by slipshod carelessness of the  arguments they made in the 'eighties about the strength and importance of their communities,  the social capital which would be squandered by mine closures;  interviewed today these men sounded like extras from Heartbeat or Emmerdale Farm. It's not as though they can't speak English, of course they can, it's just that, Oh fuck, I don't know what it is, but it's fucking stupid, like them; stage Lancashire, stage Yorkshire, stage Notting-um;  All Our Yesterdays  meets The Good Old Days,  political struggle togged-up as music hall. Wankers.

But the greatest revelation to me was not the shallowness of the workers but the almost laughable shallowness of their champion-for-life, Arthur Scargill.  More  shrilly Thatcher than Thatcher herself, Arthur was nothing less than a diva, operatic in his fists clenched to his bosom, his arms outstretched, his head, though, rigidly immobile, lest dramatic gesture disturb his comb-over.  
These days, men like Arthur can shave their heads and not be fucking about with all that comb-over nonsense, can look like hardmen, even when they're fairies,  fairies with  shining  skulls, like Ross Kemp and, well, all of them, really; just  a different masculine vanity, it's true, but less cumbersome, less at the mercy of the wind.  And Scargill's rhetoric was as phony as his haircut, difficult to credit that it inspired tens of thousands to beggar themselves. Lambchop sideburns and hair picked up on one side and deposited on the other, Scargill gave his own version of Prince Hal's speech, when your children ask you where you were, you can say you were on strike, men now abed will wish they were on strike, it was fucking dreadful, really, it was, made Gordon Snot look sincere and eloquent. Maybe all the miners were fairies and it was all, Orgreave and Saltley and the rest, a big, dirty, GayPride event. What was Arthur like, getting arrested and everything, like a silly big girl?  For there was nothing pragmatic about  Arthur, he was no technocrat, no visionary, not even a polemicist, a one hit wonder's what he was, Strike and Never Surrender, what matters is not the industry, not your jobs, not the nation's energy, what matters is me, and No, comrade-darlings, I am not bald;  like Thatcher, he was a rabble-rouser, both of them too vain, too stupid to even recognise the damage they were doing. Maggie, Maggie, Maggie;  Ar-thur Scar-gill, Ar-thur Scar-gill, we'll support you ever more, ev-er more......

It is a fascinating documentary, interviews with Rudge, the man who bought many of the pits and made shitloads of money, hint at what might have happened, had the nation and the miners not been governed by screeching fuckwits, each as bad as the other, each emblematic of their own constituents, too stupid and too selfish to breathe. The sinister appearances of  the National Coal Board's Ian McGregor, Thatcher's imported US industrial gangster, foreshadow Enron and Goldman Sachs and Haliburton, all the shit we now take for granted, pimps and gangsters advising the govament on how best to short-change the people.

The closing sequence is of one of those dialecting babymen, proper  over t'moon, that his lad has followed him underground and now works maintaining the high speed belts which retrieve coal from the face, in an industry which now, where it once numbered more than  a hundred thousand,  employs six thousand. And we fret that some Ukrainian bandit might turn off our energy.
In the good old days, to which spunkface zombieboy would return us, coalmines were in  careless, private  hands;  the Gresford Mining Disaster,  in which 242 colliers were lost, and three men of the rescue brigade, was one of those terrible events which underpinned Scargill's shabby,
vainglorious rhetoric,  the owners' lust for profits far outweighing the safety of the miners.  For those interested, the Albion Band's telling  of the Gresford Mining Disaster is on youtube. 

There's more from mr ishmael and his young friend Stanislav in the two books: Honest Not Invent and Vent Stack from Lulu or Amazon. It is cheaper to buy from Lulu. Register an account with Lulu to save a couple of quid, as going straight into the link provided below seems to make paypal think it's ok to charge in dollars, and apply their own conversion rate, which will put the price up slightly for a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow our link; a pop-up box asks for age confirmation - simply set the date to (say) 1 January 1960, and proceed. (If you type the title, the anthology will not appear as a search result until the "show explicit content" box - found at the bottom left by scrolling down - has been checked.  You may also see the age verification box, as above, at this point.) 

 The full title is "Vent Stack love from stanislav" by ishmael smith, and the cover you'll see is red with white titles and a picture of Buster the Previous Blog Dog having a green thought in a green shade. 

Link for the paperback:



shorter link, which might make it easier if you wish to paste it into an email and tell a friend:


 Honest, Not Invent is available in paperback or hardback.
Link for Hard Back : 


Link for Paper Back


At checkout, try PROWRITINGAID15, WELCOME15 or TREAT15 in the coupon box, which  takes 15% off the price before postage.  If this code has expired by the time you reach this point, try a google search for "Lulu.com voucher code" and see what comes up.  
With the 15% voucher, the book (including delivery to a UK address) should cost £10.89

Image caption,

Friday 26 November 2021

Evensong: Trip to the Moooooooooon

 Here you go - the Favourite Apprentice's favourite Sinatra.

Trip to the Mooooon would emerge from the depths of a Victorian Compactum, where the Favourite Apprentice was cleaning a century and a half of dust with a rag dipped in Briwax.  I blame the Toluene. In combination with a system immersed in alcohol from a night out with the Animals.  
 Don't let them take the tin of Briwax in with them. Or close the door.
There would be the occasional thump as apprentice bodies fell out of the 'pactum, having taken a trip to the moooon on toluene wings. Just open the window, mr ishmael would say, bracingly.

Thursday 25 November 2021

 mr mongoose said:"the next big opportunity for a political realignment will be the explosion of the Green bollocks. This will happen the day that Josephine Public works out that it means that her domestic energy bill gets multiplied by five if everything is electric. "Oh, but green energy will be cheaper", says Bojo. Oh, aye, of course it will. " Gnasher's Leap of Faith

Let me invite you to run this little video - won't take you long - for a fabulous example of Newspeak and Newthink. The video would lead you to suppose that we have so much electricity here that we can heat our swimming pools, floodlight our homes and gardens, roast our oxen, run washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers non stop, run our electric vehicles and none of it costs a penny. And we have to turn off the wind turbines because there is so much electricity we can't use it all up. You know what? That's bollocks, that is.
Same old, same old - the rich get richer and the poor get children. 
The electricity produced in the Orkney Isles does not benefit the lieges one jot. Not one iota. Not one kilowatt hour.  Nope, we buy it from Scottish and Southern Electricity and its clones, just like everyone else.

This really has gone far enough

 Now, if anyone called me a liberal, I'd have to haul off and pop them one in the eye, but I'm certainly a humanitarian (quite a lot of the time), and this has gone far enough. We, as a nation, really must say up with this we will no longer put. No, really, it has gone far enough and it is time for the British Dunkirk spirit.
Interviewed on yesterday's Today in Parliament, Radio 4's late night programme for insomniac news obsessives, 
an hysterical French official was declaiming the impossibility of the French doing anything at all to halt the desperate migrant army from taking to the November seas in stupid little blow-up dinghies 
to reach the paradise islands of Britain. Zere ees  so much Coastline, he spluttered. So many Sand Dunes. Eet ees eempossible. 
Oh, come on, we've seen news reels of the might of the French constabulary watching le departure, chatting and smirking while smoking their Gitanes.
No good handing over cash to the French to prevent migrants setting off in stupid little blow-up dinghies designed to hold between 30 to 50 people in a calm sea, and sinking under the weight of more than 50 in heavy seas, high waves, ice cold water - for fuck's sake - this is a humanitarian crisis on our doorstep, and the French have no motivation whatsoever to prevent it. 
(a) they have always hated les rosbifs, 
b) they hate us worse than ever after le Brexit 
(c) they have their own migrant crisis to deal with.
(d) And they think its funny. 
So, here's the solution - launch all the little Dunkirk boats, and the big Navy boats, get across the Channel, and scoop up all the migrants. 
Search the Sand Dunes, train floodlights on the Coastline, net them all, and bring them into these Paradise Islands. Park a big FuckOff Ship off the coast to pick up any stragglers.
And pop them into internment camps, for processing. And whilst being processed, they can be useful to their adopted country. The Churchill Barriers need upgrading. The beaches need cleaning. The crumbling  city infrastructures need shoring up. Hard work in the fresh air, compulsory English lessons twice daily, three good hot meals a day, heavy on suet, gravy and protein, warm clothes, knitted ganseys and good English leather boots. The people smugglers can go in with them. I'll give them Paradise Islands. And if they want to build a mosque - crack on with it, here's some concrete, a Nissan hut and some paint - we did as much for the Italian Prisoners of War and they produced a terrific tourist destination - plucky little Eyeties and their Italian Chapel.
Like I said, I'm really not a liberal. But I am a humanitarian. And the French are neither.

Dutch Demand Right to Catch Covid


Wednesday 24 November 2021

Gnasher's Leap of Faith

Here we go, here we go, here we go, leaping into the Future

Now, who does this remind me of?  

Sunday 21 November 2021

The Sunday Ishmael 21/11/21

If you live in St. Alban's, Hertfordshire, it is best to go to bed fully clothed in case the police make another mistake. Eddie Croasdell was the victim of the incompetence of Hertfordshire Police last Sunday morning, when he was woken from his sleep by a hammering on his door. Fortunately, security video footage exists so there's no plausible deniability here. Armed, armoured and belligerent, police trained a weapon directly at the peephole and yelled at him to open up, which he very promptly did, with his hands in the air. Best to co-operate. If a senior official of the Chinese Communist Party decides to honour you with a sexual assault, the best thing to do is to say Thank you very much, sir, I enjoy. The Police rounded  56 year old Mr. Croasdell  up and made him stand outside in his t shirt and boxer shorts for 20 minutes. Hertfordshire Police have subsequently said that officers had been called to respond to reports of somebody being held at knifepoint and that time was of the essence. A spokeswoman said: "Information about the exact location of the alleged victim was not clear and armed officers presented at a number of flats as part of their initial inquiries". 
How many is "a number"? 
How many terrified innocent citizens had the powerful lights shone in their eyes, the laser sights targeted on their bodies, their doors hammered in?
What is captured on the video is not officers "presenting" at people's front doors. Presenting is more about polite knock, excuse us for troubling you, sir or madam, wonder if you could help us with our enquiries.
Wonder if they found the alleged perpetrator?
Granted, it's a rum place, St Alban's; police shootouts, drug wars, teenage deaths. Maybe it's because it is built on a hellmouth:

Sinkhole opened in St Alban's May 2021

In a lifestyle that provides a stark contrast to the police hammering on your door, Thames Valley Police have refused to comment on who is paying for the security they provide to Prince Andrew, at an estimated cost of £500,000 per year. It is said that one of the duke’s principal problems is that he and the duchess desire a lifestyle that is beyond their means. Well, yes. And me. I desire that, too. The Duke of York, however, refuses to rub along on an official income of £250,000 p.a. tax free from his mother, the Q.E.II, plus his naval pension of £20,000 p.a. accrued from his 22 years of naval service from  1979 to 2001. Tom Bower, royal biographer, said: “(The Duke and Duchess of York) have an appetite for luxury which is beyond the understanding of mere mortals. There’s a sense of entitlement in it all, that is the real problem. They think nothing is too much for them." In 2020 Andrew bought a £220,000 Bentley to add to his two Range Rovers. He also has a collection of luxury watches, including several Rolexes and Cartiers and a £150,000 Patek Philippe
His home life is not simple. 
He and the Duchess live at Royal Lodge, a 30-room cottage set in nearly 100 acres of Windsor Great Park in Berkshire, owned by the Crown Estate, to which the duke pays a notional rent, but bearing the costs himself of upkeep and staffing which are estimated to be up to £1 million a year. 
He also has a little place in Verbier, 
a Swiss ski resort, which he bought for £16.6 million, but failed to pay the final installment, of £6.6 million, for which he is being sued.

Norman Baker, a former government minister who has written a book about royal finances, believes that the duke’s extravagance has forced him into trying to supplement his income by building business relationships with a list of dubious associates. He said:  “Andrew has had a succession of benefactors, deeply unpleasant people mostly, who want to be associated with someone from the royal family and he’s been prepared to be associated with them in return for money. He once took a diamond necklace worth £18,000 as a gift from a convicted Libyan gunrunner. These are the sort of people he’s dealing with.”

 Most notably, of course, the  paedophile and sex trafficker, financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The Times has revealed that from 2015 the duke was borrowing an average of £125,000 every three months from a credit facility offered by Banque Havilland, an institution owned by the Rowland family. The duke made a final withdrawal of £250,000 in November 2017, then 11 days later the whole debt was cleared by David Rowland. Buckingham Palace conduct rules state that members of the Royal Family  should never accept gifts of money, or money equivalent in connection with an official engagement or duty. Time his finances are investigated, at the very least by HMRC - oops - that's Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Service. His mum. Oh, well.

Meantime, he is being sued by Virginia Giuffre for allegedly sexually abusing her. He has stated that the law suit is frivolous and that she is bringing it in search of "a payday". He should know all about that. He remains a “person of interest” in the US investigation into Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, alleged procuress.

Ghislaine Maxwell has spent the past 16 months in solitary confinement within a
10ft by 12ft prison cell inside New York's  Metropolitan Detention Center, with a rat for company and being woken every 15 minutes during the night by having a light shone at her to determine if she is still breathing.
They don't mess about, the Americans.

Tom Bower described the duke’s business activities as “shameless”. He said: “He is a man of unbelievable bad judgment and remarkable greed. And with each step his past catches up with him.”
Horrible fucking bastard. How long will we allow The Firm to make monkeys out of us?

Weather News
Let's cheer ourselves up with a word or so from mr ishmael. We're having quite a mild November, in the run up to the Great Capitalist Feast, but not so in the winter of 2009 to 2010, called The Big Freeze of 2010 by British media. The first snowfall was in November 2009. January 2010 was the coldest January since 1987 in the UK. When mr ishmael wrote this on the 6th January 2010, it had been cold for a very long time.

And now over to our blizzard correspondent, Jenny Tits. 
Jenny, what can you tell us about the grit? Well, Kay, there isn't any, although they say they will be getting some, just before they run out, which they already have but only nearly. Only not in Scotland, where they have already run out but since everything's always shit in Scotland, running out of grit hardly seems to matter. Jock manages to fall over a lot whatever the weather. Do you know, Kay, that one in five Jock pupils leaves school unable to read, write or add up ? One in fucking five, Jenny? That's almost fifteen per cent, is it the lard do you suppose, makes them so stupid? But what about the Big Freeze in other parts of the country? Over now to Jayne Tits in Northumberland. 
Jayne, you're in Cockinmouth, not long since they were flooded, how are they coping with all this. Yes, Kay and thank you. Well, Kay, as you wander around the whitened council estates you can see they're throwing the plasma tellies and the three piece cardboard suites out in the garden, as usual, even though there's nothing wrong with them, just a gut reaction, I guess, Kay, a bit of bad weather and everybody's thinking of insurance claims and those without insurance are hoping for handouts from the government. Earlier I spoke to Gavin Whine. Aye, bonny lass, seems like just as we wuz gettin on us feet, like, after all yon floodin' and shite here we are again, back in square peg one, like, 'avin' to overstate the value of our possessions which have all been so irreparably damaged by the torrential snow outside, like, gutted, I am bonny lass, totally and absolutely gutted. Aye and devastated, too. It's the bairns I feel sorry for, bonny lass, they's only just got a forty-incher each, in their bedrooms, like, and now we gotta throw them oot in the garden and start all over again, the tellies, I mean, not the weans. I love my kids, I do, ask anyone down the Whingers Arms. 
That was Kevin Geordie, talking to me earlier. Police are urging drivers to stay at home and not make them get out of their Subaru and BMW cars into the cold weather, attending emergencies and helping people. Not our duty, that, they say, no, chasing stolen Fiestas with helicopters, that's us, and the recreational tasering of innocent people, not as though we were an emergency service, if people want help in the bad weather they should join the AA, not that they are any help, currently experiencing unprecedented demand, that's what they say. So that's the message from this empty grityard here in Oxfordshire. Everything's fucked, roads are shit, pavements are shit, A&E departments are telling old people who've fallen over and broken their hips to stay where they are and not send for an ambulance as the ambulances are all fucked as well. There's not enough grit, they are down to their last half-hour's worth but the chief executive of the council says some bullshit or other to cover his well-padded arse. Here is Mr John Gob talking to me earlier. 
Well, Jenny, as a council we are committed to doing the very best for our senior management and if this means there's no fucking grit well that's the price that motorists and old people have to pay in exchange for a top-notch professional council, such as mine and which, I have to say, leads the country in being good for fuck all. I mean, salt, and grit, or whatever, 'snot as though it costs a fortune, dig it up out of the ground they do, I understand, you'd think we'd have a stockpile, but, as Mr Clarkson says, you'd be wrong. 
Music Review
 ME AND THE BAND 15/8/14

You might think he loves you for your money
but I know what he really loves you for...
I first saw  the ensemble which became The Band in 1966, in front of a huge Stars'nStripes, backing a very wasted Bob Dylan.  It was his first acoustic-electric tour of the UK, well, the world, actually,  and dressed in a ridiculous  hounds-tooth suit he mumbled his way through a forty or so minute first-half, unaccompanied, save by his own guitar and harmonica.  For many, although not for me, this was their first glimpse of Dylan and just seeing him was enough;  that he was, what shall we say, pharmaceutically-fuelled, smashed out of his head was irrelevant; unlike his urgent, mesmerising  virtuosity of the previous year's solo tour, these performances were  chaotic and self-indulgent, an early indication of the contempt for his audience which he displays to this day.  These're my songs an I'll mumble them anyway I choose; I'm an artist.
I'm not sleepy and there ain't no place I'm going to.
 After the intermission the curtains rolled back and there were the wee man  and his  free electric band, the Hawks, well most of them, in front of Uncle Sam's flag.  Dylan's Gibson  acoustic had been swapped for a Fender Telecaster and there commenced nearly an hour of  Traincrash  Music from the Apocalypse.
 Wa-a-a-ansaponatime yadressofine, threw the bums a dime
inyaprime DIDANCHOO?
And you know something is happening here
 but you don't know what it i-i-is, 
do you, Mister Jones?

 I had never heard anything like it. I still haven't. Apart from, maybe,  a Captain Beefheart concert,  years later.

I can't remember the running order, although there will be many Bobsessives who have it all writ down in holocaust-survivable formats, maybe buried ten miles below ground, for Posterity, as if Posterity gives a fuck;  these are the same people who treasure tape-recordings of Bob's kettle boiling or his dog barking.  I never went for any of that bootlegging,  privacy invasion stuff,  never bought any bootleg recordings or studio out-takes, seemed dreadfully impolite, like reading someone's letters or diaries.  Most of the stuff, anyway, was from his electric albums with a couple of things - I Don't Believe You & One Too Many Mornings, - from acoustic times,  further back, now chewed-up and spat-out, shocked, bewildered and bedraggled.  It was magnificent.
I didn't see either Dylan or the Band, as they had now formally re-titled themselves, until the mythical Isle of Wight festival of 1969.  It was late in the evening and the sun was going down when the Band appeared;  everybody was stoned, it was like a New Testament re-enactment, not the feeding but the stoning of the five thousand, only it was  two hundred thousand, a quarter of a million, I dunno, a sea of people, joints passing around, people gifting ten-bob (50p) deals to one another, strangers;  there was, naturally, something  in the air, maybe it was the playing from the stage, during intermissions of Hare Krish-a-na, Hare Krish-a-na, Krishna-Krishna, Hare-Hare, a suprise hit of that summer but whatever it was, the fellowship of the weed, maybe,  people left expensive photographic and audiotape gear just lying in the field, wandered off for half an hour, came back and it was still there.

Acoustic Half 

"She Belongs to Me"
"4th Time Around"
"Visions of Johanna"
"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"
"Desolation Row"
"Just Like a Woman"
"Mr. Tambourine Man" 
Electric Half
"Tell Me, Momma"
"I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)"
"Baby, Let Me Follow You Down"
"Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"
"One Too Many Mornings"
"Ballad of a Thin Man"
"Like a Rolling Stone"
There's more from mr ishmael and his young friend Stanislav in the two books: Honest Not Invent and Vent Stack from Lulu or Amazon. It is cheaper to buy from Lulu. Register an account with Lulu to save a couple of quid, as going straight into the link provided below seems to make paypal think it's ok to charge in dollars, and apply their own conversion rate, which will put the price up slightly for a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow our link; a pop-up box asks for age confirmation - simply set the date to (say) 1 January 1960, and proceed. (If you type the title, the anthology will not appear as a search result until the "show explicit content" box - found at the bottom left by scrolling down - has been checked.  You may also see the age verification box, as above, at this point.) 
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