Sunday 31 December 2023

New Year's Eve: 31/12/2023

Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot

New Year's Eve is a time to remember absent friends. 
My little warm brown friend, mr Harris of Lanarkshire, passed away mid July this year. He had been my constant, loyal companion for many years and I would like to raise a glass to the dear boy, wherever his spirit may be. When mr ishmael passed away, I became oppressed by the anxiety that I might pre-decease Harris, and that he would have to find a new home. A friend offered to adopt him in that eventuality. Now, Harris was a chap with decided tastes who had been spoilt rotten by mr ishmael and I, so I thought it best to write out some guidance for his future person. A sort of Haynes manual. Here it is.

 Harris Manual

1.    Harris usually eats 3 or 4 square meals a day – those square-shaped Caesar trays of luxury dog food. He prefers the Pâté, cut up into cubes. He doesn’t like to get his face dirty by being required to root around in his food. He likes his cubed pâté on a flat plate, with no sudden noises whilst he is dining.
2.    Harris has a sensitive stomach - don’t let him eat sheep poo, of which he is very fond. When he manages to sneak some if your attention is momentarily distracted, he then needs to go on a  chicken and boiled sticky rice diet. He then graduates to Lily’s dog food.
3.    Treats – he does not like denta stix or grain based biscuits. He likes little dog sausages, meat strips, fake bacon curls, oven dried strips of liver, and crispy salmon skin. (wild, not farmed).
4.    He likes a big drink of water at 9:30 pm, give or take 10 minutes, because he hasn’t got a watch.

1.   Harris has a pronounced dairy allergy and should not be given cheese, butter, milk or yoghurt. It causes diarrhoea with heavy bleeding, so please avoid.
2.   He is allergic to grass pollen so should be kept out of long grass in the summer. It gives him a very itchy skin.
3.   Growths. I don’t know if these are allergic in origin, but Yorkshire Terriers are prone to them. They are little growths on his skin. He’s had a couple removed by surgery, but has subsequently grown more. They are not malignant. They might be mistaken for an attached tick, but don’t try to remove them, as it would be very painful for the little chap and he would bleed profusely. They can get crusty, inflamed and infected, so then it is a trip to the vet.
Harris likes to run and he is as fast as anything, but only let him run free in the garden because he is very wilful and will run off. If you chase after him, calling Harris! he thinks it is very funny and that you are playing a chase game with him, and will then run even faster. When out and about, best keep him on a lead. If he does escape, the best thing to do is to call loudly and decisively, Harris, stay. He will ignore it, but might hesitate momentarily. Lying down in the grass sometimes works, as he may come back to check if you have passed out, then you can grab him before he dances off.
Harris knows several words, although he often pretends he doesn’t. The words should be in a clear, commanding voice. He knows the following:
1.    Harris want a treat
2.    Sit (not very good at that)
3.    Stay - and variations – stay in the car, stay in your bed, stay in the house. (this is not popular)
4.    Walk (this is popular)
5.    Come
6.    Ball, hand, fetch
7.    Toy
8.    Bed
9.    Bedtime
10. Go to sleep
11. Be quick ( when going for a pee)
12. This is your dinner and you can eat it (when you put his dinner down, he usually looks to you for permission to eat it.)
13. Harris want to go out?
14. There’s probably a lot more words, as he’s very intelligent. He knows that I am mum, so you could call yourself that, and mr ishmael  was dad or mister  - so that would be good for any new significant male in his life.
Harris tries to talk, which is hilarious, because he hasn’t got the right sort of vocal equipment for words. He tries to do this when he wants to tell you something, or get you to do something, so you have to check out what he wants. If you say, Harris want to go out? he will run to the door. Most of the time he will just come up to you and gaze at you, impressing his wishes upon you telepathically. This might be wanting to go out, or telling you he’s had a pee or a poo in the corner and it’s all your fault for not letting him out, or it’s eating time or playtime.
Harris likes to have a bed in the major rooms where people are sitting or working, and he has a fabric covered crate to go into for peace and quiet, but he is accustomed to sleep during the night with people. In the bed. He takes up a lot of room for a Yorkshire Terrier.
Harris has several tops and a big hi-vis raincoat. If the weather is cold, he needs to wear his clothes outside, as his own fur coat is quite thin. If the house is cold in winter or at night, he has a  tee-shirt to wear.
He has had some extractions, and a dental chart is with his papers. He doesn’t mind having his teeth cleaned, but he just chews the toothbrush and eats the toothpaste, so it is a bit of a waste of time.  He does have his own toothbrush and toothpaste.
The only people Harris tries to bite are vets, so it is best to tell the vet to put a muzzle on him during examinations/treatments.
editor verge stumbled across a comment by mr ishmael, on a Youtube video of Dylan's Pledging My Time Indiana: 
God, his band must have all the patience in the world, or he must pay them a great deal. My dog, Harris, could scratch a better tune than this from a Strat, and he's only a bit musical. It used to be said that people would pay good money for a tape of Bob's kettle boiling. Five of them must be here. Pledgin my time . was an all -time great blues recording, this is Alzheimer's dribbling music.
If you are interested in following it up and determining if you agree with mr ishmael's judgement, here you go:
For others of a more traditional musical cast of mind, here's some lugubrious New Year's Eve music:
Anyway, ishmaelites, goodbye to all that and welcome to the new year. More of the same, I daresay.

Tuesday 26 December 2023

Boxing Day: 26/12/2023


No, not that sort of Boxing. The name refers to the long, long ago  practice of giving presents (boxes) to poor people on the day after Christmas. Nowadays, Boxing Day marks the start of the Sale Season, to hoover up any last bits of money you may have about your person after the December-long SpendFest.
In case you are tempted to visit the Do It Yourself emporia in pursuit of discounted paint to improve your lives, mr ishmael had some cautionary thoughts.

Me and the Dream Warehouse


A Swiss Army Knife Story by the younger Ishmael Smith

There’s this place in Durritch. A Do It Yourself Megamarket. Bamfords. There’s acres of it. And they sell everything you could ever want in the do-it-, grow-it-, erect-it- and plumb-it-in-yourself line. Everything except Swiss Army Knives. The ultimate Do-It-Yourself implement and you can’t get one in Bamfords. I suppose, realistically, that a Swiss Army Knife stand in a D-I-Y store’d be as welcome as the pox in a nunnery.

Twelve months ago Bamfords wasn’t there, there was just a sign saying Bamfords Is Coming Here Soon. Now you’re lucky if you can find a space in the carpark. Doesn’t matter what time of day you go at, they’re open from eight ‘til eight and the place is always heaving. Where did everybody go before?

Maybe, before Bamfords, Durritch was just one great big pigsty. You know how Billy Connolly goes on about the poor foreigners just hanging around for centuries waiting for someone to come and discover them? Well, maybe Durritch was like that. Everybody just gazing dolefully at their peeling wallpaper and fading paint, hoping that the wiring wouldn’t catch fire and that the window frames wouldn’t fall out; and everybody hoarse from speaking unnaturally loud so they could be heard over the dripping taps and the wheezing cisterns; and stumbling down their cracked and overgrown paths wishing like hell that there was somewhere they could buy some cement and weedkiller and maybe a gazebo or a pool to brighten the place up a bit. Well they’ve got it now and they’re lapping it up.

People, employed people, nearly always couples, hire Transit vans to go to Bamfords. It’s like Aladdin’s cave. They come away with greenhouses, bathroom suites, fences, paths, pools, emulsion, gloss, varnish, chipboard, screws, nails, hammers, barbecues, miniature conifers and sacks of Somerset peat. One day I’m going to drive down to Somerset just to see if it’s still there; seems to me that Bamfords are selling most of it off to the citizens of Durritch.

The people who come by car all seem to drive fairly old motors, S to X registration mainly, so they can’t be really well-off. Enough credit with Access to buy a bathroom suite, and drive themselves crazy installing it, but not enough for a D or an E reg motor. They just want to have a house which pretends that they’re rich. Proper rich people don’t need to improve their homes, they’re generally OK; and if they did need to decorate they’d get some little man in to do it for them. So you have all these crazy home owners, up to their nuts in debt, loading their old bangers up with junk and going off home to live in a dream world. It’s pathetic, really; they’re like junkies; it’s like they all want to be Ben Cartwright, presiding over their own little suburban Ponderosas. And they all want a slice of the dreamcake you’re really buying from Bamfords under the sparkle and glass and smartness and glow; that strangely-familiar dream, balanced shrewdly between our yearning for oldworld craftsmanship, our thirst for new technology and our envy of other cultures.

The trouble is that, like AIDS, the home-improvement thing is catching if you’re not careful. It’s been murder since the kids found out about Bamfords. We have to make a family pilgrimage almost every week. The two girls head straight for the dream kitchens, opening and closing all the perfectly-aligned unit doors (why do they never align perfectly when you get them into your own house?), messing about with the microwaves, trying to flush the dummy toilets, turning on the unconnected taps and looking at me like I was Paul Getty. Mark zooms in on the battery-operated power tools. Look, Mummy, it’s only sixty pounds, he’ll say, clutching Black and Decker’s latest electronic gizmo. And all my friends’ parents have one. He says this looking disdainfully at me as if to say all his friends’ mothers aren’t shacked up with unemployed, diabetic, hippy writers. Little bastard.

Helen, by this time, has beaten a strategic, marxist retreat and is regrouping in the garden section. Isn’t this pergola heavenly, she’ll say. What the hell’s a pergola? She points at some wooden structure that resembles a mediaeval gallows; a rough-hewn, timber-post frame. Whaddawewant with one of those? We could sit under it. We could do what? In the garden…. We could sit under it. But it’s got no roof. And it’s got no walls. And it’s full of splinters. Why do we want to sit in one of those? We’ve got a house haven’t we, for sitting in? Whassamatterwith you? I’m gonna stop getting The Observer if this is what it does to you. But we could grow things over it. Grow things over it? Whassamatter with the garden, for Christ’s sake, the flower beds, why don’t we grow things in there, like real people, or in the allotment, or in some tubs? And so it goes on. Helen wanting a lumber yard full of bijou, creosoted, rough timber eyesores and fountains gushing from concrete, infant penises; the girls wanting a teak kitchen and a Jacuzzi – we got a bidet what more do they want? And Mark wanting a veritable arsenal of deadly but otherwise unnecessary power tools. When you’re unemployed going to somewhere like Bamfords is the act of a masochist.

But, like most things, it’s also quite educational. One day I asked a cashier how many different items they carried. Dunno. A lot, I think. Is there anyone who does know? Well, Customer Service might help you. I went over to Customer Service. Excuse me, can you tell me how many different items you carry, please? Oh, about fifteen thousand. Is that all? Does that include all the nails and screws and pins and staples and bolts and nuts and washers; there are literally thousands of them, look, just down that aisle, copper ones, brass ones, iron ones, steel ones, round heads, flatheads, countersunk heads, masonry nails; hundreds of different sizes, different threads…. Well, she says, since you put it like that, it probably is more. What about the seeds, look, down there, there’s thousands of them. And what about the shrubs and plants and bushes and trees. And the wallpapers, look, hundreds upon hundreds of them. And the lightfittings, there’s a whole floor of them; chandeliers, coachlamps, reading lights, spotlights, standard lamps, outdoor lights, underwater lights, bulbs, plugs, flex, insulating tape. And the tools. And the paints and the varnishes and the shelving systems and the timber and the little concrete boys and the gnomes and the fertilisers and the Tomorite and the slug pellets and the netting and the bamboo. And the bricks and the cement and the slabs. And all the plumbing stuff, the pipes and the joints and the hoses. And all the curtains and the fixtures and fittings. And the glass and the putty. And the lawnmowers and strimmers and hot-air paintstrippers. And the fences and the chains and the burglar alarms and the electric kettles and the percolators. And the baths and the toilets and the kitchen units. Gotta be more than fifteen thousand wouldn’t you say?

Well, yes, she says. Is there anybody here who does know for sure? You see I want to write a story about this place and it’d help if I knew exactly how many items you carry. Well, the manager would know. Could I possible see him? Well, you could, only he’s off sick. I’m not surprised.

My friend Felix has a theory about these Do It Yourself emporia. I think he developed it while he was at Cambridge, so it might be a bit suspect. He says that one day Bamfords will sell the ultimate dream product. But only to regular, direct debit customers. There’ll be a green one. You’ll paint it all over the outside of your ultimately-improved home and it’ll never, ever be vandalised or burglarised. And it’ll never catch fire. It’ll keep out all the unemployed people. And all the sick people and the old and the poor. All the people who don’t have a home to improve.

And then there’ll be a black paint. You’ll paint that all over the inside, even over the double-glazed windows and the Carolina doors and the Laura Ashley wallpapers. And, as long as you stay inside, you’ll never ever die. Now, there’s a dream home for you. That’s what the dreams are all about. Home improvement, build your own mausoleum and live in it.

Meantime, as my friend Bob Dylan said, life outside goes on all around you. We had the General Election recently. We live in a safe spanking seat here – they still thrash the kids in school, they’re going to keep right on doing it up until the very second that it becomes illegal – but we thought we’d try to do a bit to discommode the New Right. We went out on the Thursday calling on Labour sympathisers and reminding them to vote. They all had. People seemed desperate to be rid of that awful woman. That’s why we were out. We were desperate, too. Not for Kinnock’s sanitised and undemocratic Labour Party particularly; and certainly not for Tweedledum and Tweedledee, as was. We just wanted a change.

At midnight we took Mark down to the Town Hall to see the democratic process get itself a little leaned on. I said he could have the next day off school, this was more educational than any of the nonsense he’d hear from his teachers. The rest is pundit history; overtime payments for Day, a gold-plated Mars Bar for Dimbleby, a good long rest for Peter Snow and speech therapy for Alistair Burnett. Our spanker was returned with an increased majority and Mark saw the braying, hatchet-faced, Tory women and the arrogant, conceited, drunken Tory men celebrating another five years of national home improvement. Thankfully Mark has the vote next time around; if he can get time off from his YTS.

Mrs Thatcher owes it all to Bamfords and Smiths and B&Q and all the other plastic money dream warehouses. When people spend every penny and every spare second on customising their tatty little homes, on papering over the cracks in their brittle little family lives, they’re not going to want politicians telling them to think about people with no homes, no families, no lives to speak of. That’s exactly what we’re trying to shut out or we might as well invite the Russians in, having them stomping over our thick-pile carpets and burnished pine floors in their dirty boots, sticking pictures of Lenin up over the Laura Ashley. We’re just too busy – look, it’s 7:15, just time to go down to Bamfords and pick up your Georgian-look polystyrene cornice moulding and a Dickensian plastic door-lantern, here’s value at £24.95 – and we’ll keep on keeping too busy to listen to the people knocking at our teak-finish plywood ready- warped doors…until they come knocking at our double-glazed windows with petrol bombs.

There was this poet. Byron or Shelley I think. It was one of those poets who wrote odes to places he’d seen on his Grand Tour of Europe; you know the kind of stuff, bits of gay, Greek mythology jumbled-up among a rhyming tourists guide to the Aegean. Whichever it was, anyway, he wrote a home improvement poem. It has the words: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair. These words were on the plinth of a statue of a long-dead Emperor. All that was left of the statue were the legs. Just a pair of legs standing in the middle of the desert. This Ozymandias, one imagines, was the great granddaddy of do-it-yourselfers. He had wanted future generations of Bamfords shoppers to gaze in wonder at his plumbing and shelving and wallpapering. But his entire Empire-sized home-improvement, had, with the passage of time, crumbled to dust.

You can’t buy poetry in Bamfords. Not even for cash.

Monday 25 December 2023

The Real Meaning of Christmas: 25/12/2023


Nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago, of course - it was convenient in the roll-out of  Christianity to the northern lands to adopt the existing winter festivals and rename them. Our secular nation has almost entirely reverted to the true meaning of Christmas - revelry, feasting, firelight and sex. 
Mr ishmael was a spiritual man, and here he is musing on religion. 

Me and God


A Swiss Army Knife Story by the younger Ishmael Smith

I read a novel once. It wasn’t so much a novel; it was more an encyclopaedia of philosophy, past, present and future. The author of this book must have read everything there was to read on the subjects of man, God and existence. No, it wasn’t the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, nor the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. It was an intellectual juggernaut of a book. It rolled all over me and I can feel its tyre tracks yet. It was also a very moving book for it described man’s search for meaning and how he was unable to find anything in the existing philosophies. Not just some of them, all of them, he took them all to pieces like some sort of metaphysical watchmaker and found a flaw, an imbalance, in every last one of them. So, quite properly to my mind, he invented his own. He called it the Church of Reason. He tried preaching it in the University where he taught. But, sure enough, he wound up, very quickly, in the loony bin with electrodes in his head, needles in his bum and one of those nice back-to-front jackets.
Now, as we all know, there are worse places to be than the loony bin. You could be in school, for instance. You could be in Redditch, like me. Or you could be working on a Community Programme, overseen by yesterday’s yes men, failed captains of industry, supplementing their company pensions by telling you how noble it is of you to be shovelling community shit or shuffling community papers for seventy pence an hour. You could even be working in a probation office chastising poor people for their poverty. (You only ever see poor people, misfits and child molesters in a probation office. No self-respecting thief or bank robber would be caught dead talking to a probation officer.) No, give me the loony bin any time. You meet a better class of person. You get much more sense from somebody who thinks he’s Napoleon than you do from the average Senior Probation Officer. But, even so, I thought it was a bit strong to be getting the liquid cosh and the electric personality annihilation so beloved of psychiatrists simply because he had a different point of view on the meaning of life and God and everything. So, ever since I read the improbably-titled Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance I have tended to keep God himself firmly at several arms’ length.
In fact, if God were to appear by my desk this morning I’d be out the back door and over the fence quicker than a thunderbolt. It seems to me that everybody who has anything to do with the Almighty finds themselves in big trouble. Did you ever read about the Monsignor from Knock? There was this Priest in an otherwise God-forsaken Irish village situated in a bog at the top of a mountain in County Mayo. Whether it was the local poteen, a leprous distillation concocted from potatoes and known to strike unseasoned imbibers permanently blind, or whether it was an actual miracle is a matter for speculation. What is known, however, is that the inhabitants of Knock started reporting that the local statue of the Virgin was doing everything short of coming down off the plinth and breakdancing. Tears, nods, gestures; everything. The good Monsignor started hearing the sound of heavenly cash registers and, quicker than you can say “Holy water, pound a bottle”, he’s off to Dublin. Monsignor James Horan, once there, persuaded the Government that they had to build an International Airport on the top of his mountain. This was in Ireland, don’t forget, so the Airport was duly constructed, but, sadly for the Monsignor, the citizens of Knock and the Irish Exchequer, the anticipated jumbo-loads of camera-swinging, dollar and yen laden tourists failed to materialise. So, perhaps peeved, perhaps dispirited, but certainly with the impoverished Irish Government breathing down his neck the Monsignor set off for that other shrine, Lourdes. Maybe he went for inspiration, or perhaps, more cynically, he went to check out the competition. Whatever, when he arrived at Lourdes, a place of pilgrims and miraculous healings, he promptly and permanently dropped down dead. It wasn’t a miracle. There was no resurrection. He was seriously dead; Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s door. He was as lifeless as it’s possible to be outside of school, Redditch, the Community Programme and the probation service.
Now I can’t help but feel that the untimely demise of the previously healthy and relatively young Monsignor was something in the nature of a Sign. So, if God can do that to someone who works all the hours He sends on His behalf, then I’d just as soon have nothing to do with Him, thank you very much. I have enough trouble with the Access people chasing me all over the country without having to be looking over my shoulder for the fiery finger. I don’t want anyone appearing to me in a dream and telling me to go and slit my kid’s throat. I don’t want anyone to smite my enemies for me; I’d just as soon take ‘em to Court. And the last thing I want is Eternal Life. Seventy years of this’ll do me fine. Don’t misunderstand me. I have nothing against Christians. Some of my best friends are Christians. This whole God business is like homosexuality. It’s ok by me. I just don’t want it made compulsory.
God, unfortunately, does not confine His attentions to mere Christianity. Wherever there are people to be frightened, blackmailed or otherwise coerced from their wits you will find the Almighty and His Ambassadors. You would think that with the whole of creation to mess about in and all of eternity to do it in that He’d leave us alone for a millennium or two. But no. God, like some aging whore, is happiest when people are fighting over Him. It used to be the Christians torturing and roasting one another in the name of God. Then, once they’d invented chastity belts, they bankrupted Europe and went off on their mad Crusades. What they didn’t realise was that the Wily Turk was every bit as fanatical as them and that when it came to a spot of religious bloodletting the Saracen would have their heads on a minaret quicker than they’d have his outside a pub. So, suitably chastened, they came home to start back in on each other again with the thumbscrews and the hot lead enemas. Then, God be praised, they found the New World, joined forces and went out to torture the savages into accepting the one true Faith. They succeeded, of course, there’s nothing like a hot, crisp roasting at the stake, or, better still, a good massacre, to bring heathen peoples to the Lord.
After that, things went a bit quiet on the Christian Front. Oh, there’s still a few thousand in Northern Ireland ready to kill and maim on the Lord’s behalf and I suppose there’ll always be missionary types wanting to go off into isolated parts and corrupt a timeless culture with all that heaven and hell stuff, but, in the main, God seems to have stood his Christian forces down. No such luck with the Muslims. They’re at it everywhere, in Afghanistan they’re fighting each other and the Russians; in Iraq and Iran they’re just plain old-fashioned fighting each other and everybody else. And every last one of them wants to gang up on the Jews. The Jews, themselves, will shoot anybody who looks at 'em the wrong way. In India you’ve got the Sikhs fighting the Hindus. They don’t mind getting killed because they all believe that they’ll go straight to the bosom of Allah, Jehovah, Vishnu or whatever alias God’s been using with them, there to sup milk and honey, goat meat curries or whatever God’s got on the menu for them.
Perhaps you can see why I take a dim view of God and his activities. Some people will argue that God’s ok really. It’s just that man doesn’t understand his purpose and that up there, in one of his many mansions, God’s really pissed off about famine and war and AIDS. And that God really cares. Those kind of people will, given a chance, grab the nearest New Testament and start giving you all that “not the slightest sparrow” stuff and inviting you to services and telling you they’re gonna pray for you. I know because this happened to me quite recently. It was the Day the Jovas Came.
I knew they were in the area because the kids had, in the cruel fashion of children, been joking about them. Mark and his mate, Andy, had been knocking on the door saying, “Morning brother, we’re the Jovas, we’re here to save you.” And scoffing generally at the idea of Christianity. Now, I’m a liberal sort of fellow most of the time, except when it comes to Harry Secombe, and I figured that anybody who received such a consistently bad press as the Jehovah’s Witnesses couldn’t be all that bad. Like anybody else I’d heard all that stuff about them letting their kids die for lack of blood transfusions and how once you let them in they start hitting you over the head with the Bible telling you to repent. And about how they provoke you into saying something fairly unchristian to get rid of 'em. But then I knew, also, that the statespersons of this world and their Admirals and Generals weren’t too fussy about who they bombed and napalmed; men, women, children – doesn’t matter just as long as they’re communists or enemies of democracy. So, no matter what I say about God Himself, I wasn’t going to prejudge the Jovas just because they don’t hold with technology and tend to ramble on a bit. And anyway, it gets lonely sitting here at the word processor. If they’d taken the trouble to come and tell me about heaven it’d make a change from double glazing and loft insulation salesmen telling me how I couldn’t afford to be without their wares. When they came there were two of them. One white and one black woman. They both had nervous smiles.
Good Morning. We left some literature. Before. With your wife. We were wondering if you’d had time to read it.
Well, no. I don’t believe I did. You wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff that comes through the letter box. What was it about?
Well, it was about the state of the world. All the divorce and everything….
Yes, said the other one, and we were wondering if you’d been able to find the Lord.
Find the Lord? Well, actually I’ve spent the last hour trying to find my Swiss Army Knife and it’s nowhere to be seen.
They started to laugh a bit, then stopped themselves.
But surely you can’t compare your whatever it was knife with the Creator of heaven and earth…?
Well, no, not exactly, it’s just that I’ve gotta change this plug and I don’t reckon I’m gonna do it by praying at it. You know, right now the most important thing in the world to me is finding my Swiss Army Knife. You know, if you had one yourself and come to depend on it like I have you’d know what I mean. 'Slike if you all of a sudden lost your clothes then getting them back’d be uppermost in your mind and you’d leave the spiritual stuff 'til later. I’m not being blasphemous or anything. It’s kinda render unto Caesar. You ever seen one? They’re really good. They’re red, about this big and they’ve got all sorts of clever little tools in them. Mine’s got a wirestripper and a couple a blades and a corkscrew and a bottle opener and a couple of screwdrivers and some other things that I don’t understand. It’s like a miniature tool kit. And strong. Got the Swiss flag on it.
Oh yeah, says the black girl, my husband has one. His has scissors on it. I know the thing you mean.
Yeah, that’ll be the Officer’s model. I don’t know why but the officers in the Swiss Army seem to get knives with hundreds of blades and things. Magnifying glasses. Pliers. Everything. And the troops just get a little knife like mine that can do maybe a dozen or so things. I wouldn’t fight in an army like that, would you?
Well actually I don’t believe in armies…
No of course not. Me neither. I don’t think they do, come to that, no need for them to go off fighting, not when they’ve got everybody’s money. Look, why don’t you come in and help me look for my knife. You know, have a coffee or something.
They were in like a shot, faster than Moses crossing the Red Sea and when they saw my desk their eyes lit up. Among the row of books there are several bibles.
Oh, you read the Scriptures then, the one said.
Yeah, all of them. Look there’s a Koran here. Some Islamic stuff – The Prophet, the Way of the Sufi, it’s really good, you ever read it? There’s the I Ching, a book on religions of the world, the Sayings of Confucius, and the Bible. Yeah, I read them all. Some of the time, not all of the time. Sugar?
They looked at one another as though they’d fell amongst thieves and there wasn’t a Samaritan in sight.
What do you think about homosexuals…all this AIDS business?
As one, they replied:
It’s an abomination
You see what I mean? None of this greatest of these is charity nonsense for them. None of this cast not the first stone. I already told you some of my friends are Christian; well, some of them are gay. Some of them are both. And here’s these people. In my house, drinking my coffee, reading my bibles.
Saying that my friends are abominable.

Merry Christmas, Ishmaelites everywhere

Friday 22 December 2023

Mr Mongoose's Christmas Crossword


1 & 29      a Yuletide exercise for cruciverbalists. (9,9)
  6       Non-kosher fare acting for 9 slaughterers. (5)
  9       Biblical native shattered realities. (9)
10       Lows european elk. (5)
11       Iron, carbon and aluminium produce such matter. (5)
12       Cut out attractiveness for speed command. (9)
13       This Knight had pips. (6)
14        Magical beasts damaged feet at College. (8)
17        Hung maps sort of moss (8)
19        Almost "touching" the untouched. (6)
22        Tyrant built from this fuel minus oils. (9)
24        Ground a lust in American city. (5)
26        Pick-me-up acting in a moment. (5)
27        Bundling you might see at the Oval. (4,5)
28        100 ergs/gram input - output receiver. (5)
29        See 1a


 1        A bachelor boy until his dying days. (5)
 2        Undeveloped construction said the psychiatrist. (9)
 3        French girl concealed by coy romantic. (7)
 4        Servant covering setter got hurt. (6)
 5        Inanimate. Like a traffic Policeman. (8)
 6        Magnificent pigeon in charge. (7)
 7      Mother or yours truly came originally from the 
south island. (5)
 8        I heard Redgrave and his lad had a rocket. (9)
13       Oval landmark ground megastore. (9)
15       Musical hunchback. (9)
16       One catsuit developed a disordered spectrum. (8)
18       A club for Marx. (7)
20       Narrow. Strip first and dip without hesitation. (7)
21       Racing body over country embarrassment. (6)
23       Wickedness overdose transmission for the bishops' gig. (5)
25       In this old-fashioned day and age revolutionary pined. (5)

Tip - print out the page and complete the grid by hand.

Thursday 21 December 2023

Well, that's another year up the Judge's Arse.

Solstice comes from a Latin word which translates as “sun stands still”. The winter solstice in this year of Grace, 2023, the moment when the Earth's axis is furthest from the sun will occur around 03.27 GMT on December 22nd. As the Lifers say, "that's another year up the Judge's Arse."
It is the longest night of the year. People used to encourage the sun to return by lighting fires - 
the Yule log, feasting and drinking (feasting and drinking seem to be central to all early religious celebrations). However, here in Orkney, it has been blowing a gale for weeks, probably months and possibly years. So I don't think there'll be any pagans dancing round the Ring of Brodgar or the Stones of Stennes this year. Most unlikely that the setting sun will light up the Maeshowe chambered tomb
as it's been sleeting, hailing or snowing for days, probably weeks and 
possibly months.
All the more important to encourage the sun back again. Maybe light a candle against the dark?

mr ishmael:  ......
There was a point in living memory, maybe before the Labour Party got it's Equity card, when the changing seasons still retained some power over us, when they were marked and celebrated; hints of the pagan, of riotous, Jesus-free sexuality, of the elemental; Maydays and Solstices, Harvest Homes; ancient, starborne, prehistoric survival rituals - which had been colonised, hi-jacked by Pope Nazi's predecessors, parceled-up with Feast Days, Saints' Days and Guilty Days - marked periodic awarenesses of the cyclicality of creation, of death and renewal, or of, as the Noncing Monsignors would have it, the craft of the Divine Watchmaker; you know, He who's gonna forever roast your arse if you don't do as we, His kindly minders, say. Dominus vobiscum.

These Stone-Age festivals, these seasonal forebodings, joys and obeisances formed a truly British, truly European - or Northern White - culture, long before John Bull and immeasurably more valid, more connected than the morbid, touchstone, tribal posturings of the SNP, the BNP, Plaid Cymru, Ulster's pestilential Kneecappers and sour-faced, joyless Orange undertakers, all rooted not in Earth, Water, Fire and Air but in hangings, arson, rape, torture, mayhem and martyrdom, Christian Age alpha male shit.
As the Green Man carved surreptitiously by apostate joiners in ostensibly Christian Saxon and Norman Churches hung-on, in hiding, these pagan seasonal customs clung, too, Bowdlerised and adapted, the Furry Dance, the joyful Mayday cock-worship, a clandestine, Earth-worshipping Resistance movement; the ringed stones of Wiltshire and Gloucester and Orkney attracting all sorts, freaks and Wiccans and libertines but many more just vaguely aware of bigger, eternal patterns, of a pre-programmed, stellar air-conditioner, whirring through Time, ventilating Life.

For the longest time, perhaps until the gaudy arriviste iconoclasm of Thatcher's brigandage, we - maybe unknowingly - heard the old prayers and feared the old gods. 

Sunday 17 December 2023

The Sunday Ishmael: 17/12/2023

You'd think, with all his money, that chubby hubby, Doug TummyBellyBarrowman could afford to buy a shirt and jacket combination to cover his straining hairy paunch. But maybe the infamous "advisers" alluded to by Baroness Moan in the Laura Kuenssberg Show this morning suggested he appear on telly looking fat and poor all the better to personify  the couple's chosen victim identity. Those "advisers" presumably were the same ones that instructed the Baroness to lie through her teeth about not having any  personal advantage  from the two massively generous PPE contracts awarded by the government in 2020 - the first contract valued at £80.85 million for the supply of  210 million facemasks, the second  valued at £122 million  for the supply of 25 million surgical gowns. Both contracts were awarded without competitive tenders under the Covid-19 emergency regulations that waived normal requirements. The Baroness told Laura that she phoned Michael Gove and said she could help out. Matt Hancock, au contraire, Minister for Health at the time, described her lobbying as being extraordinarily aggressive and threatening. Despite repeated, emphatic, consistent  and determined denials through their lawyers, turns out that the beneficiary of these contracts, PPE Medpro Ltd., is a company close to the heart and wallet of Chubby Hubby TummyBellyBorrowman. Last month, a representative acting for Barrowman confirmed that half the money required upfront was "provided by the Family Office of Doug Barrowman", part of the Knox firm ultimately controlled by Barrowman which manages his private wealth. The representative also said that Barrowman "was the chairman and leader of the PPE Medpro consortium that supplied the UK government”. And £60 million is the profit that is sitting in the coffers of the Knox Firm - at least, until the Government enquiry and police investigations have concluded and the Covid profiteers have had their unholy profits (or returns on a high risk investment, as Chubby Hubby put it) sequestered by the State.
They can't have done themselves any favours, Mr. and Mrs. Mone- Barrowman, with their stage-managed interview with Laura. Despite their determination to present themselves as innocent victims of something or other,  inadvertent glimpses  into their tortuously complicated financial arrangements were revealed. "It's not my money, its his. If he divorced me or died, I wouldn't have any money, because its his." 
"No, there's no yacht. What Yacht?"  

The one you posted a picture of yourself aboard - the Lady M, For Fuck's Sake.
The Baroness, a creature of Baron Call Me Dave, has form for mendaciousness and dodgy practice. Basically a pushy Weegie, a 15 year old school leaver with no qualifications, Mone, by her own admission, invented qualifications to secure a marketing job with the Labatt brewing company. She was subsequently made redundant. Mone's company, MJM International paid a substantial sum of money into a controversial tax avoidance scheme, criticised by then- Chancellor George Osborne as "morally repugnant". It had to be bad for Bukkake George to find it repugnant. Mone said she had "not done anything wrong" in relation to tax avoidance and that her ex-husband had "dealt with all the finance". Seems both her husbands are a bit nifty with the cash.
What else? Oh, yes,  in 2006 MJM entered the weight loss market, with Mone promoting a weight loss pill called Trim Secrets,  falsely claiming the  product had been proven in clinical trials. However, when questioned further, she said that approximately 60 users had completed a questionnaire but she was unable to produce the results. A spokesman for the British Dietetic Association said "there is no scientific basis or rationale for these products, they are making claims which are unfounded and feeding into public confusion." Could try giving ChubbyHubby the Trim pills.

Anything else? 
  • An  incomplete £250 million residential development in Dubai, 
  • a bitcoin disaster, 
  • milking her baronetcy for publicity purposes whilst hardly ever showing up in the Lords - By early 2022, Mone had made only five speeches in the House of Lords and asked 22 written questions. In December 2022, her spokesperson said she was taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords with immediate effect "in order to clear her name of the allegations  that have been unjustly levelled against her". She had not spoken in a debate since March 2020 and had last voted in April 2022.
Then there's the Employment Tribunals:
  • Hugh McGinley settled out of court with MJM after making a claim of constructive dismissal. He told a tribunal hearing in 2014: “If staff got on the wrong side of Michelle Mone, their lives would be made hell.”
  • Scott Kilday, operations director at MJM International, had his office bugged and Mone  listened to the tapes for signs of disloyalty. He won his case for unfair dismissal in 2014 and was awarded £15,920 in compensation.  Employment judge Shona MacLean said: “The fact a recording device was placed in his office was, in the tribunal’s view, conduct likely to destroy or seriously damage the degree of trust and confidence an employee is entitled to have in his employer.”

  • In 2006, Claire Woods was awarded £10,680 in compensation for discrimination against her  on the basis of her pregnancy. 

  • Mone's  former office manager Mark Ali lodged his claim with the Employment Tribunal alleging  bullying , harassment, sexual discrimination and failure to pay wages.
But what about the 25 million surgical gowns? Not fit for purpose. Never been worn. Stored away on rather a lot of shelves somewhere.
Just can't fault Baron Call Me Dave's ability to pick a wrong 'un.
What could he have seen in her?

Malapropism Contest

Nobody had a go at this contest, which is a big disappointment, cos I think they are funny. They are both the inadvertent invention of mr ishmael's dyslexic assistant, who was keen on well-known phrases or sayings to add colour to his every-day speech, but inevitably got them tangled up. They entered the lexicography of our family and I've almost forgotten the correct phrases. Anyway,  here are the answers:
It's back to Square Peg One. This is a neat amalgamation of square peg in a round hole and back to square one. The meaning of being a square peg in a round hole is that of person whose character makes them unsuitable for the job or other position they are in: however, those familiar with pegged furniture know that a square peg in a round hole usually secures a snug fit, as the peg, or wedge, well-soaked prior to insertion by way of a mallet, will, on drying out, hold things together in a most satisfactory way. Meanings often shift in this way. Take "bodger" for example - these days a bodger is  someone who makes a mess of things, whereas a bodger used to be a skilled craftsperson who made chair legs. "Sophisticated" now means "having, revealing, or involving a great deal of worldly experience and knowledge of fashion and culture:"
It used to mean a sly liar - like sophistry

It takes a Cat to Scratch a Mackerel.
This one is sheer delight - the correct phrase is: it takes a sprat to catch a mackerel, the meaning being that you have to sacrifice a little fish to catch a big fish.

Cry God for England, Harry and St. George!

In other matters, turns out Harry was right and Mirror Group Newspapers are a bad lot. He's been awarded £140,600 in damages  after the judgement ruled that several articles were the product of hacking or unlawful information gathering. 
His lawyer read out his triumphant statement, announcing that it was a Great Day For Truth. Careful, Harry - it rather puts one in mind of Jonathon Aitken's sword of truth; and it really didn't end well for him:
"If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play, so be it. I am ready for the fight. The fight [is] against falsehood and those who peddle it. My fight begins today. Thank you and good afternoon."
This is why Aitken took up his trusty sword - on 10 April 1995, The Guardian carried a front-page report on Aitken's dealings with leading Saudis. The story was the result of a long investigation carried out by journalists from the newspaper and from Granada Television's World in Action programme. The Guardian also alleged Aitken, when Minister for Defence Procurement, procured prostitutes for Arab businessmen. Granada's World in Action programme repeated the accusation in a television documentary called Jonathan of Arabia.  Aitken  called a press conference at the Conservative Party offices in London, at 5 p.m. that same day denouncing the claims and demanding that the World in Action documentary, which was due to be screened three hours later, withdraw them. 
 The documentary was transmitted and Aitken sued. The case collapsed in June 1997 (a month after he had lost his seat in the 1997 general election) when The Guardian and Granada produced, via their counsel George Carman QC, evidence countering his claim that his wife, Lolicia Aitken, paid for the hotel stay at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. The evidence consisted of airline vouchers and other documents showing that his wife had, in fact, been in Switzerland at the time when she had allegedly been at the Ritz in Paris. The joint Guardian/Granada investigation indicated an arms deal scam involving Aitken's friend and business partner, the Lebanese businessman Mohammed Said Ayas, a close associate of Prince Mohammed of Saudi Arabia. It was alleged that Aitken had been prepared to have his teenage daughter Victoria lie under oath to support his version of events, had the case continued. Aitken was charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice and, after pleading guilty on 8 June 1999 to both offences, was sentenced to jail for 18 months of which he served almost seven months. 
You've just got to be careful when you take to the law. Here's mr ishmael on the notorious Aitken, in an essay from the latest anthology curated by editor mr verge, Flush Test.

Jonathan Aitken, the disgraced former Tory cabinet minister who was jailed for perjury, will be rehabilitated into the political frontline tomorrow when he takes charge of a task force on prison reform that will help formulate Conservative policy. the Guardian, Nov 11, 2007 

You don’t imagine, do you, that Aitken knows anything about the real hardship faced by ordinary people who land on the Go To Jail square, who lose their homes and families, come out without a pot to piss in? This is just a way back into the corridors of power and greed. Do you really think that Aitken’s self-publicity about writing letters for cons qualifies him to pronounce on penal reform? (None of them, you know, can write, or tie up their shoe-laces without some bent, corrupt-in-the-blood toff like Aitken extending the hand of phony christian charity, miserable fucking self-aggrandising Godless heathen bastard.) Some poor bastard who’s had a lifetime of kickings from the screws, thrown out time after time with a hundred quid to build a new life and family and home, maybe he might have something useful to say. Upper class penal reformers like The Howard League and the unlamented Home Office sycophants at NACRO have succeeded in keeping the nick much as it was in the days of the Victorian penitentiary, only without the penitence. Another cunt like Aitken poncing a position and a wholly undeserved public voice on the backs of the poor, the lost and the mentally ill who constitute a large part of the jail population will help ensure things stay much as they are. The remedy to the prison crisis is straightforward enough for anyone with the political will. Legalise drugs and cut more than half of crime at a stroke. Even the cops say this is overdue. Employ graduates in the nick - as in the probation and social services - for those who must be incarcerated and whom we really don’t want to reoffend on release. Properly resource the probation service after a decade of it being fucked about by populist clowns like Himmler Straw and the mouthy gabshite Blunkett. Devise meaningful and productive community sentences for lesser offences and do some of this fucking “investment” that the mad cunt Brown blethers about in mental health services. Stop using the nicks as cheap hospitals for disturbed people. 
There. Job done. Remedy from Polish plumber. Perhaps Mr Nit-Picking Fucking Anonymous will forward it to Ian and Duncan Smith’s Independent Think Tank, in which it will, no doubt, promptly fucking drown. Aitken has done his time, and given his breach of trust and his cynical use of his own children, a custodial sentence was quite appropriate. He shouldn’t be further punished but his crimes were so fucking obnoxious, so absolutely inexcusable by hardship or illness or need or disadvantage that he has no business pronouncing or “advising” on public policy. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act is, as the great Polish playwright says, honoured more in the breach than the observance. Exclusions abound and it is virtually meaningless; it is nigh on impossible for a former convict to have a normal life ever again and this may be, in the scheme of things, understandable and even proper. What is not understandable or proper, however, is Lord Jeffrey Arsehole and the arsonist Lord Mike Watson* of Scotland retaining seats in the legislature, or the lying cunt Aitken being involved, at any level, in something as important as penal reform - and in whatever else he most assuredly hopes it will lead him to, the vile bastard. 

* Baron Watson of Invergowrie was expelled from the Labour Party in 2005 when he was imprisoned for setting fire to the curtains in an Edinburgh hotel’s reception following the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards. (Gotta say it : honest, not invent.) Readmitted to the Party in 2012; made Labour spokesman on Education in the Lords by Jeremy Corbyn in 2015. - (editor verge)

This, and much, much more can be found in the four-volume Call Me Ishmael oeuvre, collected by editor mr verge.

Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack, Ishmael’s Blues, and the latest, Flush Test (with a nice picture of the late, much lamented, Mr Harris of Lanarkshire taking a piss on a totem pole) are available from Lulu and Amazon. If you buy from Amazon, it would be nice if you could give a review on their website.
Ishmaelites wishing to buy a copy from lulu should follow these steps :
please register an account first, at This is advisable because otherwise paypal seems to think it's ok to charge in dollars, and they then apply their own conversion rate, which might put the price up slightly for a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow one of the links below (to either paperback or hardback) or type "Ishmael’s Blues" into the Lulu Bookstore search box. Click on the “show explicit content” tab, give the age verification box a date of birth such as 1 January 1960, and proceed.
Link for Hardcover :
Link for Paperback :

At checkout, try WELCOME15 in the coupon box, which (for the moment) takes 15% off the price before postage. If this code has expired by the time you reach this point, try a google search for " voucher code" and see what comes up.
With the 15% voucher, PB (including delivery to a UK address) should be £16.84; HB £27.04.

It's the Scottish Budget on Tuesday. Hope they can afford to buy these chaps some underwear.

Sunday 10 December 2023

The Sunday Ishmael: 10/12/2023


Woops, he's done it again! Had an Idea. An Idea, moreover, thoroughly approved of by Bill Browder. Who he? He's the CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management, which was once the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia. 10 years ago he had $4.5bn under management, and was the largest single foreign investor in Russia. Browder’s primary investment strategy was shareholder rights activism. He took on large Russian companies such as Gazprom, Surgutneftegaz, Unified Energy Systems, and Sidanco.

So what's the Baron's Idea? International support for Ukraine's war with Russia is fading, as the conflict drags into its second year. In the United States a Bill to provide more than $60 billion in lethal aid for Ukraine was blocked by Republican Senators. So; Baron Call Me Dave, Britain's Foreign Secretary, has decided that the £278 billion in Russian bank accounts, frozen as a key part of the international sanctions to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, should now be stolen. In his own words:
“Instead of just freezing that money, let’s take that money, spend it on rebuilding Ukraine and that is, if you like, a down payment on reparations that Russia will one day have to pay for the illegal invasion that they’ve undertaken. I’ve looked at all the arguments and so far, I haven’t seen anything that convinces me this is a bad idea.”
Okay, Baron, how about that for an argument?

I daresay the Baron, before he was a noble gentleman, looked at all the arguments against inserting his privy member into the decapitated head of a pig (allegedly) and didn't see anything that convinced him it was a bad idea. Most of the less privileged classes would have recoiled in horror, saying "you want me to do What? Stick my dong in That? And it's not even cooked?"
Most of us have no problems in grasping the concept that Putin would be pretty hacked-off if Britain steals £278 billion from him and his chums, bearing in mind the fact that Boris Johnson has already made us into The Great Satan with his schoolboyish enthusiasm for joining in with a war that has nothing to do with us and which it is inevitable that Putin will win - me too, he squealed, let me play, too, take their minds off Covid. But of course, Boris is a fellow Bullingdon Boy and he probably looked at all the arguments and didn't find anything to convince him that taking on Russia was a bad idea.
Have you seen the size of the place?
So why is Bill Browder so keen on this Grand Theft Rouble? He's got skin in the game. Basically, he's on the run. In 2013, he was tried in absentia in Russia for tax fraud, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. Interpol has so far rejected Russian requests to arrest Browder, saying the case was political. He has written a couple of books about his experiences with Putin's Russia:
Freezing Order and Red Notice. In November 2009, lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was beaten to death by eight police officers in a cell in a Moscow prison, having been imprisoned following testifying against Russian officials who were involved in a conspiracy to steal $230 million of taxes through a tax refund scheme. Browder and his team tracked the money as it flowed out of Russia through the Baltics and Cyprus and on to Western Europe and the Americas, through battles with ruthless oligarchs in post-Soviet Union Moscow, to the heart of the Kremlin.
He was on the Laura Kuenssberg Show this morning, opining that Britain and the US must win their proxy war against Russia, or Russia would next attack Estonia, a NATO ally. Which would require NATO to officially, rather than surreptitiously, join in and thus kick off World War Three. Given his particular experience of the ruthlessness of Putin's Russia, you'd think he would urge caution and not cheer on Baron Dave-I've considered-all-the-arguments..
Here's a few thoughts from mr ishmael about the Baron and his Good Ideas:

"There is no doubt in my mind about HamFace’s undergrad deviance; end, as they say, of story. I imagine at bedtimes poor Mrs Cormorant is compelled to dress herself from head to foot in suede and utter ecstatic oinks, the whole grisly charade applauded by a quartet of masturbating Old Etonians. Sadly, Cameron, a catastrophically over-promoted airhead, himself starting to pout and mince and play to the gallery of reptiles, combing his hair this way and that, dragooning bloated self-satisfied geriatrics to his cause, adds to the national woe; he is good, as we say in Scotland, for fuck-all; his strategy is Hang On Sloopy, Sloopy Hang On. While the country slides into a sea of shit, David MustaphaWar Cameron, seeks a Thatcher Falklands moment to divert attention from his stupefying, hand-waving, shirt-sleeve, shit-brain, good-for-fuck-all and increasingly bad-tempered maladroitness, before pissed-off British citizens take to the streets burning the useless prat in effigy and with any luck in person, rightly blaming him for EU-led treachery, for inflation, rocketing fuel prices, unemployment, repossessions, the gerryman-dering of boundaries, the rigging of the constitution, the wholly unmandated destruction and privatisation of public services and the shameless, self-interested kowtowing to the financial terrorists who got us all into this shit, all over the fucking world."
The Scottish Sunday Show, compered by the manly Martin Geissler, led this morning on the rejection by the Court of Session of the appeal by the Scottish Government against the UK Government’s Section 35 order imposed to put a stop to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. The legislation harmed women's rights and was the result of a poor policy process, insincere consultations, partisan lobbying by Stonewall and the Equality Network and evasive debates. The Scottish Government was given legal technical advice to the effect that the legislation was unlawful and that the UK Government would step in. Of course, that's fighting talk to the SNP and so the Bill to allow gender self-identification was passed by a majority. The rest followed, as night follows day, and the Court of Session has vindicated the UK Government's decision to stop the legislation in its tracks. Rather than allowing for a period of reflection and acceptance, the SNP has dressed this up as an attack on devolution itself and is considering how it can go about overturning the legal decision.
A bit like Shifty Sunak's legislation to work around the Supreme Court's judgement against the expensive plan to send a handful of illegal migrants to Rwanda For Fuck's Sake.
Dear Jonathon Sumption, a former Supreme Court Judge, said Shifty Sunak's plan was "profoundly discreditable. If the courts are told [by an Act of Parliament] that they've got to pretend that Rwanda is safe, whether it is or not, then that will work domestically, but it won't work internationally. It will still be a breach of the government's international law obligations. It will be a breach of the refugee treaty. It will be a breach of the rules of customary international law which the government has been promoting and saying covers this obligation for some years." He reckons that Shifty Sunak's proposed legislation, over which Chubby Jenrick
has resigned his post as Immigration Minister, not because it is diabolical but because it is insufficiently rigorous, will not make it through the House of Lords because it is shite. He didn't say that, of course - he's very careful with his worms words - he said:
"It would be constitutionally a completely extraordinary thing to do, to effectively overrule a decision on the facts, on the evidence, by the highest court in the land."

Back to Scotland - Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 is a legal provision that allows the Secretary of State for Scotland to veto a bill passed by the Scottish Parliament. The veto can only be used if the bill is incompatible with international obligations, defence, or national security. The veto is considered a matter of last resort. Shows how incredibly seriously the impact of this gender self-identification Bill on the three other nations within the United Kingdom would have been. The Bill included these provisions:
  • The age limit for applications to be cut from 18 to 16
  • The requirements for medical reports, including a gender dysphoria diagnosis, will be dropped
  • The period applicants are required to live in their acquired gender will be reduced from two years to three months (and, after an amendment to the legislation was accepted by ministers, to six months for 16 and 17-year-olds)
  • The addition of a three month "reflection period" before a gender recognition certificate is issue
  • Applications will be handled by the Registrar General for Scotland instead of the UK panel

Ellie Gomersall is a strong supporter of the legislation, which she says would make her life easier and more dignified. The impact on the wider UK would be that, once Scotland granted a Gender Recognition Certificate, that person would be legally entitled to be treated as being a member of the chosen gender wherever they travelled or lived. We have already rehearsed in these pages the effect of this on the rights and safety of biological women. Here's one of them:

Needham, fourth from the left.

Football player, Francesca Needham, 30, was said to have left her opponents 'terrified' to play against her after Needham broke another player's knee while blocking a shot, citing "safety concerns". Needham is a big, strong transwoman who was born a man.

Speaking up for the dignity of the Scottish Government on the Martin Geissler Show was Ellie Gomersall, a distressingly ugly transwoman who is, by her own admission, leading an undignified life.
We're not going to hold his/her ugliness against him/her. God knows there's enough formidably ugly biological females around. And I have no doubt that his/her undignified life is a matter of deep distress. (S)he says "I think ultimately the only person who can really describe my own identity, my own gender is me," explaining his/her inability to change his/her birth certificate because (s)he has been unable to acquire a gender recognition certificate - because (s)he has been unable to obtain an initial appointment, let alone a diagnosis of gender dysphoria or the required medical reports, at Glasgow's Sandyford gender identity clinic, one of four facilities run by NHS Scotland. So (s)he wants the law changed. Sounds like there's a great many trans people in Scotland if the four clinics are so over-run that Ellie couldn't get an appointment in five years. It's only a small country, remember. Population of 5,463,300 in 2019. No, its not the ugliness or undignified life. It's the fact that this person has made a career out of gender issues, first in the National Union of Students, then in the Young Greens. Grievance Politics.

Wot's on Telly
Dr. Who, with David Tennant. Very stylish, very funny, incredibly gay, written by Russell T. Davies, so it's grooming of the nation stuff. The budget seems to have run to helicopters and explosions. No more shaky scenery.

mr ishmael: "Across the board, many adults are Woganised, infantilised, unable to bear their own silences, unable to entertain, comfort, amuse or stimulate themselves, millions addicted to the children's programme, Dr Who, pretending to watch it because it is challenging, philosophical, science fictional, tackling difficult issues, when all they are doing is lusting after whichever character

is the current Dr's current jailbait cyber-minx,
IS he gonna fuck her?
Kleptocrats robbing and raping us, angry millions on the move in our direction, ice-caps melting and we lose ourselves in spells and wands and wizards; in Time lords and Daleks; in retreaded galactic wars of empire.

Malapropism Contest

It takes a Cat to Scratch a Mackerel.

It's back to Square Peg One.


More extreme political satire can be found in the four-volume Call Me Ishmael oeuvre, the work of editor mr verge.

Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack, Ishmael’s Blues, and the latest, Flush Test (with a nice picture of the late, much lamented, Mr Harris of Lanarkshire taking a piss on a totem pole) are available from Lulu and Amazon. If you buy from Amazon, it would be nice if you could give a review on their website.
Ishmaelites wishing to buy a copy from lulu should follow these steps :
please register an account first, at This is advisable because otherwise paypal seems to think it's ok to charge in dollars, and they then apply their own conversion rate, which might put the price up slightly for a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow one of the links below (to either paperback or hardback) or type "Ishmael’s Blues" into the Lulu Bookstore search box. Click on the “show explicit content” tab, give the age verification box a date of birth such as 1 January 1960, and proceed.
Link for Hardcover :
Link for Paperback :

At checkout, try WELCOME15 in the coupon box, which (for the moment) takes 15% off the price before postage. If this code has expired by the time you reach this point, try a google search for " voucher code" and see what comes up.
With the 15% voucher, PB (including delivery to a UK address) should be £16.84; HB £27.04.