Sunday, 25 June 2023

The Sunday Ishmael: 25/06/2023: Boating News

  Get your fresh, hot bollocks today.
Now that we've agreed that the Russian coup was nothing of the sort, let us turn our attention to matters domestic. Should you ever fall into the error of believing everything Wiki tells you, this entry about Windrush Day should re-balance your credulity: 
"Windrush Day is observed annually on 22 June in the United Kingdom...  introduced in June 2018 on the 70th anniversary of the Windrush migration....On 22 June 1948, 492 Caribbean people were brought to Tilbury Docks, Essex, in the UK, on the Empire Windrush ship..... After World War II, the United Kingdom's economy needed to be repaired. To do so, the British government recruited Afro-Caribbean migrants and offered them jobs. These jobs included the production of steel, coal, iron, and food, and also jobs in the service sector, such as running public transport and staffing the new National Health Service in the United Kingdom.
The first African-Caribbean immigrants in the United Kingdom were faced with extreme intolerance from many in the white population. Although African-Caribbean migrants were encouraged to settle in the United Kingdom and take up employment to relieve the labour market by the authorities, many early immigrants were denied access to private employment and accommodation because of the colour of their skin."
This entry is almost complete nonsense, but is widely believed as truth, rather than an origin myth - a myth, moreover, in which black people = good, white people = bad.
Here's more of the bollocks - sorry, canon:
The Windrush Poem
                                                Tracy Osei-Berko
Dear Britain,
When invited
They came for you
After war broke your country
They helped see you through
But then, you held all the power
So, they never really had a choice
Colonised and subdued
They were a people without a voice
So, to help rebuild
They arrived on your shores
To become your manufacturers
And assistants in stores
Their usefulness and very presence
Became a never-ending debate
And they were constantly subjected
To animosity and hate.......
It goes on and on, but I couldn't bear any more of either the doggerel or the propaganda. Here's an extract from another one, by Laura Serrant:
YOU CALLED ………..AND WE CAME.
You called…and we came.
In ships bigger than anything we had seen,
dwarfing our islands and covering them
in the shadows of smoke and noise.
Crowded, excited voices filled the air,
traveling to the ‘motherland’
– over weeks, over oceans that threatened to engulf us.
Driven by a wish, a call to save, to rebuild
and support efforts to establish ‘health for all’
in the aftermath of war.
You called….and we came.
It, too, goes on and on. However, the mythologised narrative is significantly different from the truth of the events in May and June 1948. The British Government was alarmed by the news that the Windrush was en route to Britain, carrying  531 West Indian men, who had taken advantage of fares heavily discounted by the Windrush's operator to offset losses because the ship was under capacity, on the final leg of her journey back to Britain.  A Privy Council memo sent to the Colonial Office on 15 June stated that the government should not help the migrants: ‘Otherwise there might be a real danger that successful efforts to secure adequate conditions of these men on arrival might actually encourage a further influx.’  Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech Jones replied: ‘These people have British passports and they must be allowed to land.’ But, he added confidently: ‘They won’t last one winter in England.’ Indeed, Britain had recently endured some very harsh winters.
London, Winter 1947
The Ministry of Labour was also unhappy about the arrival of the Jamaican men, minister George Isaacs warning that if they attempted to find work in areas of serious unemployment ‘there will be trouble eventually’. He said: ‘The arrival of these substantial numbers of men under no organised arrangement is bound to result in considerable difficulty and disappointment. I hope no encouragement will be given to others to follow their example.’ HMS Sheffield was deployed to monitor the Windrush, with orders to send it back if any passengers made trouble.
Soon afterwards, 11 concerned Labour MPs wrote to Prime Minister Clement Attlee stating that the government should ‘by legislation if necessary, control immigration in the political, social, economic and fiscal interests of our people… In our opinion such legislation or administration action would be almost universally approved by our people.’ The letter was sent on 22 June; that same day the Windrush arrived at Tilbury.
Fearing mass migration from the Caribbean into Britain, civil servants from the Colonial Office were dispatched to the Caribbean to orchestrate campaigns explaining that jobs in the UK were scarce, conditions were poor, with rationing remaining in place until 1954 for food, furniture, fuel and clothing, and immigrants could not be guaranteed employment or housing. There was a chronic shortage of housing in consequence of Hitler's slum clearance campaign, and the wartime coalition government under Churchill proposed to address the need for an anticipated 200,000 shortfall in post-war housing stock, by building 500,000 prefabricated houses, with a planned life of up to 10 years, within five years of the end of the Second World War. The Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Act 1944 aimed to deliver 300,000 units within 10 years, within a budget of £150 million.
There wasn't a post-war labour shortage, either, but a labour surplus. Between 1946 and 1960 almost 2 million people left the country, emigration encouraged by the government with subsided travel to Australia – at £10, a third of what the Windrush passengers paid. Even with mass emigration, unemployment rates remained stable. Fewer jobs than people.
Stripped of the mythologising, the single West Indian men aboard the Empire Windrush were economic migrants, come to Britain to make better life. They were not "sent for", nor were they "called". Their presence made demands on an entirely inadequate infrastructure for jobs, homes, food and clothes. Further, they were the spear head of mass migration into a country that did not have the infrastructure to support such an influx. Unsurprisingly, their presence was resented, as they constituted competition for the available resources and they were very visible as being neither native here, nor to the manor born. Mass migration to Britain continued between 1947 and 1962, latterly known as the "Windrush years", although these economic migrants were not transported on the Empire Windrush, which was used as a troopship until March  1954, when she caught fire and sank in the Mediterranean Sea with the loss of four crewmen. Legislation was eventually passed to strengthen immigration controls; the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968, for instance, stipulated that only those who were born in Britain or who had one parent or grandparent born there had right of entry. 
But why let history get in the way of a good origin myth?

Which brings us to the next part of the boating news - no, not the influx of illegal economic migrants in small rubber boats that Rishi Sunak is utterly failing to control, but yet another Scottish (best part of England) story.
See this? That's Scotland, that is. And all the little bits in the blue that look like dog droppings, they are islands. Rather a lot of them. Scotland is slowly rising, gradually recovering from the great weight of the ice sheet in the late Devensian glaciation about 22,000 years ago, which carved out the land between all those islands. The icesheet covered the whole of Scotland and Northern England. These islands - they are the tops of mountains and as Scotland rises from the sea, you'll be able to walk between the mainland and the islands. But that will take a very, very long time and another glacial period will probably come along before then, unless humans buckle down and create significantly more global warming to offset the forthcoming ice age.
So, we Scottish Islanders continue to rely on boats to get between the islands and the mainland and between the isles. The SNP administration steadfastly refuses to create permanent links,
Faroese Undersea roundabout
unlike the approach of the Faroese government, and equally steadfastly refuses to fund the replacement of the rust buckets that chug between the islands, regularly breaking down, stranding islanders and delaying fresh food. It also made an utter bollocks of the Ferguson Marine deal.
Pro-Scottish Independence tycoon, Jim McColl, bought Ferguson in 2014. He won the contract for building two ferries, which would be used by CalMac on the Western Isles routes. The procurement process has been dogged by allegations of fraud, currently under investigation by a leading lawyer, Barry Smith. Ferguson Marine was nationalised in 2019 by the SNP after it collapsed into administration following years of delays and over-spend on the two ferries. SNP Ministers have repeatedly defended the nationalisation decision on the basis that it saved jobs. Now Ferguson is actively considering job losses - a hundred, it is rumoured; a third of the jobs at the shipyard. When asked about these rumours, Ferguson Marine chief executive David Tydeman said: "We are currently considering a number of strategies to enhance the future commercial prospects of Ferguson Marine and to ensure the shipyard has the right mix of skills and capabilities among the whole workforce. At the right time, we will engage and consult with individuals, employee groups, unions, and wider stakeholders on the best way forward.”
The two ferries - the Glen Sannox and hull 802 - are more than five years late and at least three times over their original £97 million budget. In May, SNP economy secretary Neil Gray issued an exceptionally rare ministerial direction for an additional £72m to be poured into Ferguson Marine to help fund the completion of the two vessels. We are told that the Glen Sannox (remember her? Disgraced former First Minister Sturgeon launched her in November 2017 with no windows on her bridge. What appear to be windows is actually black paint. The painted-on windows were a clever ruse to disguise the fact that the ferry was not finished).
Anyway, because the Glen Sannox is not due to be reporting for duty until the end of this year, and her sister ship is so unfinished she doesn't even have a name but may be launched by the end of next year, CalMac and the islanders it serves have a problem. Which appeared to be solved by leasing from Orkney's Pentland Ferries the Pentolina car ferry. Unfortunately, the Pentolina, having been tied up in the Kirkwall harbour for years, ever since its replacement by the Arthur, failed to pass its seaworthiness tests. Desperate not to lose the lucrative leasing contract, the owner of Pentland Ferries, Andrew Banks, offered Cal Mac the use of the Arthur instead, at a fee of one million Great British pounds a month. Every month. Every single month. One million quid. A month. Remember the Arthur? The inquiry by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch into why it ran aground on Swona in July 2022 is continuing. So Mr. Banks needed to use the Pentolina instead - as Pentland Ferries were booked solid for the summer, with people, cars, trucks, removal vans, caravans, Tesco lorries. First outing, the 29th April, the Pentolina ran aground just after leaving its home port of St Margaret's Hope, with smoke and flames belching out of the engine room. It was under repair for April, May and a bit of June. Orkney's holiday accommodation businesses suffered badly, with multiple cancellations.
Just another Scottish tale of greed and incompetence.

Talking of which, Disgraced Former First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who hasnae done anything wrong, was arrested and interviewed for 7 hours as part of the inquiry into the SNP finances - more than £600,000 has gone missing, but a £100,000 camper van turned up on her mother-in-law's driveway. She was questioned, it seems, because she was one of the three signatories to the SNP party accounts, (being a signatory means you've read them and approved them as honest, legal and transparent), the other signatories being the then treasurer, Colin Beattie, and her husband, Peter Murrell. Murrell is being interviewed by Police Scotland again to discover what he knew about Jordan Linden, who quit last July as leader of North Lanarkshire Council following allegations that he had sexually harassed a teenager at a party in 2017. A further five men have come forward with allegations that Linden assaulted, harassed and behaved sexually inappropriately towards them, dating back to 2015. He says he hasnae done anything wrong.
Considering that the SNP has been sheltered and funded by the Westminster Government ever since gaining a majority in Holyrood, and has managed to make an absolute bollocks of everything it has done, how bloody dare First Monster Humza Useless announce that they will use the next general election as a mandate to request from Westminster another independence referendum. Just what sort of pig's ear would they make of running an independent country?
In more Boating News, the cruise liner parked up at Edinburgh to house Ukrainian refugees will be used instead for illegal migrants. Seems nobody is very keen on this, least of all the Ukrainian ladies who are having their cruising privileges revoked.


The three volumes of mr ishmael's Collected Works, selected, edited and anthologised by mr verge, the House Filthster, are now available.



Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack and Ishmael’s Blues 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 lulu.com. 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 : https://tinyurl.com/je7nddfr
Link for Paperback : https://tinyurl.com/3jurrzux
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 "Lulu.com 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.





Sunday, 18 June 2023

The Distracting Sunday Newness: 18/06/2023

 Suppose some dodgy Egyptian approaches you, Black and Decker in hand, and says I can cure that headache - just let me drill a hole in your head. You'd be looking around for the nearest house-brick for rub-down purposes and a pyramid to drop him into and seal up with quick-dry cement. But just suppose the same dodgy Egyptian approaches you wearing a bow tie and bearing an invoice for several thousand pounds for said hole-making. Seems the world has been beating a path to his door.
Professor Sam Eljamel and friend

 It’s the charisma and the power and the bow ties. 

Professor Eljamel, the former head of neurosurgery at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, Bonny Scotland, cut holes in people's skulls, then stuck the bit back in with superglue.  Leann Sutherland underwent the procedure in 2011 to cure her migraines. She is one of a hundred former patients calling for an enquiry into the dodgy Egyptian. (In this context, Egyptian is a generic term. I haven't a clue where the Professor was born). Trepanation is the oldest surgical procedure for which there is archaeological evidence, dating back 7,000–10,000 years. The main pieces of archaeological evidence are in the forms of cave paintings and human remains. At one 8,000 year old burial site in France, 40 out of the 120 prehistoric skulls found had trepanation holes. It was always a difficult and dangerous operation - only 40% of people survived the procedure, as evidenced by bony regrowth surrounding the hole. Or not - if dead.
In medieval times, the procedure was used to let the madness and confined demons out. 
Detail from The Extraction of the Stone of Madness by Hieronymous Bosch c. 1488-1516. 

There remain some loony groups who enthusiastically take the Black and Decker to their own and their fellow cult-members' heads, believing it will increase insight and enhance mental power, wellbeing and induce a state of permanent euphoria, but I believe the medical term for that is a load of old bollocks, and can render you liable to prosecution: in 2000, two men from Cedar City, Utah, were prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license after they performed a trepanation on an English woman to treat her chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.
Trepanation remains a popular procedure for reducing pressure in the brain due to skull trauma and is now referred to as a craniotomy. It should only be performed after diagnostic imaging, including computed tomography  and magnetic resonance imagery to pinpoint the issues within the brain. The pre-operative imaging allows for accurate examination and evaluation. Unlike trepanation, the removed piece of skull is typically replaced as soon as possible. Our man Sam did not bother with all that - three surgeon colleagues in Dundee told the BBC that Sam  Eljamel discouraged the use of X-rays because he was so arrogant and because it saved him money. It is thought that as a result he operated in the wrong place on the spines of at least 70 patients - leaving many permanently disabled.
Leann Sutherland's extracted bone did not re-seal to her skull. She said: "The wound burst open and the brain fluid started to pour out the back of my neck." The next day her hospital bed was "soaked" with her spinal fluid. When she got up to use the bathroom she collapsed and said the fluid went all over the floor. A nurse put a wet floor warning sign on the area. Her mum had to chase Mr Eljamel down a corridor to get him to come and look at her - at which point she was rushed back into surgery.
NHS Tayside has consistently claimed it only knew about concerns from June 2013 and that they put Eljamel under supervision at that point - but an NHS whistleblower has told BBC Scotland that the health board knew as early as 2009 that there were serious concerns. The three surgeons who worked under Eljamel in Dundee all said he was a bully who was allowed to get away with harming patients, that there was a lack of accountability in the department and that  Eljamel was allowed to behave as if he were a "god" - partly because of the research funding he brought to the department. 
We really need to stop this idolisation of flawed men in bow ties. Leann should have said - you what? Cut a hole in my skull? Remove a piece of the bony protection of my self, my identity, my memory store, my bladder control ffs - naw, mate, you need a quick rubdown with a house brick and entombing in a mine shaft.

Why the bow tie? In order to prevent a long tie dabbling in wounds/pus/pee/faeces/semen, some brighter-than-most tied the two ends together in a pretty bow. Couldn't just leave it off, of course.

It was Dr Ignaz Semmelweis (July 1818 to August 1865), a Hungarian doctor and scientist, who discovered that doctors' dirty hands transmitted infection and that hand washing in chlorinated lime solutions would reduce mortality to below 2% in newly-delivered mothers, who were attended by doctors who had come from the dissecting room to the delivery room without washing their hands. This offended his colleagues, who mocked him and rejected his conclusions. The  Semmelweis reflex is a metaphor for human behaviours characterized by reflex-like rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms, beliefs, or paradigms. It didn't end well for Dr. Semmelweis, who was incarcerated for lunacy by his erstwhile colleagues, beaten by the warders, which induced a sepsis in the wounds they made, from which he died.

Dr Nicholas Chapman, aged 55, from Taunton, seems not to subscribe to the Semmelweisian doctrine of hand washing. He told Gloucester Crown Court last week that he suffers from a medical condition that causes him to ejaculate when going to the toilet; he does not wash his hands after urinating and therefore he had semen on his hands when making a cup of coffee for a female friend and the semen found its way into the coffee, dirty fucking bastard. The Court rejected his explanation for the presence of his semen in the coffee made by this barista from hell, and convicted him of attempting to engage in sexual activity without consent. His victim had reported her suspicions that coffee made by Chapman was unlike that available at Starbucks and took a sample to Avon and Somerset Police, who tested the drink and found Chapman's semen in it. Sentencing will take place on the 6th July.

You can't make this stuff up. Just remember - the person most likely to kill you is your Doctor. Or commit peculiar sexual assaults upon you. Should you be offered a coffee, or, indeed, a trepanning, when next visiting your GP, just say no.

Ishmaelites may remember that mr ishmael wrote of Leicester Royal Infirmary with particular venom: here's an example:

 Leicester Royal Infirmary, in my experience, is a filthy, shambolic, polyglot, twelve-storey shithole which should be demolished; overrun by  dangerously useless foreign nurses and doctors who can't or won't speak English; a spell in that place would surely nourish one's inner Ukipper. I saw an oriental nurse, doing diabetic blood tests, whose actions could not but pass infection from one patient's bloodstream to that of the next patient; she wiped-off excess blood from a patient's thumb-prick not with a swab or a piece of cotton wool but with the thumb of her latex glove, repeating the process, wearing the same glove, with the next dozen patients, into each patient's bloodstream, thus,  passing the blood of the previous patient.  She should have been jailed. Fortunately - and sensibly - I always do my own blood tests in hospital and waved  the filthy bitch away.  In the same ward, another, young, student male nurse, spread sepsis in a uniquely thoughtful way - when he performed the blood tests he would carefully tape a little cotton wool to the test site, each time tearing the tape between his teeth.

Leicester Royal Infirmary, flagship NewLabour disease pit, and employer of mad ventriloquist McCann, has a mission statement which says: Doesn't matter if our incompetent actions result in your death as you would have died eventually anyway. Honest. Stanislav not invent. The government could display real vision by adapting this to any outbreak of plague.

The reason for this vitriol is that mr ishmael had the misfortune to be treated in Leicester Royal Infirmary for a severe infection of a diabetic ulcer at the base of his big toe. After the infection was brought under some control by the administration of intravenous antibiotics, the surgeon-doctor-bastard wanted to operate to remove dead and diseased tissue from the wound. I was with mr ishmael when the Important Surgeon's flunky brought the consent form to mr ishmael's bedside the night before the operation. The flunky explained that the procedure would be carried out under general anaesthetic, was called a debridement, which might include amputation of the big toe. mr ishmael told the flunky that he did not consent to the removal of his toe. Flunky protested that refusal  might necessitate mr ishmael be woken up mid operation to gain his consent.  "But I will not consent to my toe being amputated", he  stoutly responded, "Under Any Circumstances".  He struck out from the consent form the words: "debridement up to and including the removal of the great toe", and signed it. You know how this ends. He woke up after the operation, his foot swathed in bandages, his great toe removed and off to the incinerator.
We were in Leicester because we were en route home to Orkney after a holiday. The amputation of a big toe from a middle-aged unstable diabetic is not a trivial thing. It takes some recovery. It is not like those super-fit young Invictus-Games athletes. mr ishmael never wore shoes again - he had to wear those stupid surgical booties. When mr ishmael was home he reported the assault upon his person to the Leicester Police, who flew a couple of police officers to Orkney to interview him. Doubtless they fancied a bit of a holiday. They were hugely sympathetic,  telling mr ishmael that they had long wanted to get their hands on one of these arrogant bastards who fancied themselves above the law - well, face it, they usually are: (more cream in your coffee, Officer? God, NO.) They had their doubts about a successful prosecution, saying that the medical/surgical profession are rarely prosecuted, but, hey, let's have a go, here's the non-consent form, black and white evidence, and even if we can't get it into Court, we'll have 'im down the cells and put the frighteners on 'im. Here's mr ishmael on the conclusion of the matter: 
My last stint in an English hospital,  the Leicester Royal Infirmary, resulted in my getting Surgeon Brown arrested and interviewed under caution, although, of course, the CPS felt that a jury wouldn't convict a doctor, although I, given a chance,  would have made certain that they did, no matter; he'll never do that shit again, having had his collar felt.
Fucking Surgeon Brown said in his defence to the police: "well, it would have auto-amputated, anyway". (Translation - would have fallen off). The bastard got carried away - in there with his sharp little knife, cut-cutting way, happy days, patient anaesthetised up to fuck, snicker-snack and went galumphing back. 
Here's an interesting side bar with myself - you know I was in private practice as a hypnotherapist? The multiplicity of self constantly intrigues me. So, for example, who is it who pulls your hand away from the flame before your conscious mind is even aware of the danger? Who is it who stands up before your conscious mind decides to do so? The clever fellows with instruments have charted these responses in the brain (that precious thing held safe in its bony carapace until some surgeon-bastard breaches its integrity) long before the self that you call you has got around to any action. So, working with my clients under hypnosis has long convinced me that only your conscious mind is anaesthetised. Another part of you is perfectly aware of the assault perpetrated upon you under anaesthetic, feels every slice of the scalpel, hears the ribald jokes about your anatomy, your adipose tissue, your chances for survival. And that part of you is unprepared, frightened by being rendered paralysed, unable to fight back, not understanding the therapeutic intent of this surgical assault. Think of it as a child, or an adult dog. Competent, but limited. It is not their world. So the best preparation for surgery, if you really must go under the knife (don't even think about cosmetic surgery - it is only an income generator for the surgeon and his team and not remotely therapeutic), is to get yourself into your own peak of physical perfection - stop smoking, lose excess weight, exercise, stop drinking alcohol, drink water, get deep sleep, and have multiple coaching sessions with the part of yourself that will face the knife wide awake, hurting and scared. The pain of surgery is only postponed by anaesthesia. 
How do that? Well, alone. 
Take yourself into a trance state. You know that state well - you've been slipping into and out of it since the womb - some call it prayer, some meditation, some lost in a good book, or a film, or contemplation, or pre-sleep. And reassure that part of yourself that all will be well, that this is a good hurt that will help make you well, that the surgeons are skilful, purposeful and effective. The most effective mantra is: this is a small injury quickly healed.

That's enough crap about doctors.

So, Johnson has been fucked up the arse by Parliament. They've been queuing up, elbowing each other aside for their turn. Constantly amusing, the Tories, self-serving, self-aggrandising, motivated by the conviction that we may be fucking awful, but we're better than Labour, and God intends us to have dam' fine incomes. This Report, though, in all its tedious length, does seem to be a peculiarly nasty hatchet job. Ninety days, eh, what?
Strangely, the Great British Public seems to be regarding Johnson as the originator of Covid, the bloke what killed their elderly relatives, a bit of a Nero, partying  away while Britain couldn't even go down the pub, never mind pick up a bit of  willing totty.  
Interviewed on the Laura Noseberg show on Sunday morning,
 Michael Gove, God Bless 'im (he's become a bit of a National Treasure by dint of Not Going Away), was firmly, decisively, resolutely, definitively, not to be drawn on the issue of Boris - good bloke, or Boris - Evil Monster from Hell. 
"The Report of the Privileges Committee is a thorough piece of work and it has much to inform us and I will be firmly and resolutely abstaining":

The three volumes of  mr ishmael's Collected Works, selected, edited and anthologised by mr verge, the House Filthster, are now available.  


Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack  and Ishmael’s Blues 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 lulu.com. 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 :  https://tinyurl.com/je7nddfr
Link for Paperback : https://tinyurl.com/3jurrzux
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 "Lulu.com 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.



Sunday, 11 June 2023

The Sunday Ishmael: 11/06/23

 
Conservatives - fighting like crabs in a sack

Did you read Bo-Jo's resignation letter? Not much Ho-Ho there. He reckons he's been stitched up by his erstwhile colleagues who want "to take revenge for Brexit and ultimately to reverse the 2016 referendum result. My removal is the necessary first step, and I believe there has been a concerted attempt to bring it about."  
I reckon he's probably right. He cites the witch hunters - Sue Gray - who investigated gatherings in Number 10 - and is now the chief of staff designate of the Labour leader, and her "supposedly impartial" chief counsel, Daniel Stilitz KC, who "turned out to be a strong Labour supporter who repeatedly tweeted personal attacks on me and the government." And the Privileges Committee, which Bo-Jo sees as misusing their powers "to mount what is plainly a political hit job on someone they oppose." The Privileges Committee was led by 72 year old Labour MP, Harriet Harman, who, for those with long political memories, is forever tainted by  her association with the Paedophile Information Exchange whilst a legal officer with the National Council for Civil Liberties from 1978 to 1982.  She subsequently repudiated her support, saying: "I very much regret that this vile organisation, PIE, ever existed and that it ever had anything to do with NCCL." Ah, yes, Harriet, but it did. 
Another claim to ignominy was her 2009 attempt to have MP's expenses exempted from the Freedom of Information Act. The failure of her motion led to the disclosure of expenses of British MPs - which made very interesting and shocking reading, and earned David Cameron the soubriquet "Wisteria Dave" when it emerged that he had claimed 680 quid for the removal of wisteria from the chimney of his house. Anyway, Harriet was among 40 MPs who had secretly repaid wrongly (illegally?) claimed expenses between 2008 and 2010. Despite a stalwart, but failed, attempt in November 2010 by her parliamentary private secretary Ian Lavery to keep the whole scandal quiet by blocking a motion to allow these secret repayments to be made public, the following month the details were made public. It forced the resignation of Speaker Michael Martin, who had presided over the whole ghastly greed-fest by troughing MPs. 
Harriet is also a multiple offender, having convictions in 2003 for speeding - 29 miles per hour over the motorway limit of 70 mph, receiving a £400 fine and a 7 day disqualification from driving; in 2007 for driving at 50 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone, gaining a £60 fine and 3 penalty points on her licence, which she didn't pay for several months until receiving a notice to appear at Ipswich Magistrates Court. Undeterred by the experience, she continued in her career as a scoff-law, breaking the speed limit yet again the following year, garnering a further 3 points on her licence. On the 3rd July 2009, she drove into another vehicle whilst chatting on her mobile phone. She pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention, was fined £350, a costs order of £70 was imposed, a £15 victim surcharge was imposed and 3 penalty points were added to her licence. The sentence was widely criticised for its leniency, with suggestions that had she not been a Member of Parliament, she would not have got away so lightly. Must have been in the days of deference. Look, I've been a Probation Officer and I know fine well that by the time someone ends up in court, they've already committed that offence umpty-ump billion times already, and they've only been caught this time because the police got lucky, a speed camera was in the right place at the right time, or they let their guard down on that occasion, got a bit complacent, like, just so used to doing it that it no longer seems wrong, the law doesn't apply to me, etcetera, etcetera. 

mr ishmael had her number: here's a little piece from the Drafts:

LABOUR NEWS, RISING STARS, JACK DROMEY, WIFE OF HARRIET HARMAN.

Aside from a too-smooth, shaven-headed black guy, whose name I can never remember even for three seconds, the new Labour front bench looks much the same as the old New Labour front bench, the same dreary old parachute regiment of nobodies, parachuted-in to safe seats, so that they don't even have to contest an election. Is the party out of its fucking mind, or what, fielding, for instance, both IcePixie Woman Yvette Cooper AND her motormouthing hubby, Ed the Bankers Darling Balls, does Labour think that the electorate, that meagre part of it which can be bothered at all, is so malleable that it will forget not only the Ballses breathtaking, nation-beggaring incompetence and stupidity and their cynical warmongering but also their greedy chiselling of dual sets of expenses and housing allowances ? They must be expenses millionaires; ghastly useless, shrivelled, little bint and bloated, phoney know-it-all; they should be in fucking jail, their brats in care.
Bubbles Burham, is still shadowing health, despite the Stafford Massacre occurring under his responsibility as Secretary of State for Health. Some, poor darlings, have to wait longer than others to bypass the selection processes which apply to working people. Poor old Jack Dromey, the deluded babbling partner of Labour aristocrat Harriet Soursister, is one such. A long-time union gangmaster, Jack married Harry in 1982, yet was only made an MP a few years back, sliding into safe Birmingham, Erdington.
So Harman is clearly a wrong 'un and Bo-Jo's contempt for her chairmanship of the Privileges Committee seems perfectly understandable. You get all sorts in Westminster.

Could the British Establishment be so enraged by Boris having "Got Brexit Done" that it would turn on him, bigging up the partygate allegations to achieve their ends? Well, yes, sure they could. Britain's membership of Europe constituted a never-ending gravy train for the political establishment.

Next week we will see what it was in the Report that caused Boris to stamp off in high dudgeon.

Here's a few thoughts by stanislav, a young Polish Plumber, in November 2007, about Boris' career and rise to political eminence:

stanislav said...
Stanislav not up for hire. Busy with Plumb Cheap 4U. Not fit lick boots of Boring Johnson. Some say Johnson phony stuttering cunt pander to Colonel Blimp nitwit constituency. Not Stanislav. Boring is fine constituency MP, only part-time homme des lettres, only spend five minutes a day write for Telegraph, Spectator, go on TV, fuck cocaine totty in back of Bentley, campaign for (Hell freeze over) Mayor, rest is busy devoted to voters - who pay salary.
God bless, Boris. All row together. Can’t have too many Oxbridge Etonians fucking country up arse. Johnson family motto; this gonna hurt me but not as much as is gonna hurt you. Bravo. Bullingdon uber allus. What are they like, these Flashman types ?

  •  Boris became Mayor of London in May 2008. 
  • Wisteria Dave resigned as Prime Minister on the 13th July 2016, surprised and dismayed by losing the Brexit vote. 
  • Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister on 24th May 2019, having done her damnedest to draw the teeth of the Brexit decision. 
  • Boris resigned as Prime Minister on the 6th September 2022, having put his back into getting Britain out of Europe. And succeeded!
  • The accession of the United Kingdom to the European Communities (EC) – the collective term for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) – took effect on 1 January 1973, thus fulfilling the  life aim of Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath, who had pursued the UK's application to the EEC since the late 1950's, in addition to being a keen yachtsman.

Each loathed by their respective political establishments. Both likely to make further bids for the top job.


And me? #Me too? 

More about Scotland, best part of England, coming soon. This ferry business is getting preposterous.

The three volumes of  mr ishmael's Collected Works, selected, edited and anthologised by mr verge, the House Filthster, are now available.  


Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack  and Ishmael’s Blues 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 lulu.com. 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 :  https://tinyurl.com/je7nddfr
Link for Paperback : https://tinyurl.com/3jurrzux
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 "Lulu.com 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.

Saturday, 10 June 2023

To be a Pilgrim: Recollections in Tranquility

 From the desk of mr mike: 

Postscript:  The Life of a Pilgrim on the Camino

My wife sent me instructions before I departed from Spain.  Don’t talk about it when you return, it will bore everyone.  Well, I feel I have to get it off my chest, just in case anyone wonders what its all about.

There are several Caminos criss-crossing southern Europe, all leading to Santiago (“St James”) the home of the remains of St James in the magnificent cathedral of Santiago. They were never intended as a holiday. They were always intended as a test of the Pilgrim; primarily a test of devotion, and to that end it is a physical and a mental test. And it certainly is a challenge
 
The physical part is obvious – not many can say that they have walked 30kms in a day, never mind done that every day for over a month carrying everything on their back over demanding terrain.
 
But the mental aspect is a challenge also, and initially unexpected.  Inevitably, there will be problems; injuries (blisters, sprains, ankles, knees, are all common), and its necessary to push on regardless. So, the first part of the mental challenge is to overcome these physical problems and press on.
 
But a deeper mental challenge emerges as the Camino progresses. From walking alone all day, in silence apart from bird song and the wind in the trees, with only your mind for company. It induces a form of meditation; self-examination of one’s life. I can only report my personal experience – it's quite profound. The experience gets stronger as the Camino progresses.  It is not necessary to be religious (I’m not) to experience these spiritual aspects.
 
Both the physical and mental challenges are compelling, which is why I have now completed five Caminoes.
 
Then there are the inevitable housekeeping aspects of every day life on the trail. Where to sleep; where to eat; how to avoid problems; how not to get lost – all in a foreign country.  On your own, its necessary to keep your wits about you at all times. A simple mistake can lead to a world of problems. Pre-planning and preparation is essential, but there will inevitably be unknown-unknowns to overcome.
 
As an example, as I learned only in the last couple of days:  a golfing friend of mine was doing the Camino Fran├žaise at the same time as I was doing my Camino.  It is usual to leave your boots at the entrance of the albergue (more shortly). In the morning at first light he picked up what he thought were his boots.  It was only after 2 hours he realised his feet were hurting and he had the wrong boots. He cut out the toes of the boots, but ended up having to abandon his Camino. A one in a million unknown.
 
In Spain, the Camino is well regarded for historical and religious reasons, but also for the revenue that it brings to rural areas.  There is a network of “albergues” along the route that provide Pilgrim accommodation. There are municipal (i.e. council-run) albergues,  privately-run albergues, and “refugios” run by religious orders. Some are “donativo” (i.e. free, but you can donate if you wish) but most cost 10-15 euros per night. Generally, the accommodation is good quality: a bunk bed with disposable cover sheets and sometimes blankets (so its necessary to carry a sleeping bag); always hot showers (essential after a hard day – orgasmic almost); usually somewhere to wash clothes (washing machines or at least hand-washing facilities) and often a kitchen where you can prepare food.  Always Wi-Fi is available. 
View from my top bunkbed.
I also like, from time-to-time, to stay in a pension when they are available. You have your own room, and generally a bath (heaven).  The cost is higher 30-40 euros, but occasionally it is necessary so you can move at your own pace rather than the rhythm of others. 

In Comillas

Food is an absolutely essential part of a Camino.  First: because of the physical exercise you are using more than twice your normal daily energy consumption.  So, I aim to eat twice what I usually eat, but even so, I know I will lose weight.  This time I lost 6kg – it was a hard Camino.  I’m normally 70kg at just over 6 foot; so now I’m skin and bone. After 10 days my pants were falling down, but fortunately some farmer’s string fixed the problem.  But, second, it is normally a chance to meet fellow Pilgrims because there are usually only a few (if more than one) places to eat.
 
What and where you eat is a personal thing. Some like to buy food and prepare it themselves in the albergue.  My choice is to go to a bar or restaurant and have a menu de dia (sometimes known as a menu perigrinos – pilgrim menu). Even the smallest villages always seem to have a bar. The cost this time was higher than previously - in the range of 12-15 euros. Always it's a substantial three course meal usually with some limited choices. You can choose what to drink – most pilgrims go for wine, and more often than not a full bottle is provided, included in the price. Also a basket of bread.
 
A note on the wine:  it is usually local and less alcoholic than what you would normally drink.  So a bottle doesn’t have much effect other than cheering you up and easing any aches or pains.
 
I have my first menu de dia at about 3 p.m. at the end of the day’s walk after a hot shower; I then go back to the albergue, check my phone and do any washing, then have a siesta until about 7.30 p.m.; then I usually have a second menu de dia.  Lights out is usually 9 p.m. I try to read up about the next day before falling asleep.  Most Pilgrims depart at first light the following morning (6.30am).
 
I usually choose soup as a starter 
Waiter! There’s a crab in my fish soup! The soup was delicious. 

 This was in a restaurant in Pola de Allande. Note there was a very nice pre-starter of fish pate and little toasts. The soup was all for me; white beans, potatoes, cabbage in a ham broth; there are pieces of ham and black sausage on a side plate. For second course I usually have fish, but on one occasion the Spanish lady insisted on choosing for me.  I think she thought I was looking thin so she super-sized me (no extra cost). 

Before

After
 
The food is unfailingly good and excellent value. But as I mentioned I did lose 6kgs over the course of this Camino.
 
This is typically the rhythm of the Camino, though every day is a new day and a new experience.
 
Finally, I would add that I find the Spanish people very friendly and helpful towards the Pilgrims. Even though I have only about 25 Spanish words in my vocabulary, it is always possible to be understood. One meets other Pilgrims of many nationalities, usually at eating time, and because we are all following the same route familiar faces emerge. As the Camino progresses a strong bond begins to form between the regulars.
 
Apologies, but I couldn’t resist showing the stars of the show
my feet back in Sydney. I had no blisters, but 3 black toenails on my right foot. This was probably because the descents were tough, but there was no discomfort.

My pilgrim credential with all its stamps from overnight stays. There are actually more stamps than stays (31) because in the last 100kms it is necessary to get 2 stamps each day.  

Sunday, 4 June 2023

mr mike on pilgrimage

 

Postcard 3 From The Camino
by mr mike, June 2023
 Note:  this third postcard has been written on my return to Sydney.  It was proving impossible to write anything of length on a phone with an un-educated thumb. That, plus problems sending for unknown reasons.

After about 15 days, the Camino del Norte divided.  

One spur continues along the coast as the Camino del Norte; the other spur turned inland and became the Camino Primitivo.  “Primitivo” in this context means “the first” as it was the first recognised Camino to Santiago centuries ago. Relatively few pilgrims walk the Primitivo.
 The Primitivo has a reputation for being the most difficult of all Caminoes because of the continuous big hills and mountains, a reputation it lived up to:

 Out of 31 days total walking it was not until about day 26 that a relatively flat stage arrived. As a measure of the difficulty, on a flattish stage I average 5kms/hour whereas on the Primitivo I was averaging 3.5-4 kms/hour – which led to some long (8 hour plus) days.
But one advantage of moving inland was that the effect of the Atlantic on the weather diminished.  It was a little warmer and drier (although I was lucky to have only 3 days of rain in the first two weeks).
 Half way through the Primitivo I was having a quiet cerveza one evening in a bar and a Canadian bloke asked me (thinking I was English) if I had heard of the old Aussie attempting the Primitivo.  I explained I was an Aussie and told him my age.  He was a little embarrassed. I think this started earlier on when a young German told me I was crazy to attempt the Primitivo at my age. “No worries, mate”, as we Aussies say. The cheeky bastard.  No wonder the Germans lost the war.  It seems I had acquired my own little fan club.
 The high point (literally) of the Primitivo is crossing a series of mountain peaks.  The Pilgrim has two options:  option one is a shorter route that takes one day;  there is a longer two-day route. Both routes involve climbing the highest peak at the end. I was trying to make my mind up having dinner at the albergue in Campiello which way to go next day.  It was Saturday evening. Luckily a Spanish woman told me that one of the albergues at the conclusion of this stage was closed on Sunday (closures on “domingo” are common for shops/bars etc in rural Spain). So, I decided on the two-day route meaning I would reach the destination on Monday. Fortunately, earlier on after Bilbao I had gained a day in hand doing two stages in one day (just over 40kms).
So, on Sunday I walked to Pola de Allande. I learned there that the peaks had been blanketed in heavy mist and it had rained that day. (Pilgrims are warned that the short route is too dangerous in bad weather).
On Monday morning I set off to climb the Alto de Palo.  The weather had cleared and it was blue sky and sunny in the foothills


 The climb to the top took about 2.5 hours. The climb became progressively steeper, approaching 45 degrees near the top.  But it was worth it; the views were magnificent – like being on top of the world 

at the peak with yours truly in shadow; incidentally, the yellow cockleshell motif is the symbol of the Camino.  

The other side.

After sweating profusely on the way up, there was an icy wind at the top, so time only to let the view sink in and take a few pictures before descending.
 That evening, enjoying dinner and a few glasses of medicinal red, I felt content having crossed the highest point and therefore the hardest stage.  Big mistake.  The next two days were the hardest of the whole trip.  Some serious climbs, but it was the descents which were particularly difficult

 Not only is the descent steep, but the paths are quite rugged with loose rock and stone making walking difficult.  It would be quite easy to slip (and carrying a backpack can easily put you off balance) and a fall, or twisted ankle or worse would have caused a world of trouble.
One particularly long descent (approx 5kms) down to a long reservoir 

 was generally agreed to be the most difficult.  The way over the reservoir was across a rather dramatic dam 



 with the inevitable climb up on the other side.

 By that point I had a few aches and pains (in my back mostly from carrying the backpack) but some Pilgrims were in a worse state with knee and foot problems after those stages.
Gradually, the hills became a little smaller

and after a pleasant night in the old city of Lugo, the terrain began to flatten out 

 Eventually, a signpost showing less than 50kms to Santiago.

After arriving in Santiago, and collecting my Compostella I had a wander around the cathedral and the old part of the town. I happened upon a few familiar faces I had seen from time to time during the journey and we bid a rather emotional farewell.
 Then a short flight to Madrid and next morning an interminably long flight to Sydney.
 All up it was just shy of 900kms and according to my phone, 999,254 steps.