Sunday 25 February 2024

The Sunday Ishmael: 25/02/2024

Beware the Jabberwock, my son, the jaws that bite, the claws that catch. Beware the Jub-Jub bird and shun the frumious bandersnatch.
There's really no shortage of people. If you measure success by how many DNA copies a species comprises, then homo sapiens has been staggeringly successful. Before the Agricultural Revolution, about 10,000 years ago, it is estimated that the hunter gatherer human population of the Earth was 6 to 10 million individuals. The United Nations tell us that the world population reached 8 billion on November 15, 2022. At 11.46 am on the 25th February 2024, it was 8,093,550,705. There's a world population clock you can have a look at here: World Population Clock: 8.1 Billion People (LIVE, 2024) - Worldometer ( The number goes up faster than you can follow. The United Nations estimate that the world population will reach 10 billion in 2059.
So how can demographers assure us that birth rates are falling so  catastrophically that the human race is facing an existential crisis?
Because they are looking through a Eurocentric lens. For a stable population, each woman needs to have 2.1 children. Any less and the population falls. So, until the transitional period is over and the population stabilises at a lower level, there will be more old people than young ones, paying less tax to maintain the services that society requires. In Italy, the birth rate is 1.24, in France 1.8, the UK 1.5, (but Scotland is 1.37). Widen the lens to include what we call the West, and we see the U.S. birth rate per woman is 1.7.
Women in the Middle East and Africa are doing the heavy lifting on keeping the population clock ticking merrily upwards: in the Middle East it seems that women have three babies each, in Chad and Mali they have six apiece and in Nigeria five each.
Received wisdom has it that women in the west are not doing their bit because they prefer the benefits of childlessness: more money, so better food, housing, clothes, material goods;  better advancement in careers, higher status - and who wouldn't, if you have the luxury of choice? A choice given by efficient birth control backed up by abortion. Others blame the prolonged adolescence of western culture - only in their thirties do people stop travelling, studying, games playing, and buckle down to the business of creating the next generation. And by then, of course, fertility has declined to the point that medical intervention is often required. We should start saying: Teenage Pregnancy? That's a good thing.
A factor that dares not say its name, however, could be this: 
Or this:

Or this:
The BBC's take on this work by Kim Petras is: "Titled Slut Pop Miami, it's an outrageous, sex-positive, club-ready tribute to the joys of carnal pleasure." 
The lyrics extol a practice that is unlikely to lead to conception, and impossibly so when perpetrated by one man upon another man dressed up as a woman.
Kim Petras and Sam Smith - two biological blokes at the Grammy Awards, 2023.

The thing is, that if men refuse to father children by women within a secure and lasting relationship, then sensible women will say fuck that for a game of soldiers, I'm not risking my health, happiness and financial position in order to have children as a single parent. Unless the state intervenes - remember that period of moral outrage when single mothers were vilified for getting pregnant for the purpose of securing housing and an income from the state? Turns out that they were heroines, really, as blokes have turned away from the responsibilities of fatherhood and family life in favour of the joys of Sodom, onanism and cross dressing.
What with all this non-reproductive sexual activity, and falling birth-rates in the West, you would expect that the small boats filled with illegal immigrants, especially if one or two of them included fertile females, would be welcomed with open arms by the osteoporotic nations. But no! It turns out that these geriatric countries are more bothered about the loss of their existing cultures than about welcoming foreigners who are willing and able to breed, will pay taxes and might also possibly adopt some of the host culture. In December, Elon Musk was invited to Italy by prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, to discuss ending Italy's "demographic winter". He said: "Italy is the people of Italy ....make more Italians to save Italy's culture."

And that, ladies, gentlemen and ishmaelite scholars, is at the heart of what has been happening in London this last week. Nope, not Italy- that's just an example. 
"Any large-scale human co-operation - whether a modern state, a mediaeval church, an ancient city or an archaic tribe - is rooted in common myths that exist only in people's collective imagination.... None of these things exist outside the stories that people invent and tell one another. There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws and no justice outside the common imagination of human beings." Sapiens Yuval Noah Harari.

And these stories - myths, narratives, can, and do, change. The story that has held the peepul of Britain together in a collective culture is changing faster than we are comfortable with. And when it does, violence usually ensues. 
Back when we were foragers, before the Agrarian Revolution, roving small bands of people would make war on other small bands, over issues of food, the territory over which you could roam to find your food, and possession of fertile females. It was immediate, real and touchable. Then the idea, or story, happened, cooked up in our human big brains, unifying myths, or culture. And now we go to war over ideas. Poor old Mr. Northern Speaker found himself in the middle of several of these competing certainties last week.
He has apologised - quite profusely. But I have seldom heard such a belligerent apology. 
Here they are, all upset, storming out.

For our non UK readers, and those who haven't been paying much attention (and, as ever, who can blame you?), here's what happened.
Three times in each Parliamentary session, the SNP are allowed an Opposition Day, in which they pick the topic for debate that day. On Wednesday, they laid down a motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli/Gaza conflict. Labour put down an amendment to the SNP motion, calling for an  "immediate humanitarian ceasefire", providing that both sides laid down their weapons and that all the Israeli hostages were released, and then the  Conservative Government tabled its own amendment, which leaves out calls for an immediate ceasefire and instead says that parliament “supports moves towards a permanent sustainable ceasefire”.
It is the Speaker's job to decide if an amendment can be debated and voted upon, within the parliamentary convention that if a motion has been put forward by an opposition party, like the SNP, it cannot be amended by another opposition party, like Labour - only by the government. Despite this, Mr Northern Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, ruled that both the government and Labour's amendments to the SNP's motion could and would be voted on, claiming he wanted to give the House as many options as possible when debating such an emotive topicPenny Mordaunt, sword bearer, then pulled the Government amendment, saying the Conservatives would "play no further part" in proceedings in protest at Hoyle's actions. So Labour's amendment was passed without a vote, the Tories and SNP became very agitated and walked out.
Massive stramash ensued, and Hoyle made his belligerent apology, in which he claimed to be protecting the lives of MPs. How so? you may ask. There have been weekly protests in the streets of London, MPs have been threatened online and in their own homes to pressure them to take a pro-Palestinian line in the Israeli/Gaza conflict, and so we are invited to assume that Hoyle, in giving MPs the opportunity to express their support for Gaza, believed he was saving their lives. What? What, What, Whattitty What? Yes, sounds a bit tenuous to me, too. God knows what he was up to, really. The Conservatives, who we suspect believe themselves to be God (with a divine birth-right to rule this dis-United Kingdom), allege that he was Starmer's cat's paw, having been a Labour man before he was elevated to the Speaker's Chair and therefore shed all his political allegiances and became, by convention, a man without conviction.

Bit of a mess, really. Picking out the unifying myths, or stories, in this lot, there's the idea of Parliamentary Democracy, there's the concept of three political tribes, there's the story of fair play and its our turn, there's the ridiculous idea that a debate in the House of Commons in London should have any bearing on a war being waged 2,229 miles away,

and there's the cry from the streets, called in aid by Mr. Northern Speaker, in which we see the collision of national and supra-national myths.
Here's a few definitions:
Islamist:  advocate or supporter of Islamic militancy or fundamentalism: "radical Islamists"
Islamic fundamentalism: a movement of Muslims who aim to return to the founding scriptures of Islam and live similarly to how the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his companions lived. It is defined as a puritanical, revivalist, and reform movement of Muslims.
Islamic terrorism:  terrorist acts with religious motivations carried out by fundamentalist militant Islamists and Islamic extremists.
Anti-Semitism: hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people
Judaism: a religion characterised by belief in one creator God (male)
Islama religion characterised by belief in one creator God (male)
Christianitya religion characterised by belief in one creator God (male)
Religion: a particular system of faith and worship. A narrative invented by humans.
Lobbying: to seek to influence a legislator on an issue. Does not legitimately include threats of violence and murder.
Flag:  piece of cloth or similar material, typically oblong or square, attachable by one edge to a pole or rope and used as the symbol or emblem of a country or institution or as a decoration during public festivities.

Of course, this conflict between narratives focused on the Gaza mess is dressed up in terms of faith, but, at bottom, is about territory and the concept of the nation state - which is another narrative.

Best of luck and be careful out there.

More sardonic wit, political satire and biting cynicism from mr ishmael can be found in the four-volume Call Me Ishmael oeuvre, collected and curated 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 :
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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.
A minister, an imam and a rabbi walk into a bar. The bartender looks at them and says, 'What is this, a joke?'

Sunday 18 February 2024

The Sunday Ishmael: 18/02/2024

Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves and the mome wraths outgrabe.  

Everything's rather gloomy and irritating just at present and it's hard to be excited about anything, even the last croaking writhings of the Conservative Party as they face the reality of losing their jobs en masse when Tiny Sunak gives in and calls an election.  The only Tory MP willing to go in front of the cameras to spin the drubbing that the Tories got in the Kingswood and Wellingborough by-elections looked like a rabbit transfixed by headlights or a chap in need of some chemical assistance. Illegal immigration minister Michael Tomlinson, K.C., Member of Parliament for Mid Dorset and North Poole and Minister of State for Countering Illegal Migration, was sent out to do battle on the politics programmes this morning. I've not come across this complete and utter nonentity before - he looks as if he has been carefully moulded from plastic and he speaks in polished perorations, won't admit to anything and says everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. 
He told Laura Kuenssberg that the elections had taken place against a “very difficult backdrop. Governments don’t traditionally win by-elections. It’s very clear that a vote for reform is a vote to let Labour in. That is a very clear message I have taken away.”
Laura told him that, au contraire, that was a load of bollocks: “the clear message” she said was “that voters don’t like the prime minister."
He was equally amusing when discussing his failure to stop the boats - one of Sunak's infamous  five pledges. Here they are again:
  • Halve inflation this year to ease the cost of living
  • Grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity across the country
  • Ensure national debt is falling
  • NHS waiting lists will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly
  • Stop asylum seekers crossing the Channel on small boats.
 Just wanted to give you a cheap laugh. 

Laura put to him a few facts: the total number of illegal arrivals since Sunak took office is 38,668 - over a third of the 115,927 who have crossed the Channel since January 2018. 52 successfully crossed on Friday, bringing the 2024 total to 1,605, almost 19% more than had crossed by this point in 2022.  To which Michael stuck to the party line: I'm doing my best and the numbers are going down. Laura made a point of saying she wouldn't make a bet with him whether he'll get any illegal immigrants on a flight to Rwanda before the election.

Here's Michael talking seriously to Plod about "ensuring that only that (sic) entitled to work here are doing so. The Government are (sic) determined to break the business model of the people smugglers,  but rogue employers and landlords threaten to undermine our efforts by encouraging illegal migration. Michael went to see for himself the work being done by law enforcement, to stop rogue employers from employing people illegally." Tomlinson's Website
His website also invites you to Volunteer with Michael (Honest, not Invent). It says: "Michael has a Parliamentary team to help him with casework, but much of the work done with an MP is done by volunteers. If you'd like to get involved please complete the form below. Even if the options below don't sound like anything you would be interested in, we need help doing all kinds of things so please get in touch! You'll always get a warm welcome - and even the odd cup of tea or coffee!"
There's an on-line form to complete, so don't hesitate if you'd like to help out Michael with his important work. Who knows, you might get to escort small boat illegals to Rwanda For Fuck's Sake and even get a cup of tea.

I'm still distressed by the death of Navalny, and so, it seems, is Baron Cameron of Chipping Norton, PC. Speaking as he attended the Munich Security Conference on Friday, Lord Cameron said: “We should hold Putin accountable for this, and no-one should be in any doubt about the dreadful nature of Putin’s regime in Russia after what has just happened.” He said there will be consequences for Putin. 
They are all at it - Sunak, Tugendhat, Yousaf, Davey, Starmer, it is clearly the thing to do, to speak rashly and intemperately and demand more sanctions. Since the last lot of sanctions were imposed, Russia's economy has grown, which is a damn sight more than ours has done. They won't be happy until the proxy war has been replaced by open warfare. Back to Baron Cameron, and mr ishmael's take on his abilities as a war leader: 

The War*lord of Chipping Sodom - 4/12/2015
* insert current war

Well, I would just say to  this house that as your prime minister and commander-in-chief it is my foremost duty to  start wars, wherever and whenever and upon whomever it whomever, whose ever?  upon whoandwhomsoever I can.  And thus invite retaliation, here, at home. Not exactly here, in the Palace of Westminster, sewn-up tighter'n  nun's knickers, this place, but generally, among people who travel on the buses, and walk down the streets.

Wosssat? Win them? Win the wars? Good God, no, we don't win them.  Didn't win in Egypt, did we; didn't win in Malaya,  certainly didn't win in Northern Ireland; Iraq, didn't win there. Afghanistan, we never, ever win there.  
Libya?  What's to win? 

And actually, d'you know what, none of these are actually our wars....whose are they?  Fucked if I know.  Israel's, America's ? We just tag along, so's not to be left out. But as the great Shakespeare said, They also serve, who only stand and lose. And that's what we do so well, lose. Lost in Ulster, lost in Iraq, lost magnificently in Afghanistan.  And do you know what, when I visit our servicemen and women abroad, that's what I say to them:  We can rely on you chaps to lose for us, and since that's what's gonna happen,  there's no point in the Chancellor spending good money on supplying you with proper gear, y'know, boots, that sort of thing, the right toothpaste, carrier air support, we needed that money for the bankers' bonuses.  I mean, lessbeclear, if it wasn't for the army you'd probly all be in Mrs May's young offender institutions.
As it is, keep your nose clean, lose your legs, and you might get to shake hands with Prince Harry Hooligan. Just the once, he's a busy man.
 And Syria, no, we haven't a snowball's chance in Hell. 
Not against hundreds of Russian Migs or whatever they are and hundreds of Uncle Sam's  stealth fighters  and attack helicopters and what have you.  No, no, they won't actually be shooting at our Spitfires and Hurricanes, not as such,  but there's always Friendly Fire, at which Uncle Sam is most proficient.  And Mr Putin does seem to have his arse in his hands, just because a few hundred of his citizens were blown out of the sky.  That's the thing, with the Russians.  I mean, the French, they lost far fewer citizens than were in the Russian aircraft and they're hardly making any fuss at all, are they? Apart from demanding that everybody join them in World War Three, which we are happy to do. Let me inform the house, it beats the arse, this WarLording,  off negotiating a new Euro-treaty. Not that we will,  because we can't, but a good world war'll take people's minds off that, I should think.

 But at the end of the day, as we used to say at Eton, it doesn't matter how you play the game as long as somebody else loses and the right people make a fortune. 
(cheers, Tory benches and some Labour benches  erupt in song, Give us Money, that's, whatwewant, that's whatwewant, that's what we wa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-nt, yeah, that's what we want .)

I mean, I simply say, Mr Tiny Speaker, in response to my honourable friends, that all of us in this house have had to make do with a miserly eleven per cent pay rise, whilst those whom we were quite proply elected to rule over are clamouring for what they call a living fucking wage, if you please. I hesitate to call that Treachery in Time of War but I shall, in a week or two. Older members may recall a previous prime minister, the Earl of Haliburton, who has been such an inspiration to us all, when he helped invade Iraq, he lost no time in calling the striking firefighters the Enemy Within.

Strikers?  Yes. Time of War, we can shoot them.
Doctors? Any bastard.
But yes, whether you win or lose doesn't matter because for a certain type of person it is simply impossible to lose.
I'm the cunt in charge of the Conservatives. 
Well, me and Mr Murdoch, and my dear neighbour in Chipping Sodom, Mrs Rebeka Witch. No, no, 'snot as if they want a war at the Sun, but it does always sell a few more copies.  Yes, that's right, the good people of Royal Wootton Gruesome, them, too.

But as to winning wars, things have moved on a bit, since the days of my namesake, Sir Winston Simple, and the point of wars, now, is that you don't win them.  I mean, take the War on Drugs.   We've been fighting that one since  Mrs President Reagan's astrologers invented it, having seen  Jupiter aligned with Mars or something, 
And that, Mr Tiny Speaker, Mrs Reagan's War on Drugs, is what you call a hugely successful failure of a war. Costs the fucking Earth and makes things worse. And yes, I assure the house, we can and indeed are  doing  just the same thing with Terror, and in my view quite proply. Spending a fucking fortune and making things much worse.

But joking aside this is a serious matter, the one facing our nation.  We face a truly great peril.  Yes, worse than what the Nazis were,  or would have been, if America had not won the Battle of Britain for us. And I do think that ISIL can help me beat the right honourable terrorist opposite, Sheikh bin Jeremy Corbyn, who, lessfaceit, is a Marxist traitor and the biggest threat ever faced by this great nation of England.  What? What about Scotland? I shouldn't worry about Scotland if I were you.  I don't.
Now, I am a great believer in my enemy's enemy being, what is it? My enemy, too? No?  Right. Of course, in my friend being my enemy. Yes, like Mr Clegg, whom I have never met. Yes, Mr Coulson too, he was my true friend and enemy. And I have never met him, either.

But no, the enemy are not overseas.  I mean is not are overseas.  He are at home, here, among us. And I can see how, proply handled, the gentlemen in ISIS could help us in our gravest battle, which is to beat the Labour party.  No, it's quite true, Mr Corbyn is a terrorist.  He has a beard, he doesn't take bribes, his expenses are a joke, hardly anything in fact, and he eats lentils, as I said.   Why would a member of this house, or indeed, the other place, who can eat whatever he wants, at no cost to anyone, apart from the taxpayers, why would anyone eat lentils instead of oysters, chateaubriand, asparagus and a decent Mouton Cadet Rothschild,
followed by a line or two snorted off the arse of some pretty young researcher, yes, of any gender? 
I mean, it's what people come into politics for.

I say to the house that this cowardly, underhanded Marxist vegetarianism simply beggars belief. I mean, what're animals for, if not for serving at the best tables? And that Comrade Corbyn is,  therefore,  a very real threat to national security.  Now, you ask for reliable intelligence, well, in my view it doesn't come any more reliable than that. By his own admission, Jeremy Corbyn is a lentil-eating,  bomb-throwing menace, a threat to the way of life of all six hundred of us, here. And what we really must do is encourage our many friends in the Labour party to destabilise him.
So, by declaring war on ISIS,  and causing division between him and the many jolly decent Tories in his party, say, the members for....well, most of them, actually,  we will succeed in defeating the terrorist sympathisers, all six hundred thousand of them, outside,  who have cynically joined this once-great party of ours  in the hope of making it a voice for ordinary, working, that is to say terrorist people.

I can honestly stand before this house and promise that a vote for  bombing wog babies guarantees that terrorism won't win in the Oldham election, I personally guarantee it.  
(cheers, applause,  shouts of: time for some bubbly)
We shall join a war with no end, just because it is the right thing to do, for the Conservative party, to which we all belong,  against whoever we say  is the enemy at the time.  In this case, Mr Corbyn, opposite.  A war which we shall never win. Why not? Well, because  it's just fucking stupid, that's why not.  Nobody can beat these fucking lunatics. Even thick people know that, like me and the govament.

I commend myself to the house and  I rest my face, I mean case.

More sardonic wit, political satire and biting cynicism from mr ishmael can be found in the four-volume Call Me Ishmael oeuvre, collected and curated 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.

Friday 16 February 2024



  • Russia’s prison agency says Navalny has died at the age of 47 while serving a 19-year sentence at the IK-3 Arctic prison colony. He “felt unwell” after a walk and “almost immediately lost consciousness” and died, it said. They really should have looked after him better. It will not play well.
  • IK-3 Kharp panorama 
That brave, beautiful, reckless man has not lived to see the spring.

Sir Karl Jenkins: Sakura, Spring Has Come

Sunday 11 February 2024

The Sunday Ishmael: 11/02/2024

 It is embarrassing, in the same way that hobble-de-hoys, trying to join in grown up conversation and impress their elders with their wit, are deeply, dreadfully embarrassing, their mothers pinning on a proud smile, while flushing unbecomingly brick red, as the pubescent son launches off-colour jokes and swear words that they have just discovered, and their fathers don a rictus grin, thinking, dear god, did I father that? What was I thinking of? Surely it is the product of a steamy afternoon liaison whilst I was away at the office?
It's embarrassing and nasty, vicious little jibes crafted by spads and apparatchiks, with the tribe baying, hooting and catcalling, jostling to hold their man's coat as he yells - there, your mother's a whore, and the leader of the opposing tribe shouts with equal gusto, so's your mammy, didn't I see her on the internet last night, having sex with a pig, at least it's honest work, not like you, you stinking gabshite? And his tribe laughing and gurning, there, got you. What you going to do about that?
It's undignified, the opposite of statesmanlike and nofuckingway to run a country. But it is the corner stone of Great British Parliamentary Democracy in the Mother of All Parliaments - public school boys writhing on the green benches, jeering, sneering and smirking, just like they learned in their expensive, exclusive and ancient "charitable" educational establishments. Wiki tells us that the now famous disorderly behaviour of MPs during PMQs first arose as a result of the personal animosity between Harold Wilson and Edward Heath; before this PMQs had been lively but comparatively civilised.
For our overseas readers and those UK readers who don't pay much attention, (and who can blame them), Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs, officially known as Questions to the Prime Minister,) is a constitutional convention in the United Kingdom, currently held as a single session every Wednesday at noon when the House of Commons is sitting, during which the prime minister answers questions from members of Parliament (MPs). The Institute for Government has described PMQs as "the most distinctive and internationally famous feature of British politics." The leader of the opposition asks six questions at PMQs, and the leader of the third largest parliamentary party asks two questions. It is all a bit of a game, with everyone taking their turn to be rude, kicked off by the first formal question on the Order Paper, posed by simply saying "number one, Mr [Madam] Speaker",  to ask the prime minister "if he [she] will list his [her] engagements for the day". The prime minister  replies: "This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today."
The reason for such a ridiculous format is that, historically, the prime minister may be questioned only as to those matters that (s)he is directly responsible for. These are relatively few in number, because most stuff falls into the purview of other Cabinet ministers. By requiring the prime minister to list his/her engagements, the follow up question is ought the prime minister be engaged in some other activity or be taking some other action. Or, in the common parlance, all hell breaks loose. As mr ishmael put it:
"fawned-upon, pampered, dishonest as the day is long, these two chancers swing handbags at each other as each milks the dead for all they are worth".
And that's what happened this Wednesday, with Starmer turning Sunak's personal jibe about his uncertainty about defining what a woman is (an adult female of the human species) into mockery of the 16 year old trans girl, Brianna Ghey, dead at the hands of her two 15 year old chums, whilst - you couldn't make this stuff up - her mother was visiting the Chamber, in pursuit of her personal crusade to get something done about all this. (see The Sunday Ishmael 4/02/2024). She's probably about to be sainted, Esther Ghey, as the media falls over itself to praise her cool intelligence, her quiet composure and her nose ring, her determination to make a public figure of herself instead of staying home quietly grieving, then getting on with the rest of her life.
So, sucks to Rishi, with his tin ear for what is allowable, even in the bear pit of PMQs, but I really wanted to slap Starmer, up on his high horse, with his "I can't believe you said that, with Saint Esther in the gallery."
Sunak is refusing to back down and say sorry, just sticking to his line of that's what we do, in the Mother of all Parliaments, insult each other every Wednesday. Great Tradition.
Compounding his foolishness, the skinny (he fasts for 36 hours every Sunday through to Tuesday) Leader of our Great Nation, had just taken a bet with Piers Morgan, on television - a thousand pounds says you won't get illegal immigrants extradited to Rwanda before the election. Rwanda, the UK Government asseverates, is a safe country because "most alleged human rights violations" are against its own nationals who criticise the government. Like journalist Dieudonne Niyonsenga, who was acquitted in the Rwandan courts of fraud, illegally impersonating a journalist and obstructing public works, but retried following the Rwandan Government appeal and found guilty on all charges and a fresh one of "humiliating state officials" and jailed for seven years, where he is held in solitary confinement and beaten daily.
It's not that Morgan is a giant - although he is what we used to call "a well-made man" - Rishi really is that tiny, his sweet little braceleted hand lost in Morgan's man-sized fist, as they shake on a really bad-taste bet that simultaneously revealed Sunak's contempt for the migrants and his own vast riches in which a £1000 bet is no more than a lottery ticket is for most folk. I don't do betting - apart from a brief addiction to those penny fruit machines at Blackpool when I was a kiddie about a hundred years ago -
and neither, little Rishi swears, does he. Gambling that is. Unfortunately for him, the BBC has unearthed a clip of him in an interview on the BBC's Test Match Special podcast in July last year, saying spread-betting was "great" and gushing about spending a summer gambling on the cricket.
He really should eat something. I swear he's shrinking. He's about the size of the Dwarf Zelensky now:
and we know Zelensky's diminutive proportions:
That brings me round to Tucker Carlson's interview of Putin. Did you see it? I saw some highlights - I skipped the history lesson on mediaeval Russia, although I'm sure it was most informative. I appreciated Putin's reassurance that he was not going to embark on global thermonuclear war, and kinda believed him when he said that Boris Johnson had scuppered the peace deal negotiations with Ukraine - it was the way he held his finger and thumb about an inch apart when he described the size of the peace document - that had the ring of truth. I can also believe that Johnson would have wanted to torpedo a peace deal - after all, it was his war, he was doing well out of it in the popularity stakes. From my half-remembered history lessons I was sure that there had been a War of Johnson's Ear, which would have been nice. Unfortunately, it turns out to have been called the War of Jenkins' Ear, referring to Robert Jenkins, captain of the British brig Rebecca. Apparently, Jenkins' ear was sliced off by Spanish coast guards while searching his ship for contraband in 1731. Nobody bothered too much about this, apart from Captain Jenkins, until, some seven years later, the incident was used to incite support for a war against Spain in order to improve British trade in the Caribbean, including retaining
the lucrative Asiento de Negros giving British slave traders permission to sell slaves in Spanish America. Has it occurred to anyone else that we were born into the wrong side?
Tucker Carlson, thrilled to be in Moscow and interviewing the great Putin, was a little uncomfortable, but Putin took pains to set him at his ease with a joke or two. When Carlson asked "who bombed Nordstream?" Putin looked him in the eye and said "you did". No, really, has it occurred to anyone else that we were born into the wrong side?
Talking of dastardly politicians, which we always are, I saw Vice this week. It is described as an American biographical political satire comedy-drama film. Which is a bit like Polonius' comment, in Hamlet: " tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral". 
Directed, written, and produced by Adam McKay, the film follows Dick Cheney on his path to becoming the most powerful vice president in American history and the exploiter of the "theory of the unitary executive" - the theory says the president has ultimate control over the executive branch. So, basically he can do what he wants. As CEO of Haliburton (the world's second largest oil service company), from 1995 to 2000, both Cheney and Haliburton did rather well out of the Gulf War. Cheney retired from Haliburton during the 2000 U.S. presidential election campaign with a severance package worth $36 million. As of 2004, he had received $398,548 in deferred compensation from Halliburton while Vice President. He has received stock options from Halliburton.
The film tells us that Cheney's actions lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq, extraordinary rendition, torture and Guantanamo. Cheney is impersonated by Christian Bale, in a fat suit and facial prostheses. Highly recommended, if you don't mind being extraordinarily rendered into a state of impotent fury and the certainty that we were born into the wrong side. You can catch it on i-player, if you are quick.
Here's a fun story that isn't a fun story at all - Scottish Poetry Library's Deputy Director Ali Barr used the Bard chatbot to compile a list of Scottish poetry books published in 2023.  Bard's list contained 12 books, complete with descriptors - for example Kevin Williamson's The House of the Fox "a dark and atmospheric collection of poems that explores themes of alienation, violence and the human condition", and What the Sea Gives by Alan Riach "a collection of poems that explores themes of nature, memory and the Scottish landscape" . Ali Barr wanted to read them, but unfortunately, Bard had made them all up, including titles and descriptors. Only seven of the twelve authors named are real Scottish poets. Barr should have asked Bard to write the poems whilst he/it was in the zone.
Sardonic wit, political satire and biting cynicism from mr ishmael can be found in the four-volume Call Me Ishmael oeuvre, collected and curated 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.

Friday 9 February 2024

Evensong: The Weary Blues, Joan Armatrading

 Having wrestled the wheelie bin of shame (empty bottles) over ice-crusted snow globs and then gone  back for the bin of plastic containers, slipping and skidding on the bits where the snow had melted then frozen into ice slides, because Radio Orkney had assured me the Refuse Collectors would be out today despite having been missing in action for over a week - the chaps had been reassigned to  snow shifting duties - much more fun, scooping up great swathes of the white stuff in the heavy equipment, and, I swear they must have had a snow blower on the job at one stage judging by some of the walls of snow - anyway, I was rewarding myself with a sit down, a glance through this month's issue of Apollo and a cup of tea. I was distracted and dismayed by the reproduction of the silver albumen photograph of three Women from Xiamen by Lai Fong (1839-1890)
Women as decorative collectable objects, unable to walk away, let alone run, on those tiny, crippled, bound feet. They couldn't have wrestled the wheelie bin of shame to the bin collection point. I read a searing account of a servant with healthy whole feet bringing a bowl of warm, rose-scented water to her mistress, together with fresh bindings, then withdrawing to give her lady privacy to unbind, wash and treat her deformed feet, while keeping herself away from the odour of those rotting feet. I hope it was made up. 
I became aware of something rather marvellous being played on Radio Four's Desert Island Discs. The castaway was Val Wilmer, writer and photographer, born 1941. She has photographed and interviewed significant musicians, including this portrait of Louis Armstrong, made in 1965 and now in the V. and A.:
Her photographs are held in the collections of the V&A and the National Portrait Gallery. She is also a journalist and author: her book As Serious As Your Life examines the evolution of free jazz within the wider context of racial and sexual politics. 
Her playlist for Desert Island Discs was exquisite:  
Potato Head Blues - Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven 
Black, Brown And White - Big Bill Broonzy 
Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8 -  By Kodaly, First movement performed by Janos Starker 
The Weary Blues – Langston Hughes 
My Lovely Elizabeth - S.E. Rogie 
Criss Cross - Thelonious Monk 
Dogon A D - Julius Hemphill 
Love and Affection - Joan Armatrading
 Here's Weary Blues:
I like this version of Langston Hughes' poem, recited by Allen Dwight Callahan, with Groovy Drums composed by Umberto Pagnini and ST James Infirmary composed by Paul Lenart and Bill Novick. The mad footage is taken from Moon Over Harlem - Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and Rhythm & Blues Revue - Directed by Joseph Kohn and Leonard Reed; and evokes the Harlem Renaissance - an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theatre, politics and scholarship centered in HarlemManhattan, New York City, spanning the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after The New Negro, a 1925 anthology edited by Alain Locke.
Langston Hughes (1901- 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was an early developer of the literary art form called jazz poetry, and a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. Both of his paternal great-grandmothers were enslaved African Americans while both of his paternal great-grandfathers were white slave owners. He was raised by his grandmother, who was, unusually, a college graduate. Of his childhood, he wrote: "I was unhappy for a long time, and very lonesome, living with my grandmother. Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books - where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas."
Hughes wrote about the struggles and joys of working-class blacks in America.

Joan Armatrading's Love and Affection could underscore the conversation I had with mr bungalow bill on last Sunday's Ishmael. Love, not sex. Raised, but not born, in Birmingham in the West Midlands, Joan's music is influenced by rock, folk, jazz, blues, soul, and reggae. Her songs have been described as "some of the most deeply personal and emotionally naked ... of our times". In a 2003 interview, she said: "My songs aren't about me at all. They're always about love, the pain and anguish of it."

"Man's love is of man's life a thing apart,
'Tis woman's whole existence."
Lord Byron, Don Juan, canto 1, st.194

Armatrading's voice is a rich, perfectly controlled contralto. mr ishmael had her albums.

Should you wish to listen to Val Wilmer's Desert Island Discs, it is available on BBC Sounds for the next 22 days: Desert Island Discs - Val Wilmer, writer and photographer - BBC Sounds

Anyway, Radio Orkney was right - the bin men have collected my recycling and I must battle out to retrieve my wheelie bins before the storm takes them to Norway.

Sunday 4 February 2024

The Sunday Ishmael: 4/02/24

 I've stayed in Orkney for more than two decades, and during that time my home has never been burgled, nothing has been stolen from my person, I have never been physically attacked, let alone murdered by children. This is not because Orkney is a particularly safe place - it has its share of crimes of violence and acquisition. It is more the result of my anonymity, the middle class safety of my home's location, and because I don't go where the wild things are. It is so much hot air and sweet Fanny Adams to say the streets should be safe for women to walk at any time of day or night wearing whatever they choose to express their personality and sexuality. The truth is that they are not, probably never will be, given the nature of the human race, and it's best not to put yourself in harm's way. 
Human nature is not noble, but its worst excesses can be encouraged or discouraged. Society can be structured to reduce both motivation to prey on one's fellow humans and the opportunity to do so. A century or so ago the measures to enforce desirable behaviour weren't kind or pretty: religion threatened eternal torment, female sexual transgression was punished by stigma and banishment, their children designated bastards, murderers  executed. Even these harsh measures were ineffective, as  Dr. Lucy Lisp gloatingly tells us  about Victorian female killers. 

Dr Lucy Lisp, Keeper of the Royal Knocking Shops and media tart, is happiest 
posing for the nation in a bath or laced-up in a Georgian corset, pouting and lisping her crass arty histories at us, a pseudo-scholarly telly trollop, ghastly little stoat.

Hi, big boy,
I'm Doctor Lucy, buy me.  No business like showbusiness.  (mr ishmael 6/05/2015)

But to abandon any attempt to socialise our young by internalising  morality just because we have fallen out with religion, "traditional values" and believe it is okay for women to enjoy sex, has not been the best idea we've ever had. Instead, we have created a bear-pit for ourselves, a competitive, envious, avaricious, self-indulgent hell of gratified impulse, pandered by the Dark Lords of the Internet, who will service any grotesque desire, as long as there's money to be made. Most of us can deal with it, fairly unscathed - okay, I buy too much, my garage is piled high with Amazon cardboard and I haven't got enough life left to read all the books on my Kindle, but I haven't murdered anyone. However, the young, the vulnerable, the insecure, the neuro-divergent - well, it's a different matter there. Takes us into the fevered atmosphere of the 1960 trial of  D. H. Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover for being obscene under British law,  citing the informal precedent of “variable obscenity,” which held that obscene books should be kept out of the hands of children, women, and the working classes, who were all susceptible to works likely to “deprave or corrupt” - unlike upper-middle-class male readers. The prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, who had represented the British at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, asked the jury, “Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or servants to read?” In response, members of the jury broke out in laughter. Three of the jurors were women. The jury pool also included a cross-section of workers, including teachers, dockworkers, drivers, and salesmen. It was unlikely that any of them employed live-in domestic servants. 
Sixty-four years later, anyone in possession of a mobile phone can read anything, look at anything, incite suicide, violence or murder, order their drugs or court notoriety by posting videos of themselves on TikTok miming and dancing to popular songs. Brianna Ghey was a 16-year-old, born male and living as a girl, who had a strong internet presence and promoted a transgender life, assisting younger children to access hormone replacement therapy.  She had many more followers than this blog attracts - variously reported as 11,000, 31,000  or  63,000. Lots, anyway. In February last year she was killed by her two 15 year old chums, Scarlett Jenkinson  
and Eddie Ratcliffe in a planned knife attack. Eddie is autistic and a selective mute. 
Despite his facial hair, he looks very young and vulnerable. Each has blamed the other for the knife work on Brianna. Both have been found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum tariff of 22 years for Scarlett and 20 years for Eddie. That's three kids with their lives lost or ruined. Brianna's mum is firm in her belief that it was the internet and its dark delights that turned Scarlett and Eddie into conspirators and caused Brianna to lose her life at their hands and she is now campaigning for a change in the law to prevent youngsters from having legal access to phones with full internet capability. It would have to be a global change in the law, of course. Can't see it happening, myself, however desirable it might be. Pandora's box has been opened and that's that.
This is terribly troubling. And what is that Mrs Justice Yip doing, releasing their names? Either they should be treated as children, or not. She said members of the public would want to know the identities of Brianna's killers 'as they seek to understand how children could do something so dreadful'. Bollocks. The public interest is not the same thing as the public being interested in something. There's a great deal of murder by young people under the age of 18 these days. It is not rare. This case has received the publicity it has because of the transgender element, which is terrifically fashionable. 
I also take issue with the description of these three as children. The word conjures up for me images of pre-pubertal kiddies. We need another term in law for people who are post pubertal, but not yet legally adult. Youth would do.
mr ishmael would have had no difficulty in recognising this situation as a predictable development: 

Living in the Shitegeist: August 2009

Twitter is a mystery to me. Seems like some form of digitised narcissism. Twittering is what Arts correspondents do, Kirsty Wark and Paul Morley and Germaine Greer, twitter-twitter, any old frothy, pretentious bollocks, just as long as they get paid. Who would want to be a twitterer ? No, really, have you seen Paul Morley ?

Facebook, too, don't know what it is, don't want to; i-things, don't know, blackberry, that, too. Not a thing to admit to in decent company but I don't have a mobile phone. There is no special virtue in this abstinence but neither is it being Luddite - although the Luddites had some socio-economic validity to their opposition, an early manifestation of It's not the economy, Stupid - I have some IT stuff, enough. This non-engagement with the latest IT wheeze is, though, a sort of discernment, a resistance. I would jump in my car tomorrow, even with its world-famous sticky automatic transmission, and drive to Moscow or Kathmandu, having managed all these years without satnav. Genghis Kahn did it and he was on horseback. It is in our nature to cultivate a sense of direction, or we could look at the Sun, or we could ask someone for directions, do some of that communicating shit that we're so good at. Satnav is an infantilisation too far, like Fatboy Jerry Clarkson and his simile-generating engine - this car is soooo fast that your hair'll catch fire, this car is soooo extraordinary that you'll want to own one, only you can't afford one, but I can, it's for big boys, see. My ancestors - and yours - sailed the world in paper boats, what the fuck do I want with satnav?

His Holy Grumpiness, my Highlands neighbour, Mr Bob Dylan, in one if his interviews of epic grievance, remarked that Aaah-Wontsa-Pohna-Time, if people wanted the sound of a handclap on a pop record they'd run up to the 'mic and clap their fucking hands, like decent Christian or in his case, artistically pantheistic people should, fucking self-indulgent idiot, one minute at the Wailing Wall, the next at the Vatican; nowadays, there's a button on the keyboard marked "handclap." What is the point of that ? Bob's rock'n'roll credentials may be as counterfeit as much - but by no means all - of his output, indeed, given his endlessly tedious Western Swing Rockabilly it is difficult and painful to recall that he authored Highway 61 Revisited (and should in all decency, therefore, shut the fuck up with his cheesy gnomic whining, vain, silly old fart) but he was right enough in being dismayed by the digitisation of everything, even spontaneity, by GlobaMusic; it's the human handclap for me, too. But not the Stetson.
It is as though we do this shit without even thinking Do we want to ? but just because some nerd lacking a proper job has dreamed it up. - A sitemeter, for instance, counts the visits to this cyberplace, it logs the duration of and the geographical location of visitors. I don't know how it works, some instrument of Satan. I looked at it for a couple of weeks and found that it influenced what I wrote, as though I was the CEO of a global dissent corporation; Hmmm. things are a bit quiet in Malaysia this week, maybe do a piece about pineapples, or rubber. I now take a quick peek every couple of weeks, just to get an idea of how many people read this stuff, there is no analysis beyond that and actually I should disable it altogether, lest I be tempted. It wouldn't ever occur to me, though, that I should make it public, have it running down the side of the page, somebody has just come on and is from such-and-such a place and the last site he was looking at was so-and-so; what on Earth is that about? If someone signs their name and address in a comment, that's one thing, although no-one ever does but to have a piece of software identifying the reader's location and last-visited site is an impertinence worthy of government, isn't it, creepy, entirely contrary to the supposed anonymous nature of cyberworld, a staggering impudence, an overwhelming conceit. Not only is Big Brother watching you on behalf of the government, he is watching you on behalf of me, the Mighty Libertarian Blogger, look, that's you, City of London, or Frome, Somerset, down the side there; you can post but you can't hide, cheeky fucking bastard.

Some, of course, measure their hits as though they were their cock and the publication of site spymeters information just a form of exhibitionism, the IT-flasher, so to speak, but even that is wholly perverse, unsavoury, bragadaccio compounding an ever-indignant scattergun demagoguery, almost, actually, like a party political broadcast, innit, by some crypto-fascist grouping, it's all the wogs' fault, if there weren't any wogs we'd have decent politicians, seem to be the fatuous Chimes of Freedom, tolling through much of bloggery, the bedrock of much of this sort of stuff, wogs out, that's the thing, just watch how that ushers-in a new dawn of respectable and representative politics. Or maybe not.

In his problematic 2017 essay Say Cheese!, in which mr ishmael argues that it is impossible for the State to suppress home-made revenge pornography, and furthermore, it should not attempt to do so, that everyone should just accept the consequences of their own foolish actions, even if those actions were undertaken as teenagers, he writes: If anyone had ever asked me what pubescent teenagers - boys and girls - would do with 'phone cameras this is exactly what I would have predicted.  Because that's exactly what I would've done.
Born too late, me.

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.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - Revelation 6

War, Famine, Pestilence and Death
Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, "Come." I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come." And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from Earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.
When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the Earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the Earth.When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; but do not damage the oil and the wine."