Thursday, 16 August 2018

Which newspaper is best -

- for cleaning the car windscreen?

As we know, a ball of newspaper is quite good for cleaning the inside of a car windscreen. This morning I used a sheet from an old copy of the Daily Telegraph probably acquired last year as packing material, but there are only one or two sheets left and these days we do not receive a free newspaper to replace it.

Problems, problems.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

I'm not surprised

A few weeks ago a section of road on our school run turned wet and stayed wet. This was during the summer heat wave which seems to have disappeared now, so the cause was rather obvious - a leaking water main under the road.

The water company duly set up traffic lights, dug a large hole in the road, left it for about a week, did some work, filled in the hole, took away the traffic lights and cleared off. Hooray!

Unfortunately the same section of road turned wet again and stayed wet again. still during the summer heat wave so the cause was even more obvious - the leaking water main under the road was still leaking.

The water company duly set up traffic lights, dug a large hole in the road, left it for about a week, did some work, filled in the hole, took away the traffic lights and cleared off. Hooray again!

Unfortunately the same section of road on our school run turned wet yet again so the cause was super duper obvious - the leaking water main under the road was still leaking.

It was still leaking yesterday.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

The great political talent drought


One of the great changes in my life has been the demise of political talent. It's a blogging problem - a hell of a blogging problem. It may be easy enough to write another post about Jeremy Corbyn, but therein lies the core difficulty – the man is just too ridiculous. Even a modicum of talent can be interesting, but no talent at all, not a single crumb of it – that’s hard going when it comes to generating interest.

I suppose a chap could make things up as the mainstream media so often do. Maybe write about Mr Corbyn’s career as a medium who specialises in contacting dead uncles. That might be interesting, but Mr Corbyn is so dull that the idea is bound to flounder. Improbable untruths sometimes do that - flounder. Look at climate change.

Yet how on earth does one write about a major political figure such as Corbyn when he has such obvious failings? His lack of flexibility, his absurd dependence on facile ideology, his risible choice of political cronies – ghastly creatures such as Diane Abbott, John McDonnell. How does one write about such absurdities? There is little value in pointing out that they are indeed absurd. No rational person is likely to overlook that.

Oh well – the spuds are boiling and the asparagus needs preparing . At least food is interesting. Asparagus makes your urine smell but some people can't smell it. Now that is interesting.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Ghosts on the shore

Christopher Harding has an interesting piece in Aeon. His subject is Japanese ghosts, their complex relationship to modern life and what they might have to say about modern secular cultures.

It was a moonlit night in early summer, about a year on from the great tsunami. As waves broke gently on a beach half-obscured in fog, Fukuji could just about make out two people walking along: a woman and a man.

Fukuji frowned. The woman was definitely his wife.

He called out her name. She turned, and smiled. Fukuji now saw who the man was, too. He had been in love with Fukuji’s wife before Fukuji had married her. Both had died in the tsunami.

Fukuji’s wife called to him, over her shoulder: ‘I am married now, to this man.’

‘But don’t you love your children?’ Fukuji cried out in reply. His wife paused at that, and began to sob.

Fukuji looked sadly at his feet for a moment, not knowing what more to say. When he looked up, the woman and the man had drifted away.

From Tōno Monogatari or Legends of Tōno (1910) by Kunio Yanagita, author’s translation

This is a true story. Or so the man who wrote it down wanted his readers to believe. Kunio Yanagita was one of Japan’s first folklorists. He collected such tales from the village of Tōno in Japan’s northeastern Tōhoku region, publishing them as the Legends of Tōno in 1910. His hope was to rekindle in the inhabitants of big, modern cities such as Tokyo and Osaka the feel of nature’s mystery and magic – the unknowns of the world – which, Yanagita worried, these people had of late begun to lose, mislaying it amid the noise and smog and reassuring distractions of urban life.

Not usually my kind of perspective, but I certainly found myself wondering why that might be.  The whole piece is well worth reading. This gem for example.

Yanagita, for his part, was at pains to point out at the beginning of his Legends that he had recorded stories such as Fukuji’s exactly as he had ‘felt’ them. This, he hoped, would be a means of preserving and transmitting around Japan something of the way that the people of Tōno experienced life: as yet untouched, or untainted, by gakusha kusai koto, or things that ‘stink of the [modern] scholar’.

Things that stink of the modern scholar - who doesn't know that aroma?

Friday, 10 August 2018

No apology is required

I see Rowan Atkinson has defended the right of Boris Johnson to make jokes about the burka

Rowan Atkinson has defended Boris Johnson after his controversial comments about women wearing burkas.

The actor, known for his comedy performances in Mr Bean and Blackadder, said the remarks were funny.

Atkinson wrote in a letter to The Times: "As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson's joke about wearers of the burka resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one."

He added: "All jokes about religion cause offence, so it's pointless apologising for them.

"You should really only apologise for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required."

I suspect a huge number of people would agree with Mr Atkinson - no apology is required. Away from the mainstream media there are numerous jokes and visual lampoons concerning the burka. One would have to live in a light-proof tent not to know that.

The whole fracas is yet another embarrassing example of establishment grovelling in the face of blatant special pleading by politically favoured minorities. Special pleading for what? For unequal treatment ironically enough.

A longer running and more pleasing joke is the inability of feminists to join in. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Mad as a box of frogs

Yesterday we visited Burghley House as it was too hot to do much in the open air. An interesting place but towards the end Mrs H and I gazed up at this painted ceiling for a while, both of us consumed by something which was not admiration. From the guide book

The Hell Staircase

The ceiling of this dark and lofty staircase was painted by Verrio as his last commission at Burghley. Sadly by the time he made this contract, he was heavily in debt and was unable to retain his assistants who drifted away to more financially secure projects. Working mainly alone, this ceiling took 11 months to complete. It shows the mouth of Hell as the enormous gaping mouth of a cat and countless souls in torment within.

Mrs H and I had pretty much the same reaction – mad as a box of frogs.