Monday, 29 November 2010

To Henry and Edna, a son

I was THIS close to being taken in by a letter in last Friday’s Manx Indie.
One John Eoin Douglas, of Edinburgh, wrote to congratulate South Africa in supporting a recent UN vote to remove sexual orientation from a resolution calling on countries to protect the life of all people and to investigate extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions that are motivated by prejudice and discrimination.
Mr Douglas went on to opine:
“It would seem that South African politicians have finally realised that appeasing the homosexualist lobby and accepting this perversion has led to many of the current fractures and ills in their society. In addition to removing favourable treatment for homosexuals from their Constitution, perhaps they will now also get round to reversing their 1961 adoption of Decimal Currency which most right thinking people see as the start of the slippery slope to untramelled liberalism.”
Which had me both amused and completely bemused.
Was this guy for real? He wouldn’t be the maddest Brit to write to the Manx press in vague hope of putting a paranoid delusion into print, so it was hard to be sure. On the other hand, I was sure I’d seen that name before somewhere….
Eventually, I asked Garry Otton, writer of Scottish Media Monitor and author of Sexual Fascism, the book which names and shames every scumbag involved in the attempts to spread homophobia and retain Section 28 in Scotland. If anyone knew this character, it would be Garry, who let me in on a running joke I just have to share.
High culture satire fans will remember William Donaldson’s Henry Root Letters, in which Donaldson’s alter-ego wrote to the great and the good with wild suggestions, and subsequently collected both the letters and their replies in a best-selling book.
But in Prick Up YourEars, John Lahr’s biography of the common as muck and twice as shameless queer playwright Joe Orton, we can read about Edna Welthorpe, a snobbish lady literary critic whose bizarre opinions dotted the letter pages of the regional press, and who later concentrated her spleen on Orton’s plays. Orton, a prankster whose many other hilarious outrages fill the first half of the book, WAS Edna Welthorpe.
So, ladies and gentlemen, before anyone writes to the Indie, may I refer you all to the long lost funny bastard son of Henry Root and Edna Welthorpe,whose collected letters to many uptight publications who really ought to know better may be found at .

Saturday, 27 November 2010

11,510 self-pitying losers, and still rising

Christian self-pity has plumbed new depths in the UK with the launch of Not Ashamed, a campaign run by CCFON (Christian Concern For Our Nation) and CLC (Christian Legal Centre) the UK’s two leading merchants of theo-fascist codswallop, underwritten by even battier Yanks. If I tell you, for example, that one of CCFON’s ‘partners’ is Oral Roberts University, a private US college run by fundies where graduates accept endtimer and creationist twaddle that shouldn’t even fool a UK 10 year old, you have some idea what manner of foolishness we’re dealing with.
It was the Reverend Doctor Peter Hearty, who runs Platitude of The Day (see Fave Sites & Fellow Travellers list) who spotted the link at a peek, and try not to die laughing.
11,510 whining bigots as of the time of writing this, and the campaign doesn’t even launch officially until December 1st. It makes a belief in transubstantiation look almost rational by comparison.
All the usual suspects are lined up. If you ever wanted to know “where do clapped out professional bible-bashers go, when even the nitwits who employ them decide they’re totally senile and/or crackers”, you now have an answer.
I only know of one open Manx link to the CCFON, though knowing the depths to which Manx fundie asinity can plunge I don’t doubt other twonks will be quietly affiliated. Friends and Heroes, the biblically bolloxed cartoon made (or at least reproduced) here in Ramsey got the one and only ‘award’ it will ever see from a CCFON front group, which acts as a sort of marketing agency for Christian/family values media morons.
Frankly, the fairy tale view of Christian 'persecution' fabricated by Not Ashamed , and the bonkers characters involved, would probably be too far fetched for even kiddie cartoons. Though I probably shouldn't propose it in case some numpty fundie tries anyway.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Who guards the guards?

I had to laugh at this report (see of a building on Homefield Road having 20 windows smashed some time “between Friday, November 19, and Tuesday, November 23”, apparently without anyone noticing.
The thing is, I can only think of one large building on that road which is set back enough from the road for anyone to smash that many windows without either the racket alerting the neighbours or the glass covering enough of the main road to bring traffic to a standstill.
That would be the Department of Home Affairs offices.
So, in addition to demonstrating what the Great Manx Public really thinks about those who misrun our police and prison services, this incident also suggests that there’s not much work going on there. Either that or the civil servants and self-selecting advisory committees who claim to be ensuring we can sleep safely at nights are deaf and blind.
I’d suggest they need a decent Neighbourhood Watch scheme, except that the last time I looked the Manx Crimestoppers project was effectively under the thumb of Group 4 Security, which many suggest obtains more money under false pretences from the court and prison services (and therefore the public) than 'official' criminal types would dare to in their wildest dreams.

Sunday, 21 November 2010


It was time for the family to dip another tentative toe into the Manx cultural backwater today.
We’d promised to take an elderly friend to a concert at the Villa Marina. She’s German, so in Ramsey she might as well be from Mars. Her Indoors and The Prodigy seem to attract such folk, and usually they’ve had interesting lives and can broaden my daughter’s experience of the world, so it’s no hassle spending a few hours a week with them.
So, it all seemed harmless enough – a French themed afternoon with noise provided by the imposingly entitled Isle of Man Symphony Orchestra, and matching movement from local dance schools.
After jumping up and down for two national anthems (Manx and French), with most of the audience badly miming words to the Manx for fear of losing their benefits and warbling by a minor celebrity soprano impressionist to guide us through the French, the racket started in earnest.
To be honest, I wish it hadn’t, but not half as much as I wish they’d tuned up before the concert started (rather than after the third item, when it seems to have first dawned on the players) or that they’d invest in a metronome.
Curiously, playing or singing in time seems to be a common problem for Manx musical ensembles: maybe Traa Dy Liooar (Manx Gaelic for ‘Wait until tomorrow’) applies to music as well as (non-) working practices.
For the second item one of the dance groups took to the stage. I’m guessing this may have been planned to divert attention away from the bum notes of the orchestra; unfortunately a bunch of plump farm girls crashing round a stage like so many heifers in tutus doesn’t really cut it either. At least at Young Farmer shows the comedy is intentional.
By this stage our elderly friend was humming along happily enough while we three were biting the backs of the seats in front to stop laughing. And it got worse.
The final item of the first half was a Ravel violin solo where, for some reason, Ravel chose to mimic gypsy violin tunes without actually incorporating any. Don’t ask me why; maybe he was just another Gallic racist who ripped off others without a tenth of the original’s flair.
An item like this is always going to be a problem to this family. In Hungary, so many gypsies can play that Csardas thing before they can walk that they’d have to stand on their heads and juggle chainsaws at the same time before punters would pay to listen.
So, admitted, bar a little high here and I don’t care if today’s soloist did study at the Royal Northern. In Budapest, if I threw a stick, any gypsy kid I hit would have made him look just what he was; a musician who hadn’t practiced the solo and didn’t think the audience would notice.
It was the one time in the gig I got genuinely annoyed (rather than highly amused) at the breath-taking arrogance of some local musos, and I wasn’t the only one. A Polish couple in front we’d got talking to turned and raised ironic eyebrows: an orthodox Jewish guy in the row behind actually had his head almost in his lap and his hands over his ears.
Then it was the interval, and yet again my daughter and I experienced the inadequate Villa catering facilities for all except alcoholics as we queued for ice cream, only for yet another bunch of well heeled geriatric gobshites to push in after we’d been there 15 minutes.
So, another important lesson for a small Manx kid. Doesn’t matter how old or how rich they are, the Manx ‘great and good’ have far worse manners than any sink estate five year old, though if other locals weren’t willing to be used like so much human bog-roll they’d have sorted it out years ago instead of voting such pondlife into office.
There was a part two to the concert, though we slept through most of that too. A Saint-Saens symphony which finally provided a chance to utilise the Villa’s most expensive white elephant, a church organ.
You’ve probably never heard it (the symphony,though no-one’s ever heard the organ either as it has a far from adequate amplification system), but it might be described as an entire orchestra fannying about like a French waiter for 15 minutes before the organist butts in with the theme tune from Babe.
After it all stopped, they handed out flowers to every muso and clodhopper in sight and the audience ran for it before the cheeky sods could sit down and start an encore. Apparently there was a guest of honour from the French consulate, so I hope this doesn’t cause a diplomatic incident.
Luckily, Manx ice cream is also great, so with luck there won’t be tears before bedtime. And after today she won’t be half as stressed about her violin progress either.

Not dead, just indolent

In case anyone was seriously worried, no, I’m not dead, and no, I haven’t given up blogging.
Just been a busy month with other things, and others had more need of my time or this computer.
Still, I should at least give a plug to the inaugural meeting of a Manx dying with dignity group. Following a well attended talk by a Death with Dignity speaker a couple of months back(hosted by the Political Action Group) around 20 folk showed enough interest to take things further.
Things get started at the small meeting room of the Archibald Knox, Onchan, on Thursday 2nd December at 2.30. That’s the flashy pub behind Onchan Shoprite if you don’t know the area, and so, yes, there’s adequate parking space next door to the venue. Quintin Gill, who was one of two MHKs behind the Tynwald committee which reported on similar matters a few years back, has agreed to speak on where things are at present.
As the organisers readily admit, not the best time for all who might like to get involved, but it’s a start. Look out for press reports, and if they’re not as full as they should be, I’ll do my best to fill in some gaps here.