Saturday, 28 April 2012

Turning a crisis into a cash cow

Stripped of legalese, what it means is that the daughter of the only Manxman ever to win a Victoria Cross cannot prevent rubbernecking ‘nature lovers’ pressing their noses up against her windows under the pretext of observing local wildlife. This is really a bad joke, considering such peeping toms are more of a freak of nature than any known wildlife, and get way more public subsidy than the endangered species that dwell in Sites of Specific Scientific Interest around Langness. Bit of a mystery how these freaks breed in the first place really, given that most seem to be of indeterminable gender or age (though all are startlingly bearded and/or otherwise hirsute) and with drab plumage which biologists would agree should repel rather than attract a mate.
As I have mentioned before, I once worked down the road from the cottages, and two workmates were sons of the last lighthouse-keeper, so I know the inside of the cottages, the footpaths and the Bennies (as we nicknamed them) who troll there quite well. So, I have no doubt that (a) there is no need for walkers to go so close to the window (b) the action of the Bennies is deliberately intrusive (c) many are so trapped in a deluded little bubble that they are mentally incapable of understanding that they have duties or that others have rights (in fact there are valid arguments as to why they should not be allowed in a public place without competent adult supervision) but (d) that any court or legal proceeding staffed by objective, capable professionals would be able to find a way through this which allowed decently minded nature lovers to wander around enjoying themselves without the Clarksons having to sit at home with drawn curtains all day. Sadly, the Manx legal system is the last refuge (outside politics and the civil service) of rich, self-serving thickos who would otherwise be begging in the streets, so common sense or justice were never options open to the Clarksons.
Which leaves them with a dilemma – what to do next?
If I was them I would consider turning the tables on the Bennies.
The thing is, when I first encountered examples of this species in the early 1980’s, it struck me I had not seen any offshoot of Homo Sapiens so odd since nursing patients stricken with GPI (General Paralysis of the Insane) in Devon back in the last decade of the Victorian asylums.
GPI was not, strictly speaking, a medical analysis. It was a polite term for the feeble-minded offspring of Plymouth prostitutes born in the days when that city was still a major military port, syphilis was rife and penicillin not widely available. As the poor creatures were inevitably institutionalized once diagnosed the last of them were dying out even as I worked there. Granted, rumour had it that 10p and a Mars bar still bought patients the favours their mothers once sold for slightly more, but in reality once confined to asylums for life they could not have children, and as anti-biotics and the downfall of Empire ended both the oldest profession and its side-effects outside asylum walls GPI ended too.
When you see horror films featuring old school mental hospitals, the wild-eyed stereotype of the patient in the straitjacket is the nearest you will see to the GPI sufferer. Needless to say, it has not been seen in a real mental hospital in decades. In the early 1990’s, while at college, I did a few night shifts at the last ‘old style’ Yorkshire asylum. Staff close to retirement vaguely recalled the name GPI, but no-one younger had seen a living example, which makes the Benny even more of an Object of Interest.
Who can account for it? More importantly, how much cash would you part with to see one?
So, instead of being trapped at home by slack-jawed yokels, why not turn Benny-watching into a business opportunity? If wealthy Brit tourists will pay a fortune to look at lions and tigers in Africa, they would surely shell out for a weekend break watching equally exotic wildlife closer to home? It would be far cheaper, far funnier and less dangerous. While getting the wrong side of a lion gets you half-eaten, the worst a Benny can do is drool on your sleeve – and if the glass between the two parties is thick enough, it need not even come to that.
Forget the heritage-themed loser scripts on which the Manx tourist industry has bet our future. Forget scraping the barrel to try and find even one viable example of Manx life in past times which would interest more than half a dozen anoraks on limited incomes.
We have a real life freak show to sell the world, the Clarksons may own the theatre and they should clean up, if only to get compensation for the injustice and blinkered attitudes they have to put up with from the Manx government.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Saving for the nation - or depriving it?

This attempt by Manx Nasty Heretics (see ) to grab a £1.2M legacy left to the community by a well meaning local made me laugh.
It is not just the pathetic attempt to pretend the general public will have a say. It is not even the way a hick judge can be trusted to pass somebody else’s entire life work over to the biggest drain on national and natural resources.
What made me laugh is remembering that some years ago I saw the will of a local collector who knows and despises this racket even more than I do. And, to be fair, he had good reason.
Three times, to my knowledge, their pettiness, ignorance and incestuous protection rackets deprived him or his family of an income, and in the process deprived the island of one of its most important historical buildings and the two finest monthly records of true cultural life it has ever had. As none of the national treasures in question actually passed to either Manx National Heritage or a competent party, all three are simply gone for ever.
Knowing this, and also knowing that the heritage mafia have ways of persuading people to hand over their property, with recourse to quite thuggish legal action if necessary, he set out to make an absolutely bullet-proof will. This ensures that when he finally pops his clogs the island’s least competent guardians of antiquities cannot get their grubby mitts on a substantial hoard of Manx archive material which has been freely offered to genuine researchers, but never has, and never will be, available to heavily government subsidised vandals who would probably flog it for a few crates of Special Brew (or whatever Manx culture-sepulchral throwbacks drink).
Some of the island’s finest legal minds (and there are not many) worked on a document which ensures that valuable treasures are only ever passed down to trustworthy genuine local historians and groups, and that before receiving them they sign binding legal documentation which ensures that should they ever work or accept assistance from MNH (or any individual who, in turn, does so) then the trustees seize back the goods and pass them on to a more deserving recipient.
As well as being legally watertight, it is also quite a funny and scathing document, and even the rumours of it set other local historians and collectors to thinking about similar action. In the process valuable, totally irreplaceable items of Manx cultural heritage (including books, audio tapes and film of the last Manx language speakers, artworks, original manuscripts by Victorian and Edwardian folk archivists and many other fine things) have been preserved for the Manx people, by ensuring that they can never – ever – pass to the government’s appointed trustees. In many cases the keepers of such treasures will never even let MNH or the Manx government know that they exist – at least until such time as the island is run by saner folk who would know what to do with them.

Unholy Smoker

It probably says something about contemporary Britain that I had to find one of the wittiest defences of old school English ‘live and let live’ values I have read in a while in the Daily Mail, not the Guardian, and only after a tip-off from an American libertarian website.
On reflection, it may not be surprising that I cannot read it in the Guardian. As recently as 2010, they would still print Hockney’s comments on such topics. These days there is more chance of finding them in the Methodist Recorder than Britain’s greyest neo-puritan newspaper, which seems to have reduced itself to a mouthpiece for sundry anoraks, wet blankets, drabs and curtain twitchers – even if they do live in Hampstead.
David Hockney comments: “I am sick of the constant negativity in Britain, the utter meanness of spirit (possibly not good for the health) that seems to have taken over everywhere.”
Coming from Hockney, this is interesting, because way back in the days when Beatlemania first hit the US Hockney moved there to further his career. His reasoning (at least as outlined by the film-maker Derek Jarman) was that in Wilson’s Britain – on the surface modern and meritocratic, under it as hopelessly class, race, gender and otherwise prejudiced as in Empire days - there was no place for a working class queer artist with a thick Bradford accent. It wasn’t just the weather that was cold and miserable; it was the thick, talentless elite who ran the gaff, and the majority population who let them.
Having settled back in Britain (oddly enough because, as he says, even Manhattan is now as conformist as the American Midwest talented artists used to go to Greenwich Village to escape), his latest gripe is the escalation of UK health nazi madness and the new rulings that make it all but impossible for stores to admit that they have cigarettes for sale, or to tell potential customers what brands they have.
While I am not (and never have been) a smoker, the rapidly snowballing efforts by bansturbators to stop grown-ups taking basic decisions over their lives and health are important to monitor. As close observers are noting, any junk science scare story or tactic used by superannuated puritans to stop smoking today will be (and already is being) used to restrict or illegalise other grown-up pleasures under the thin excuse of ‘protecting’ public health.
The campaigns, the ethics, the methodology and the arguments are stupid, anti-democratic, and highly offensive. So, just as much as hedonists with a small ‘h’ need to speak out against religious fanatics who want us to all to be miserable and compliant, we also need to speak out against the quasi-religious, pseudo-scientific and cod-moralistic quacks running the New Church of the Empty Head. Vinegar-titted miserablists who would deprive us of any small pleasure still to be found in the 21st century madhouse.
As Hockney says elsewhere in the piece (see for more): “I say to the Health Secretary: we all die. It’s what you do in between birth and death that’s the concern of most people.”
He goes on to say: “I was told by an anti-smoking fanatic (and I know about them as my father was one, although my smoking elder brother has now lived longer than he did, as I will this year) that tobacco ‘killed’ one hundred million people in the 20th Century.
I pointed out one hundred million people were killed in the 20th Century for political reasons and their deaths were very unpleasant indeed. You cannot use a word such as ‘killed’ with smokers.”
Hockney complains: “The low-grade, low-intellect people now ruling us seem to have no vision at all.”
He concludes: “Mr Lansley, Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband, Mr Clegg: Keep out of my life. I don’t want your dreary view of life infecting me. It’s not good for my health, or others around me.”
Exactly the same story (be it on a smaller, duller parochial level) is unfolding on the Isle of Man. So, to those rumpled grey suits and minds that are the Manx versions of Cameron & Co, I would echo Hockney’s message.
Just look at yourselves in a mirror some time, you drab nonentities, then go away and die of the boredom you want to inflict on everyone else.
(hat tip to Lew Rockwell)

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Glum Dummies and Fun Bunnies

Ah, Easter – second biggest opportunity of the year for the Christo-numpties to make prize prats of themselves. And this year’s crop of howlers is dumb as ever.
Up early yesterday, I turned on the BBC news channel –to be honest mainly to find out if religious extremists or UK-government-underwritten Middle Eastern despots had carried out any more massacres while I was asleep – but was surprised to see the BBC World Service giving undue coverage to this drivel (see Not only that but they reported it exactly as scripted by the head of UK Catholic church PR (a part-time BBC producer who, when one of my uni tutors some years ago, offered me and other budding journos a guaranteed first in return for services to the church), without bothering to check the facts (there are none anyway) or to balance it with any point of view from a rational adult.
This blatant BBC partisan crap is quite interesting. In a 1991 conference organised by an outfit called Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom I heard Roger Bolton (then a determinedly independent and outspoken TV producer) admit that the BBC World Service – unlike the BBC in general – was not editorially independent, and that not only did the security services vet all potential employees but that the BBC actually provided offices for security service handlers whose sole function was to ‘advise’ the employees they had hand-picked and to wield the red pencil on scripts which crossed the guidelines.
I wonder if, with nothing else to occupy their tiny brains, the conspiracy nuts who run the 21st century Beeb have hooked up with Opus Dei instead? I cannot for the life of me imagine any other reason why a BBC presenter would allow the ridiculous Andrea Minichello Williams (of the Christian Legal Centre) to chunter on unchecked until her mouth was about to froth and her head to spin round.
Should one complain to the BBC? Possibly not worth the bother – although having our licence fees used to promote such tosh is very annoying. For one thing, watching a CLC nut’s eyes swivel and trying to guess what medication she is on is good entertainment. For another, every time that ridiculous, lying flat-earther O’Brien opens his bigoted mouth in public more Catholics of good conscience turn their backs for ever on a church which does not deserve to survive. We could give it until about Christmas at this rate and the twit will be talking to himself while his fellow priests scour the cathedral miserably, wondering where all the pretty choirboys have gone.
And then today it was Dumbledore’s turn (see
I loved this bit:
“Dr Williams said a hostility towards faith and religion in public life may have been tempered by a recent appreciation of the social value of religion.
But he said the ultimate test of Christianity was not whether it was beneficial to the human race, but whether the resurrection of Jesus Christ actually happened.
He said that for Christians a vision of reconciled love between people "is there only because God raised Jesus" and that the answer was not in scientific proof, but by the way believers lived with and in their faith.”
Which explains why nobody takes them seriously, because the leading examples are all such money-grubbing, hypocritical careerist throwbacks.
Actually, compulsory religious nonsense in schools may serve some educational purpose. Only a few weeks ago, while watching imbeciles three or four times her age gabble their way through the Lord’s Prayer in assembly, my daughter discovered that not only do deluded people talk in their sleep, but that they do it in unison and most of them get the words wrong. This is the sort of valuable stuff I pay taxes for the Education Department to demonstrate empirically.
I suppose it will be at least tomorrow before the chumps who laughingly describe themselves as ‘the Manx media’ update us on the local sermons. Even with the Radio Cowshed (Manx Radio) news desk taking Sunday off and leaving ‘news’ to whatever the religious programmer drags in, the airwaves are refreshingly short of pontificating loons in fancy dress.
There won’t even be pictures from Peel Passion Play this year because Living Hell are hiding indoors - or perhaps just driving around sink estates in unmarked vans trying to kidnap any innocent who has not seen through their act yet. I have a sneaky suspicion that, after last year’s fiasco, even they worked out what a dumb idea it is to hold a mock crucifixion of people known to have helped a notorious 1990’s child abuser cover his tracks. For one thing, when the pictures appear in the local paper, diligent parents will show them to small kids and warn them “If you are ever in a public place and these guys appear, run, and don’t stop running until you find a police officer to bring you home.”
But enough of this - a chocolate bunny beckons.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Crime, damn lies and logistics

A recent advert for the Centre Manager’s job at David Gray House, the island’s bail hostel which is run for government by the Sally Army, not only contradicts lies told by past and present Ministers for Home Affairs but gives away other secrets.
The main lie spouted by the DHA is that, though run by a religious group, DGH services are equally available to those of all or no religious affiliations, and that attending daily acts of worship does not get you a better probation report.
All this came out a few years back when Muslim men were detained in the old Victoria Road jail because, as they would not or could not attend a daily act of Christian worship they were told was compulsory, DGH wouldn’t take them. When the Minister of Home Affairs was challenged over this he had to ask his staff if it was true.
It cannot be established if he was then misled by either the duty probation officer who told the men’s lawyer or the DGH manager (both Broadway Batshit klingons who were, as it happens, quietly trying to set up a rival operation at the time), or if the minister just decided to be ‘economical with the truth’ to his critics.
What is known is that the DGH management then got brown underpants and attendance for residents at the daily worship stopped being compulsory, though as the court reports continued to be given by folk who thought it should be those who did not attend were inevitably marked as ‘uncooperative’ with the program. One other affect was that future adverts for DGH staff stopped short of demanding applicants were Salvationists or at least Christians, and merely asked that they be prepared to work within the ‘Christian ethos’ of the project.
If that ‘Christian ethos’ phrase sounds familiar, that would be because it is a fudge term introduced by a notorious CARE workshop held at Stepford Central (Tynwald Mills) for Christian employers who only want to employ bigots and brown-nosers but are worried they might end up in court. Several known attendees hold key ‘gate-keeping’ positions in Government departments and two are now government ministers, which rather explodes the myth that government don’t go along with this flat-earth nonsense.
So it is interesting that the mid-March advert for a new DGH Centre Manager says “You will need to be a committed and practising Christian who can work with the chaplain to promote the spiritual ethos of the centre.”
As well as being illegal – even in the Isle of Man – that lets several cats out of the bag. By the way, DGH does not actually have a ‘chaplain’ - or any kind of trained/licenced minister of religion - on tap. But explaining why also allows me to explode another myth – that the Salvation Army is an independent Manx charity.
The advert helpfully directs applicants to the Northwest Divisional Headquarters of the Salvation Army, which actually manages the centre and receives the income from the Manx government, although both parties to this shady arrangement would rather you did not know that. All this last came up in the 1980s, when some old biddies left houses to the Manx Salvation Army to be used for housing vulnerable people. Against the wishes of local Salvationists, Northwest DHQ decided to cash in on the property boom, flogged them and banked the proceeds off-island.
At the same time, the local SA also had a £100K legacy, given on the understanding that they would turn their old hall into the island’s first purpose built youth centre - to be managed by a committee of influential Christians as the donor did not trust the government to do it. Problem was, the committee of influential (non-Salvationist) Christians they set up thought there was more loot in flogging the building to a brewery for a nightclub, which flatly goes against the core teetotal culture of Salvationists. They did this by placing ownership of the building into the hands of a Jersey trust, set up by the bank which brokered the deal –or to be more precise by an individual now employed by government to oversee the murky ‘Third Sector’ deals between government and churches which are gradually handing over social services to religious charities.
Because of the rows this sparked between local Salvationists, their English HQ and the bogus management committee which allows the Manx Salvation Army to be passed off as a ‘Manx charity’ some of the £100K legacy and some of the house sale money (but none of the much bigger pay-off from the sale of the old hall) was re-invested locally in the purchase of a local boarding house which became David Gray House. Up until about 2003 the DGH manager was a Salvation Army officer (i.e. a church minister) directly appointed by Northwest DHQ – a separate appointment to the minister who runs the Douglas Salvation Army worship centre. Then, due to cut-backs, Northwest DHQ dropped that arrangement and appointed a single officer with social work qualifications to (on paper) run both projects. In practice he ran the church and oversaw a DGH manager with minimal qualifications or experience in order that the DGH income continued to flow to Liverpool, thus thwarting a bid by a rival local evangelical sect to muscle in on the opportunity. He was also ‘invited’ to chair the QUANGO which set up both Manx homelessness ‘charities’, which, despite the personal fair mindedness of that officer and one or two others, resulted in the current less than satisfactory situation for any government attempt to (on paper) deal with core homelessness and rehabilitation problems.
The core problems, I would have to suggest, are not crime, poverty and social deprivation, but evangelical avarice, government disinterest, and the tendency towards flat-out porkie-telling of both guilty parties.