The Kraken wakes

Posted in Summary & Index by Deputy city editor on November 11, 2008


Liu Tong-Pin on a Kraken

Liu Tong-Pin on a Kraken

Alfold, Surrey — Global developments since my last report have been adequately covered elsewhere, albeit that most of these of any significance will have been predicted here some time ago. You can review for example how on January 8, 2008, very nearly 11 months before was allegedly the first to have called it, I forsaw Obama’s victory here.  (You’d have got 50-1). Despite such a track record, since globally there are now more blogs than mice, this blog’s infrequency will have negligible effect on the global buzz. 

Furthermore, since this space became quiescent, other than the occasional dog bulletin, there has been an absence of complaint other than from Jacques, my “fan” in Nancy, France, who is forgiven his irritating pedantry (he is a teacher) in return for his loyalty.  He may not understand the vulgarity of competing for page views with the likes of Huffington, although this failure has nothing to do with him being French. In any case my new priority is to grow my own veg, with a sideline in physic herbs, which I will mix into spells using my new cauldron. I have some very good Fever Few on the go but my scientist neighbour advises me I will need a special licence for the belladonna and deadly nightshade. 

This is merely a note to thank those of you who are still dropping by despite my indolence, but especially to say hello to those who arrive here by serendipity, looking for n’importe quoi.

Here, for those in the latter classification, are some bits & pieces from I told you so that might be worth a visit if not a detour. With Proustian discipline, I shall limit myself to 13:

  1. My biography (in progress) of Morris Miller, kinsman and hero of the Spanish Civil War. I am growing quercus ilex from acorns I recovered from the place where he was killed. 
  2. Afghanistan I take no pleasure in saying this has been a case where I told you so has been tragically proven prescient. 
  3. Foot & Mouth  Big Epizootic Page.  If you want to have confidence in the ability of the British government to handle any forthcoming public health crisis, do not read this.  I am afraid this is another case where ITYS was right from the start. 
  4. Why I hate trains.  They were fabulous in the 19th century, useful in the 20th, but the attempt to revive them is a bizarre transportation choice driven by a cult of fundamentalist train buffs. Obviously, one makes an exception for old steam trains, and paintings by Chris Ludlow
  5. What does it mean to read? This is the question posed by Pierre Bayard who I like not only because he annoys fellow academics. The argument for not reading inspires even if it is not the same as the case for not writing, although this is also a very good thing.
  6. What does it mean to be English?    What does it mean to be French?  It is amazing how many people do not understand Hortense.
  7. The Goddess who invented the alphabet .  Some sources on Boccaccio’s almost forgotten famous woman.
  8. A Lacanian interprets Google. Jacques-Alain Miller doesn’t get it.
  9. Zionism and ‘anti-semitism’ Big News Page.  (Obama’s pandering speech to Aipac does not seem to put him on the right side of these questions.)
  10. Iraq.  Big Stale News Page. All this is getting a little historical but at least it is another example where ITYS was right from the start. It is tedious being correct on so many big questions but there it is. This is as much about spin and media as it is about war.
  11. A rumination on Arthur Ransome.  Another almost forgotten figure worth revisiting, whose robust views on the need for children to be independent have been swept away by a tide of nannyism. 
  12. ITYS was also right about the uselessness of the London police chief.  I am afraid this is an example of angst that probably reads rather tediously but sometimes one’s hatred for the corruption of our rulers becomes overwhelming and results in sense of humour failure and loss of journalistic superficiality. 
  13. The strange netherworld of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Honestly this is a ghastly organisation that has nothing to do with the public broadcasting we deserve.  I’ve been at them for years, and they get worse and worse. I may have told you so – and by now most people agree with me – but the Ministry of Truth sails on.

I apologise if this list does not feature some of my other thrilling observations (including the embarrassing profession of admiration for Mika), and other little features on such as the cities of Berlin and Poznan. There are many other subjects discussed herein with varying degrees of sobriety which you may discover whilst browsing through this whelk of the blogosphere.

When you start writing it is hard to stop, especially on the palimpsest of the WordPress template. Nevertheless, I have to go now – il faut cultiver notre jardin.

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The top of the morning…

Molière, Blair: not to be confused

I tune in France Inter to hear the unwelcome voice of Tony Blair, ignoring Wodehouse*, speaking French. One is very pleased by the poverty of his accent. Nevertheless, Blair is now firmly out of the closet as an aspiring francophone and his vanity and the thirst of French television producers for the absurd suggest that this is a distressing foretaste of future Blairite discourses in the tongue of Molière.

Update, 18 December: Alastair Campbell was plugging his book on Ce soir ou jamais (FR3) last night and I am furious to admit that his French was excellent, fluent if sometimes approximative, and much more cromulent than that of his erstwhile boss. Campbell is as slippery in French as he is in English. 

Conspiracy theorists will feast on Irwin Stelzer’s splash in The Sunday Times which was a glorious salvo at Gordon Brown. Presumably the days of intimate tête-à-tête between Gordon and Irwin are now over. I take this piece as affirmation that the affair between Rupert Murdoch and Gordon Brown is certainly over. It is unusual if not unprecedented for Irwin’s name to go on a splash. The link above does not do justice to the dramatic treatment on the printed page:

Normally this is the sort of material Irwin might confide to Rupert over dinner so to share it with the rest of us is bound to have some significance, to those of a high enough pay grade to appreciate it.

There is return fire from the Treasury in The Telegraph.

The sting of Irwin’s piece is that Gordon and Darling are paralysed by the bank/banking crisis and the Bank’s advice for an exit from the crisis is ignored. The Telegraph/Treasury says that Mervyn King lost the plot and has landed everyone in a fine mess. Either way, nobody is forecasting that it will be five more years for the governor. I think they should put Irwin in charge, provided he stops taking orders from Murdoch.


* Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.

-The Luck of the Bodkins, 1935

Gordon’s 10-year plan for the Pathan plus other bits from I told you so…

Posted in I told you, Summary & Index by Deputy city editor on December 11, 2007

Put out more flags. Gordon has a 10-year-plan for Afghanistan. See him photographed with soldiers. The control of Basra. Read & weep.

How to talk about books you haven’t read. Pierre Bayard makes some unsettling points about the nature of reading and what books really mean.

Why can’t the English be more like the French? Hortense de Monplaisir explains. But who is she? Image of Mme Bernard-Henri Lévi chosen by The Sunday Times to illustrate this enigma.

Dieudonné: After consulting BHL (see above), The New Yorker accuses a French comic of “hate” comedy. I told you so is not convinced.

French cinema: a glorious restoration of Hôtel du Nord.

Trains. Save this one. Not this one.

Work in progress. The story of Morris Miller, killed on the Ebro, 1938.

The BBC. What is it good for? The censorship of Panorama: What not to believe.

Berlin: Top 13 things about Swinging Berlin.

The Daily Show: Elizabeth Kucinich and the censorship of Channel 4.

Explore the Top Posts and the Tag Cloud (right) for more.

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