Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The scarlet pimpernel is a wayside flower (Anagallis arvensis)
 but The Scarlet Pimpernel (whom I have mentioned before), is the template for the modern, fictional hero and the invention of Baroness Emmuska Orczy. I recently found that the definitive film version (1934) (starring Leslie Howard as Sir Percy Blakeney; Merle Oberon as Marguerite St Just, Lady Blakeney, and Raymond Massey as Chauvelin; directed by Alexander Korda), is on Youtube and definitely worth a viewing, I remember that I saw it for the first time with my father when I was about eight years old, and the impression that it made on me.

The story was first produced as a play in October 1903, at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, starring Fred Terry as Blakeney:

Here is a still of Howard and Oberon:

Monday, 23 July 2012


A favourite cat, Splash, died on me in the night. He suddenly became ill at midday on Saturday and I couldn't get any vet' to turn out. He got much worse over Sunday and even 'emergency' numbers were unanswered. Even just forty eight hours ago he seemed fine but, apparently, cats are adept at hiding illness. He survived a toxic shock and an operation consequential on that three months ago and I just hoped that he would pull through this but, as ever:

'Lo! some we loved the lov'liest and best'

are taken from us soonest. I buried him early this morning under an acerola tree with a red rose which, eventually, I had managed to grow in the windswept garden. I haven't felt so sad for a long time because, even fully grown, not only would he seek me out but he used actually to climb up me for attention and I shall miss him very much.

R.I.P. Splash: ''A very fine cat''.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Olympics 2012

So the Olympics are in big overspend, to the tune of several billion pounds. All construction projects started by local and national Labour and Liberal politicians seem to result in massive overspends. Often the companies involved go bust and the projects are then sold off at a mere fraction of the cost to the public purse. Presumably, the money that goes missing is stolen.

This brings me to my tu'ppence-worth on the 2012 Olympics. First, the athletes should be all amateurs and arrive at their own expense; secondly, they should be made to compete in the nude (no sponsors allowed). The events are that they run around Silverstone a couple of times; throw javelins and do the long and high jump in the middle, and the winner of each event gets a crown of laurel and they all get a fig leaf for modesty at the end. Then they can all bugger off home at their own expense. Anyone interested in watching should be allowed to do so free of charge; no cameras allowed.

Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell on one side and Garden Broom and Ken Livingstone on the other should provide the grand finale - a tug o' war across the Thames, by Vauxhall Bridge, with a rope borrowed from the River Police. The losers get drowned by the currents and the winners are drowned by the crowd.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Wombledon Men's Final

First we had tales of poor gullible fools queuing for a week to sit on Henman Hill for a screening of the finals within earshot of the football rabble's chanting inside Centre Court. Is my memory awry or was it easily within my lifetime that all that punctuated the plopping of the ball to and fro' were: the popping of corks, gentle applause for points actively won (as opposed to deriving from the opponent's unforced errors), and the voices of the linesmen and women and the umpire (additionally there was Dan Mascall's whispered commentary on BBC2).I have often complained that it is the age of the Common Man but I rather regret the observation now because the Common Man is often at least reasonably quiet. Now it is the age of the rabble. Lip-reading the Duchess of Cambridge, she thought ''Isn't this dreadful?''

Along the way, we were treated to the announcement that ''Victoria Beckham has arrived - with huis?band David, of course.'' What  has this scowling misery got to do with anything?

Then we had the spectacle of another in a long, long line of hopeful (but inadequate) Brits flailing around the court in this year's Dance of Death, including, this time, a nearly complete sommersault. We then had to witness the rabble at large and the gradual, palpable loss of heart in the latest British Wannabe, topped off with the inevitable final failure.

That wasn't quite the end though because, having lost what is after all just a game of tennis, the would-be hero couldn't contain his emotions for just long enough to congratulate the Victor and beetle-off to lick his wounds. It wasn't very clear whether wobbly chin and the tears were borne of self-pity; regret for the supporters or for Scotland the Brave. I have to say that I regard myself as a Cornishman but I am a British subject and Murray had already lost  in my book with his militant Scottishness. He didn't even pretend to represent the rest of us. He crowned it with his obvious contempt for the Duke of Kent who would probably prefer to be at home watching it on the telly like everybody else anyway.  I really don't think that I shall watch this tournament again: Henman Hill....Murray Mount....Bumbler's Bump.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Seven Men Arrested Under Terrorist Legislation

We are told that seven men have been arrested under anti-terrorist legislation. It is made to sound like a triumph; even before any charges, let alone the trial..

The car was stopped for a document check. Instead of being issued with a 'producer' (to bring the documents to a police station within seven days - the usual routine), the car was summarily impounded as the driver could not produce his insurance on the spot. The car was then intimately searched (presumably under anti-terrorist legislation that covers failing to produce insurance) and they found weapons. Therefore, we are assured, the occupants are terrorists. Sounds as though it is at least equally likely that they are just a criminal gang.  They might even be into amateur theatricals and the weapons might be fakes. But the starting point now is that we are all probably terrorists unless and until we can convince Mr Policeman that we are not.

What's with the 'routine' stop 'n' search of a car? Maybe they were at a loose end after their fish 'n' chips. The truth is that the fuzz see black or brown people in a car (Heaven help the occupants if it is a nice car), so they 'routinely' stop it - sounds like the old use of 'sus' laws under the Vagrancy Act, which Mr Policeman often used routinely to stop and search young West Indians in the street: you know, ''Oi, you'' - push them up against a wall and frisk them; then make them turn out their pockets and just hope for a flick knife.

In this case, the fuzz found weapons and, because the occupants are brown, they are automatically 'terrorists'. Step up the police powers a little more and call them the 'SS' and have bloody done with it.

If Hitler had won, how would there be more oppression than there is now? It's almost as though -

''Mr Brown went off to town on the 08.21'' -  but, one day, he just never came home.

Earlier in the week a 'bus driver and all the 'bus occupants freaked out when someone was innocently using an 'electronic cigarette' (whatever that may be - I guess that it is some modern invention borne out of drummed-up, fetishist fear of the demon weed). Why didn't someone have the sense just to ask the man what he was doing? You know - ''Aw right, mate. What's that you got there then? Not a bomb is it Ho, Ho, Ho?'' Instead they all sat there, frozen with unnecessary and manufactured fear, messing their pants like a 'bus load of incontinent rabbits, and then had a rehearsal for Armageddon with stormtroopers.

That made everyone late for work..all those people late for their jobs in the new industry which has sprung up, involving dunderheads listening in to our telephone calls and reading our work out whether we need to be hauled in to prove that we are not terrorists.

Recently it was shown that anti-terrorist legislation was being used for surveillance activities (inter alia) over parents taking their children to local authority schools (to make sure that they were entitled to send them there in the first place) - and even to regulate the clearance of dog mess from the pavements by dog owners! In another instance, a man with a video camera, in his own garden, was stormed by police who demanded to know what he was doing!

What happened to the England that I once knew? The England that had policemen and police women who saluted citizens and helped old ladies to cross the road and kept thugs off the street? There is a lot of prattling on about immigration and there is certainly some truth in the fact that the UK is vastly over-crowded but the biggest problem is not really from immigration at all, the biggest problem is the arch-enemy of Liberty: the climate of fear, which is being inculcated and fed by governments keen to impose more and more control over citizens.

It all began with the growth of white-trash culture and political pandering to the ignorant and the mean and the miserable flaccid under-belly of society, which is where governments rightly see the biggest number of votes. Politicians have come to realize that if you please the gob-smackingly thick-headed white-trash readers of white-trash papers like The Sun and The News of The World, and enact increasingly oppressive legislation accordingly, and encourage fear and hatred of brown people on the basis that they are all terrorists, you'll be voted back.

In fact, I think that it all began with that Sun headline after an IRA attack in London: ''IRISH BASTARDS'' it screamed from news stands everywhere, with a concomitant campaign to boycott Kerrygold Irish butter. One Irish girl I knew was in tears over it. The Irish are not brown but, so far as members of the white-trash under-belly of the modern English are concerned they are the next best thing - and Edmund Burke was wrong: you can condemn a whole nation.

Heil! to Tin-Hitlers everywhere! Just wait now before they impose body-searches and bag and luggage scans for train and 'bus travel. It cannot be long and no one will consider the misery of it first.

England, my England, where did you go?

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Le Coin Perdu II

There is a strong Swiss influence in parts of Brasil and here is a delightful example of it: