Monday, November 28, 2016

Pendle - in mist and sunshine

Enjoyed a great walk on Saturday. Starting from Gargrave, headed on to Bell Busk via Coniston Cold. Stopping for a quick sandwich on Haw Crag. All the way round, heavy mist laid in the valleys and low lying land but from the top of the Crag, Pendle Hill's summit appeared suspended between the mist and clear blue sky. A bewitching sight of such a famous hill.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Now let us praise the President-Elect...

As politicians - mainly on the right (or very-far-right) - line up to congratulate JD Trump, here's a reminder from Auden where adulation for the abhorrent ends.
WH Auden Epitaph on a Tyrant
Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after, And the poetry he invented was easy to understand; He knew human folly like the back of his hand, And was greatly interested in armies and fleets; When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter, And when he cried the little children died in the streets.
The prophetic voice from January 1939.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Royal Prerogative is a funny way of delivering democracy, isn't it Mrs May?

Welcome news that the government can't trigger Art 50 behind closed doors by claiming to use the pre-civil war powers of the sovereign. Back at my law school, we learned about the power of the courts in preventing the widening of prerogative powers, in the telling phrase of Lord Diplock in BBC v Johns that it is
350 years and a civil war too late for the Queen’s courts to broaden the royal prerogative
. A short, sharp reminder of the limits of the profoundly undemocratic power that the executive craves, but which judges can reign in as a defence against the untrammelled exercise of political power. The deluded Brexiters who rejoice that we've 'taken back' the country, now need to learn another lesson - that Parliament is the supreme law-maker and has the right to control the work of government ministers, particularly when they think it better to do shabby deals in closed rooms that will have a profound effect on our lives and the economy for years to come. An appeal would be most unwise...

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

55 - an age of wondrous new invitations...

Reaching 55 has led to an array of interesting offers and invitations: from hearing aid tests to pension drawdowns (Mr Osborne's special gift to the middle-aged); not to mention Michael Parkinson and his free pen and 'no questions' life insurance policy. But of far more pressing need today is the invitation to attend my local NHS hospital for bowel scope screening. Now, don't get me wrong, colo-rectal cancer is a serious disease that affects a higher proportion of those 55 and older, but one particular aspect of it, as announced in the invitation, caused me to have a brief smile at a long-ago Viz cartoon strip. The invitation, loving crafted on a standard NHS letterheading, came with a leaflet that explained the procedure before going on to tell me that I could watch the procedure on a monitor, if I so desired. And this is where Roger Mellie raised his head. In the late 80s cartoon, he was pitching an idea for a new TV programme - one that now seems oddly prescient. It was called Up the Celebrity Arsehole. Although he's since reprised the concept for the X-Factor judges, in the original, Mellie's idea is at first rejected as his producer tells him no celebrity would agree to be placed behind a curtain and given a stage-based colonoscopy that members of the public are then shown and the winner is the first to guess the celeb's identity. Mellie persists, however, and the final frame shows a man crouched on a table while Mellie urges 'Mr Slattery' to bend over further so they can get the camera in (reference to the ubiquitous TV personality Tony Slattery, although now TOWIE would probably provide a whole host of far keener 'celebs' willing to bend and pose. So, this afternoon, I'm going to struggle to keep a straight face when asked if I want to see my 'performance' on screen: the revolution might not be televised, but the endoscopy very well might be - over to you Roger.