Archive for April, 2012

Karma In Action

April 30, 2012

Telling Stories

Tracy Chapman

There is fiction in the space between
The lines on your page of memories
Write it down but it doesn’t mean
You’re not just telling stories
There is fiction in the space between
You and me

There is fiction in the space between
You and reality
You will do and say anything
To make your everyday life
Seem less mundane
There is fiction in the space between
You and me

There’s a science fiction in the space between
You and me
A fabrication of a grand scheme
where I am the scary monster
I eat the city as I leave the scene
In my spaceship I am laughing
In your remembrance of your bad dream
There’s no one but you standing

Leave the pity and the blame
For the ones who do not speak
You write the words to get respect and compassion
And for posterity
You write the words and make believe
There is truth in the space between

There is fiction in the space between
You and everybody
Give us all what we need
Give us one more sad sordid story
But in the fiction of the space between
Sometimes a lie is the best thing
Sometimes a lie is the best thing

I stumbled across this the other day and then I stumbled across this:

I had an early intimation of the attractions of evil when I was quite small. As a boy, I went to a lot of football matches and was enthusiastic about them in a way that I now find very difficult to understand. Anyhow, there was a cup match which I deemed it of supreme importance that I should attend, and as the tickets went on sale well in advance, I took myself off to the stadium and joined a very long queue. I was about eleven years old at the time.

In front of me in the queue was a group of young men. Going along the queue was an old blind beggar, accompanied by a child with a cap into which donors could put their coins. The old man had an accordion and was singing ‘The Man Who Broke the Bank of Monte Carlo’. As he approached the young men they turned up the volume of the transistor radio that they had with them to drown out the old man’s song, laughing as they did so. The poor old man was bewildered, and walked away as if confused and frightened.

I have never forgotten that little incident, and it has haunted me – not continuously, I hasten to add – ever since. The pleasure those young men took in taunting the old man, and laughing at him, taught me that the human heart is not invariably good; that there is a lot of fun in cruelty. But it also taught me something else.

I did nothing to defend that old man. Of course, it would have been unreasonable, as I now realise, to expect an eleven year-old boy to go and tackle a lot of seventeen year-olds, or however old they were; discretion in this case really was the better part of valour. But I knew then, straight away, that I failed to assist the man from cowardice and for no other reason; and furthermore, no one else in the queue intervened either. As Edmund Burke put it, or is supposed to have put it (there is a brilliant essay on the internet pointing out that there is no source of this famous quote), ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing’.

Sometimes I think that maybe, just maybe, there really is a God.

Addendum: I’d like to remind readers of The Wall Street Journal of the tragic case of Kitty Genovese.

Addendum II:  I must say I can do nothing but agree with the commenter writing here who asserts that, ‘I’ve not read the article, but most of the comments. I find the ‘was ever thus’ mentality never ceases to amaze me.’

Indeed.  We used to hang, draw and quarter traitors.  In these more enlightened times we just throw food at them.  Now that’s what I call progress.

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Now That’s What I Call a Proper Little Entrepreneur:

April 26, 2012

My adorable little niece: Amelia (After Amelia Earhart not Amelia Jane: The Naughty Doll’.)

Now This Really is Priceless

April 19, 2012

‘But roughly from the end of the Victorian age until the Second World War, we based our policing and justice and prisons on the belief that people should be and were free in almost all aspects of life, but if they broke known laws they would be treated with some harshness, and deliberately punished, through loss of liberty and honour, compulsory hard work, separation from the world outside, deprivation of pleasures, austere living conditions etc.’

Now, don’t laugh, this could be true.  On whichever planet Mr. Hitchens (Future PM and Leader of the Free World) happens to be posting from.

The death rattle of a thoroughly discredited generation.

Keats/Kipling Smackdown

April 10, 2012

Peter Hitchens is getting his knickers in a knot over the fact that the winning team on University Challenge: Manchester University seemed unfamiliar with that old stalwart of Autumn: Keats’s ‘Ode to Autumn’. Could that have something to do with technological advances which mean that people have to specialise much earlier than they used to? And wasn’t it Einstein who said that only monomaniacs ever get anything done?

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Truly magical and truly tragic if you live your entire life unfamiliar with these words. Hitchens goes on to bemoan the fact that even he, in all his intellectual brilliance, cannot measure up to the educational standards of his father’s generation. That would be my late grandfather’s generation too. Towards the end of his army career he was an NCO and his job was to train national service boys, a sizeable minority of whom could barely read or write but they could shoot straight, could run fast, hold their drink, play a mean game of poker and tell delightfully vulgar jokes. These men may have only been dimly aware of the existence of ‘Ode to Autumn’ but you can bet your bottom dollar that they knew this next little gem by heart.

TOMMY
Rudyard Kipling

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint of beer.
The publican ‘e ups an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:

O it’s Tommy this, and Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me.
They sent me to the gallery or ’round the music-‘alls.
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! They’ll shove me in the stalls!

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopships’ on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, making mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy ‘ow’s your soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O, it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;

While it’s Tommy this an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy fall be’ind,”
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of his country,” when the guns begins to shoot;
Yes, it’s Tommy this an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
But Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!


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