The Non Miracle

I have had the experience of watching two children born, and while the experience is interesting, to have it twice is probably twice as many times as a fellow should have it. I mean to say – and this has been said many times before – there really isn’t much for the man to do, and the event seems best left in the hands of the womenfolk.

What was certainly agreeable about the two births I’ve witnessed was that they took place in the delivery rooms on the maternity wards of hospitals. This is where the next generation should be born. Not being a cretin, I don’t consider conception, gestation – and certainly not the birth itself – as ‘miracles’ or any sort of spiritual occurrence. I confess to being irritated by those who do. Continue reading

Fly fishing by J R Hartley

Indulge me briefly as I need an aide memoire and this will do as well as any.

Biography – in parts, 1947-73 (Guanaboa and Croydon)

1973-89 (police corruption)

1989-96 (mental illness and work for Life Science, Cambridge).

1996-2006 only received out of pocket expenses (false)

2006-2017 the MyT years and eventual jail.

What do you think?


Every Cloud ….

Does the cloud over Manchester have a silver lining?

Yes, it most definitely does.

No one can have failed to be impressed by the seemingly endless stories of ordinary Mancunians rushing to help in any way they could. The taxi drivers who all turned off their meters and worked through the night to reunite children with their parents. The passers by who stopped, and stayed, to comfort the injured and dying. The local residents who opened up their homes to give shelter to hundreds of people, children and adults, who were stranded as a result of the closure of public transport. The hotels which opened their doors to anyone in need of a bed for the night, without any thought of recompense. The locals who brought food and drink to the emergency services. Every story was wonderfully heart-warming. Continue reading

We’ve Lost.


I detest political correctness.  I think it’s the enemy.  I mean there are many enemies, but they all come together under one rubric, which is one person is trying to tell another person how to think.

  • Norman Mailer
Mr Utley has commented on the wooden delivery of Mrs May’s response to the Manchester mass-murder. As it happens, I agree with his analysis, but I think it misses the point. To consider her style of delivery is to choose not to consider the content – and it’s the content that matters. Probably this point is self-evident, but when we consider surface-matters we can easily be distracted from what’s important.

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The Art of Public Speaking

It is mean of me to single out Mrs May. Very few modern politicians are good at oratory. The Prime Minister is very far from being alone. But, inevitably, because prime ministers’ speeches tend to be rather more important than those of other politicians, Mrs May’s efforts at public speaking are more noticeable than those of others.

The two recent terrorist atrocities (Westminster and Manchester) led, quite rightly, to Mrs May making emotional speeches to the nation from Downing Street. In both cases, her words were well judged. She said what had to be said by our head of government. I stress that I make no criticism of the content of her speeches. But I do have to say that her delivery was simply appalling. Continue reading

Tarantino Six

In the opening scene in Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino gave us what was something of a novelty at the time. His characters were talking. That’s not the same as having characters exchange dialogue to further the plot. His characters talked to each other. From the speech about the subtext to Madonna’s Like a Virgin to the bullshitting about tipping, the easy, realistic dialogue made us another character at the table: we were listening to ordinary folks talk, and because we’re ordinary folks, an invisible wall was removed and we were sat having breakfast, too.

The dialogue is one of the immediately recognisable things in a Tarantino picture. The exception to this rule, the Tarantino movie which isn’t rammed with Tarantino dialogue, is Inglorious Basterds, but that movie still has two scenes which are two of the best scenes he’s written

So what are six of the best scenes in Tarantino’s writing?

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Has Mrs May Blown it?

I should say immediately that the answer to the question posed in the title of this piece is an emphatic “No”. Oh, all right, that is over the top. The answer is an emphatic “Not Yet”.

The Prime Minister has been extraordinarily foolish. It is always easy to say, after the event, that one would have behaved differently. But I know that I am not making use of hindsight. The second I saw the manifesto pledge to make the elderly pay for their care from their estates after their deaths I thought Mrs May had been very silly. That is not to say that the policy is evil. After all, Mr Corbyn wants to take even more money from the dead than Mrs May does. I just thought it was wholly unnecessary. All she needed to say was that her government would consider all options, that there would be wide ranging consultations etc. etc. Continue reading

Labour Support Surges – Good – Now for a Proper Election Campaign

I want the Conservatives to win the election with a handsome majority. But I have been desperately uneasy about the way they have, so far, been conducting the campaign.

What one might call the “leader cult” is certainly not new to British politics (remember Tony Blair?). But I think it fair to say that it has never before been advanced in such a shameless way as the Tories are now promoting it.

Mrs May’s endless demands that we should vote for “me”, rather than for Conservative candidates, were bound, eventually, to backfire on her. That seems to have happened. The latest You Gov poll for the Sunday Times suggests that Labour is now (on 35%) only nine points behind the Conservatives (on 44%). Continue reading

With One Look

Fair is my Love and cruel as she is fair;
Her brow-shades frown, although her eyes are sunny.
Her smiles are lightning, though her pride despair,
And her disdains are gall, her favours honey:
A modest maid, deck’d with a blush of honour,
Whose feet do tread green paths of youth and love;
The wonder of all eyes that look upon her,
Sacred on earth, design’d a Saint above.
Chastity and Beauty, which were deadly foes,
Live reconcilèd friends within her brow;
And had she Pity to conjoin with those,
Then who had heard the plaints I utter now?
For had she not been fair, and thus unkind,
My Muse had slept, and none had known my mind.

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