China reminds us, once more, that it invented fireworks: and some. Quite an impressive display, this to mark the opening of the Shanghai Expo. Like Shanghaiist, I was especially struck by the way in which the Oriental Pearl Tower is transformed into a gigantic flaming cock towards the end – at about the 9:50 mark - like something out of old Bill Burroughs’ fondest fantasies. If you look closely you can see a small figure kneeling before the erection, trembling in abject, frantic obeisance. Why, it’s Martin Jacques!
The Beeb has a feature on Germans who fought on the British side in WW2:
But among those who stepped forward for Britain were 10,000 German and Austrian nationals, who had fled the Nazis and were willing to fight against their own countrymen. Known as "the King's most loyal enemy aliens" many, but not all, were Jewish.
My favourite is Horst Pinschewer, a Jewish refugee who as a lieutenant in military intelligence under the name Geoffrey Perry arrested Lord Haw Haw, shooting him in the backside as he did so. Joyce was apparently trying to pull out some ID. Perry thought he was going for a gun.
A notable war, then. But what Perry did next was go on to found Family Circle, our most gemutlich magazine. I always imagined him slipping a tale of his wartime exploits into the masthead, perhaps during a slow month, something along the lines of:
Make Scrumptious Black Forest gateaux, by Jane Asher.
Knit your very own Queen Mum, by William Shawcross.
How I shot Lord Haw Haw up the arse, by the proprietor.
I don't think he ever did, though.
UODATE: Thanks to Barry in comments, more from Mr Pinschewer/Perry here.
We also have some problems with British youths organizing stag parties in Krakow, and British football fans. It cuts both ways.
Hey, fuck off Sikorski. My experience of drunk Poles is that they’re good as gold, though this is obviously anecdote as evidence. British drunks in Poland may be something of a problem, but that’s because they go there to get drunk. Poles come here to work and then get drunk in their own time, paying taxes as well as scattering money around the economy in general like, well, drunken Poles. You’d think that Mr Anne Applebaum would actually like to say a good word for cosmopolitanism now and again.
I suppose if I was a really serious political blogger I wouldn’t link to stories like this:
The likely cause was eventually established – he had apparently been drinking with friends, and had passed out. His friends had decided it would be amusing to insert a live eel into his anus whilst he was comatose.
And the hungry little eel ate and ate and ate. There is some sociological interest in that this happened in Sichuan, which proves that drunk blokes are the same everywhere. Except that in Britain I suppose they’d have done it while dressed in drag.
UPDATE: I changed the original link on legal advice (see comments).
A teacher who struck a pupil with a dumbbell has been acquitted of attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Peter Harvey, 50, hit the 14-year-old with a 3kg (6.6lb) weight at All Saints' Roman Catholic School, Mansfield, in July 2009, a jury heard.
The boy, who said he could not recall the attack, suffered a fractured skull.
... It emerged during the four-day trial that pupils at the school were trying to wind up Harvey so his reaction could be caught on a camcorder being used secretly by a girl in the class.
The footage was then to be passed around the school as a way of "humiliating" the teacher.
I remember that from school as well: you went in fear of the strong ones and got revenge by going after the weak ones like sharks. When that scenario develops it’s not about liberal or conservative methods of teaching. It means the whole school culture’s rancid - a merciless environment all round. And check this:
After the attack science teacher Harvey, who had just gone back to work after several months off with stress, told police he thought he had killed the boy.
Transcripts of an interview with detectives were read out in court.
Harvey said: "I can't remember it too well but I do recall it was like watching it on television, like it was not actually happening to me.
"I can remember the boy swearing and when that happened I was not really there."
"We went through the door into the prep room and I remember standing over him with this metal weight and I remember hitting him twice.
"Something happened and I'm sure I dropped it. I remember feeling really peaceful."
Sounds like a classic dissociative state: also found in women who kill violent partners, abused children, ex-servicemen suffering from PTSD and similar victims of long term psychic stress. His pupils tried to engineer a breakdown and got what they wanted. That kid with the fractured skull was pretty lucky, all in all.
OK, I decided to change my strapline and pasture off the greatest buffoon in the nation with a silver turnip watch and a pound of snuff. I thought about adopting Chris Williams’ suggestion from a while back – no-one is not evil here – but eventually went with the Malaparte. It seems to speak somehow to the Times We Live In.
Tourism is to be phased out in the core regions of the 37 tiger reserves, Rajesh Gopal, the head of India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority, told The Times. “We should not forget that tiger reserves are primarily for conserving the endangered tiger and tourism is just a secondary outcome,” he said. “Our reserves are small and prone to disturbance caused by tourism. They cannot compete with large African savanna parks, which can stand large number of tourists.”
The Environment Ministry has ordered India’s states to wind down tourism in such areas and to tightly regulate it in surrounding regions where the chance of seeing a tiger is far smaller, Dr Gopal said. People who live in core tiger habitats will be moved.
My emphasis. OK, why is India clearing out human habitation in tiger reserves, now that the tigers have had their chance and apparently blown it? Chinese military intelligence wants to know. Also, the Naxalites.
John Harris, writing about the PM’s bid for the votes of people who deal with customers on a daily basis, says:
This may sound tangential, but I'm rather reminded of a passage from a Tony Blair conference speech that both set out New Labour's credo, and captured its essential pathology. "The character of this changing world is indifferent to tradition," he said. "Unforgiving of frailty. No respecter of past reputations. It has no custom and practice. It is replete with opportunities, but they only go to those swift to adapt, slow to complain, open, willing and able to change." That doesn't describe Gillian Duffy, nor millions and millions of other people. And in this awful episode, here are the wages of that ever-festering disconnection.
You’re worried about immigrants? Jesus wept woman, I had this guy shot for you. What more do you want?
Some of this goes back to the accession of the Poles, et al to the EU, when the government desperately tried to fudge the likely numbers coming in. What they could have said at the time was “ we know that large population transfers tend to make people nervous, but frankly we’re looking forward to getting hundreds of thousands of extra taxpayers in to help pay for all the stuff you get from the government. And it also means your kids can work anywhere they please on the continent too: and what’s more they won’t be stacking shelves. British win!” And just to underscore the point they could have timed a major public spending programme to the arrival of our Eastern European fellow toilers, being experts in the dark political arts and everything. They could have at least redirected some of the extra tax receipts that our new friends have contributed to the Treasury specifically to relieving what extra pressure there has been on schools, hospitals and other public services.
All else aside, Mrs Duffy was owed an explanation of the likely consequences of the government’s actions at the time. If she’d have been given one, Brown might not have made such an arse of himself now.
When our kid was young and he thought that there were monsters under the bed we tried to make it clear to him that not only were there no monsters under the bed but that there were no monsters full stop: because when you’re dealing with irrational fear what you need to make clear first of all is that there is nothing to be scared of.
What the government has done over immigration was firstly to tell people that there were no monsters coming here, thus confirming the notion that immigration is in fact something monstrous; then saying that there are monsters coming here, but don’t worry, we only let them in if we give them licenses and if we find any under your bed we’ll deport them. Sure enough, the treatment certain categories of migrant are subjected to is truly monstrous, when it’s not just foul and mean spirited. This is positive encouragement for people to see monsters where none exist. Finally, an old lady comes along and tells Gordon about the monsters under her bed and he calls her a bigot. Now the Tories are dancing about shouting WOO, MONSTERS! and Gordon’s doom is apparently sealed*. Welcome, Prime Minister, to the world you made.
See also Justin, from whom I have snaffled many links in the above.
*Maybe. On the other hand this seems to rest on a conviction that the “core Labour vote” is synonymous with the “confused Granny vote”, which strikes me as a version of the same metropolitan media condescension that metropolitan media types now like to accuse other metropolitan media and political types of. Hey, ho.