Archive for August 27th, 2007

I discovered today, from reading Tim Hames in The Times, that the August Bank holiday was ‘pushed through Parliament in 1871 at the behest of Sir John Lubbock MP, a prominent banker, archaeologist and author.’ Lubbock’s idea was that ‘allowing the masses to have the first Monday in August free would enable them to engage in reading and self-improvement.’ (A succession of non globally warmed, disastrously rainy, summers prompted a later government to move the holiday to the end of August).

Hames relates that that Sir James Lubbock was ‘aggrieved to discover that these modern day savages headed for the beach to get blotto instead.” It did not help Sir James’ big idea that no sooner was his Bank Holidays Act passed than public libraries declared that they would be closed on Bank holidays. Wonderfully British.

Now of course, we have proposals for a ‘British Day’ in late November where we can all celebrate being wonderfully British. Patronising nonsense in my view. Just give us another Bank holiday, between September and December, to see us through to the next binge drinking festival of Christmas and just let us all get on with the business of getting ‘blotto’ or… whatever we want to do on Bank Holidays.

Apparently, England and Wales has fewer bank holidays than most of our continental neighbours and even Scotland has one more bank holiday with St Andrew’s day (November 30) being a new holiday. Mind you… don’t the Scots also take the 2nd January off?

Plodberrys… the new technology to help Plod reclaim the streets of Britain

The Police are to be given Blackberrys to allow them to ‘maximise their time on the beat’. Plod will now be able to download all sorts of official information in their unceasing and unswerving drive to reclaim the streets of Britain. These ‘Plodberrys’ are to be equipped with a ‘poison pill’ to ensure that data can be wiped remotely at a moment’s notice should they fall into the hands of criminal elements. I would imagine that these hand held devices will also be useful for phoning through orders to local Cafes for bacon sandwiches. (Times 27th August)

Veteran film maker Stephen Frears did not find Jeremy Paxman’s lecture in Edinburgh on the systemic failure in British television to his taste.

“Paxman’s a vandal, a sort of Viking, an absolute savage. He should be taken out and shot. He’s like something out of Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Not Ned East either, not Tom brown. He’s Flashman, a beating prefect’, said Frears.

Well… I am reassured to know, as I approach the last half century of my current life, that articulate, reasoned and thoughtful debate is still being practised by film making luvvies. My Beautiful Laundrette? (Frears 1985) An ‘important’, life changing film, or just a piece of entertainment? Frears objected to the way Paxo treated Sir Richard Eyre who was droning on about the death of Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman.

Eyre opined on Newsnight that Bergman was one of the three or four greatest artists of the 20th Century. Paxo’s response ? “He wasn’t exactly box office.”

I have no idea why, as soon as people are dead, we have to praise them beyond reason. Why can’t we speak ill of the dead? They can’t sue us… and if we found these newly dead people not to our taste in life, why should we suddenly change our view when they have ‘carked’ – as the Aussies like to describe death?

The Times is ‘smokin’ today (27 August)… I came across a short piece about “Saga Louts”…

Apparently older people are now causing concern in medical circles because of alcohol abuse. Today’s ‘Saga Lout’ … the Times reports, had ‘acquired a taste for drinking at home during the 1970s and 1980s when alcohol prices dropped and it became more socially acceptable.’

The truth of the matter is, of course, that the British have spent much of the last 1000 years roaring…. An even modest, GCSE level, acquaintance with our history will show that topers and many variants of alcohol have been at the very heart of our history in time of crisis and peace. Churchill had a fondness for the stuff and ran a reasonable war fuelled by Brandy and other alcohol based ’sharpeners’.

A Dr Rice, one of the latest medical Roundheads to come out of the woodwork and call for a hike in the price of alcohol, has told the think-tank “Scotland’s Futures Forum” of his concerns. “Older people’s drinking has not had the same public awareness as young people’s drinking. These are important trends.” He says.

Well yes… I take Dr Rice’s point. I accept, as I am sure many of my fellow coffin-dodgers will, that older topers feel absolutely no need, after a moderate, medically approved, consumption of Rioja et al, to run into the streets of Chiswick, throw cones at passing Police Community Support Officers, totter around in white high heels, pass out on the pavement, and then get up and dance until dawn.

For my part… I like to be in bed these days by midnight… timed by a carriage clock sent by the Insurance company as a free gift to accompany the death insurance policy when one turns 50… and that is what I tell all the doctors.

Charon, after a great deal of thought, has also decided not attend any memorial services this coming week.

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