Thought for the day

One likes to believe in the freedom of music,
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity.

For the words of the prophets were written on the studio wall,
Concert hall
And echoes with the sounds of salesmen. Of salesmen. Of salesmen.

‘The Spirit of radio’ by Rush, inspired by Toronto’s station CFNY.

There are some very interesting notes on this song here.

I think I have more or less settled on this song (full album version) to be played at full tilt at the end of my funeral – date to be arranged by the great umpire in the sky.

Have a watch of it on this live video of them on stage in Toronto. This is what is called “balls out” or as our American cousins would say, if you’ll pardon the expression: “This kicks ass”.

One of Prince Charles' favourite poems…

I’m a Republican so I don’t care. But I do like this as well.

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament – you against me!

Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

Her father’s euonymus shines as we walk,
And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
To the six-o’clock news and a lime-juice and gin.

The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath,
The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path,
As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.

On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

The Hillman is waiting, the light’s in the hall,
The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
And there on the landing’s the light on your hair.

By roads “not adopted”, by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o’clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
Oh! strongly adorable tennis-girl’s hand!

Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I’m engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

John Betjemen


For you are with me

The LORD is my shepherd,

I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,

for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

NHS reforms: Lib Dems submit emergency motion to spring conference

From the Guardian:

Liberal Democrat activists have submitted an emergency motion on NHS reforms to their spring conference in a last-ditch effort to persuade the party leadership to oppose the bill.

The motion calls for the entire section of the bill extending competition in the health service to be scrapped – as a minimum.

The group is trying to row behind the Liberal Democrat peer Lady Williams, who has called for part three of the bill – devoted to extending competition – to be ditched. But some of the activists believe the bill is beyond repair and should be dropped altogether.

In praise of Fanny Craddock, Johnny Craddock, Lord Bonkers and male chastity devices

In fact, this is a piece about amusing titles. I chuckled at Lord Bonkers’ Diary’s title:

Lord Bonkers’ Diary: Fanny Craddock and the Great Train Robbery

…But I am one of that dwindling band of people who remember dear Fanny and her hubby Johnny – who was a sort of pre-Denis Thatcher.

And then I saw that title at least equalled, if not trumped, by this one on Political Wire, a US website by Taegan Goddard which is so engrained in my daily routine that I want it somehow represented (possibly on an outsized iPad) at my funeral:

Santorum Good for Chastity Belt Sales?

(You could take that two ways if you are a reader of Urban Dictionary)

I clicked on the link to Amazon female chastity belts and was amazed to see that there are in fact chastity devices available for….ahem…..gentlemen. Amazon sell one called a CB-6000S which features:

Numbered plastic locks included (which) allow wearer to go through metal detectors without setting off alarms

Well that’s the worst that could happen isn’t it? Go through a metal detector at Heathrow and the darned thing goes off like a Christmas Tree because one is wearing one’s male chastity device.


If Maynard Keynes had been buried, he would now be spinning in his grave

I always like to do the most minimal research for these things. John Maynard Keynes’ ashes were scattered over the South Downs. Otherwise the title of this piece would have been:

Hark! Is that the sound of John Maynard Keynes rotating in his grave?

I refer, of course, to Greece.

The Greek problem will go on and on and on until someone realises that to encourage growth you have to spend public money on public works. Build dams, roads, railways, leisure facilities, hospitals, schools, get people to paint stones white, dig up ditches and fill them in again – anything.

That is the only way you will stimulate growth and get the accelerator effect going – paying money to people to do public works, they then buy good or services from others and slowly the economy recovers.

You don’t do it by tight arsed, anally retentive, Germanic austerity packages alone.

And if you think I am talking rubbish, just look at the States. They had the most Keynesian of public works packages (a $787billion stimulus plan as well as $600 billion thrown out of a helicopter) and they are recovering – ish.

Whoa! Romney isn't meant to do this badly

I am getting worried.

A few weeks ago I was sure that Mitt Romney would win the US Republican Presidential nomination. He’d be nicely battered and bruised and the Democrats would have a fat file of YouTube and news clips to use against him (“I like firing people“/”I am not concerned about the very poor“/”Let Detroit go bankrupt” etc). But he would win.

However, it is now becoming possible that he might not win the nomination. Oh dear. Rick Santorum has been ahead in a string of national polls and is fourish points ahead in Michigan. Yes, Michigan, where Romney’s father was Governor and which Romney (sort of) claims as a “sort of” home state.

Veteran commentator Walter Shapiro has put it all very pithily:

THE MITT ROMNEY CRISIS transcends the seven straight national polls showing Rick Santorum in the lead. It goes beyond the embarrassing reality that the son of an auto executive and two-term governor has been behind in every Michigan poll conducted since Groundhog’s Day. Even more devastating for Romney is that elite Republicans have begun to conclude that he cannot, if nominated, beat Barack Obama. About the only argument that still works for Romney among GOP insiders is that he would be less of a drag on the ticket than the strident Santorum or the mercurial Newt Gingrich.

With the exception of Mike Dukakis (what is it about governors of Massachusetts?), it is impossible to recall a top-tier presidential contender who aroused such little passion among the voters.