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.

Cameron flat-footed on Scotland?

David Cameron’s speech in Scotland this week has been described as a “political masterstroke“.

Well, I hope it is. The United Kingdom without Scotland would be a collection of spare parts, rather than a nation. But, as I’ve said before, if the Scots say “we’re oooooout” then so be it.

But, is it just me? Whenever Cameron makes any sort of statement on Scotland’s status, it just seems embarrassing. This business of considering further powers for Scotland if the Scots vote “no” to independence just seems like a nasty bit of blackmail to me. He’s making it up as he goes along, it seems. While, Salmond has been planning this carefully for years.



Huhne and Pryce – Gilbert and Sullivan style

Via Matthew Norman in the Telegraph:

Judge: Whoever you are, you will sit in the dock.
You, sir, in your suit, and you, ma’am, in your frock

A Cabinet Minister you may well once have been

In the land of economics you may be a queen

But the wheels of justice care not for your stock

So whoever you are, you will sit in my dock

Chorus: Oh whoever you are, you will sit in his dock

Yes, whoever you are, you will sit in that dock.

I think that is based on “I am so proud” from the Mikado, which goes:

To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock

In a pestilential prison with a life-long lock

War Horse cinematographer Janusz Kaminski deserves an Oscar

Part of our “back to nature” experience earlier this week was a visit to the Magic Lantern cinema in Tywyn. What a marvellous place! And we saw “War Horse” which is a fantastic film. It gets a bit schmaltzy at the end, but generally it is superb.

I was particularly impressed by the cinematography. The pictures of the horse going through no-man’s land and the trenches are just mind-blowingly brilliant.

Janusz Kaminski is the cinematographer responsible. He deserves an Oscar for “Warhorse”, which will be his third. There is one shot of the horse running towards the camera along a trench, with bombs exploding in the darkness behind him – it is just stunning and deserves an Oscar on its own – just for that shot.

I hope Kaminski gets an Oscar and I hope “Warhorse” gets plenty of other Oscars.

And I hope “The Iron Lady” gets none (Pass the spittoon!).

Carol Thatcher's "A swim-on part in the goldfish bowl"

During my stay up eight trees, I read through Carol Thatcher’s “A swim-on part in the goldfish bowl“. It’s an entertaining little book which relates some aspects of Carol Thatcher’s childhood, which I found engrossing. It then relates the story of Maggie Thatcher via little anecdotes.

The style is all a little bit “jolly hockeysticks” for me.

But Carol Thatcher deserves full marks for broaching the subject of her mother’s dementia.

It is a shame that her honesty was rather taken advantage of by the makers of “The Iron Lady“.