DAY 28

February 18th, 2013 § 0 comments

Hats off to Vivienne Westwood


for pointing out that  Duchess Kate “Let them eat horse” Cambridge is not going to the launderette often enough, preferring to change outfits every day and drop yesterday’s clothes on the floor for the lackeys to bin.


Gillray: Matrominial (?) Harmonics

Having observed the papers in a permanent rage over the salaries of the unfortunate fatcat bankers etc, the blog started to wonder how the salaries of the Duchess and her in-laws compare with those of the said fatcats – after all, we finance them, along with the NHS and the Afghan war, through our taxes. Should they not spend more of their clothing budget at charity shops, so that it might drip down to us, the starved contributors? (As a side issue, on the basis that it is in the public domain, surely Buckingham Palace should be deemed a council house, and its owners subjected to a bedroom tax? I know this wouldn’t totally rescue the economy, but it could help.)

OK, we didn’t elect the bankers either; but it appears that the queen has been messing around with legislation (e.g. on Iraq), for years. No, friends, excessive changing of clothes is probably the least of the undisclosed crimes of the miserable Windsor clan. (A warning for Kate’s benefit on how they have been known to deal with rebellious daughters-in-law was suppressed by the censorship.) A la lanterne!

As I write this, Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi is still alive in jail after 200 days, but perhaps not for long; the authorities have jailed his brother and friends for protesting his continued detention. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign suggest writing your MP to pressure the Government  - well, do whatever you can. While those of you who have been worrying that by advocating boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure the Israeli government, you may be guilty of antisemitism and should shut up, may find yourselves eloquently defended  in an excellent speech by Judith Butler (must stop advertising her, unless I get some return).

On calendars

If you pick up the local paper, the Midi Libre, in Montpellier, (you’ve decided against L’Humanité or can’t get it), you turn to the back page as the front is too exciting:

Screen shot 2013-02-16 at 12.34.09

Having read the weather, the horoscope (always the best bit) and the recipe, you find the section devoted to today’s saint. This will tell you the life of the saint, folk-sayings about planting potatoes on the day, and character traits of people who are named after him/her. All this culture, of course, which is still alive in the Languedoc, we lost when Hilary Mantel’s idol Mr Cromwell did away with Popery. Leaving us only with St Valentine’s day (hence these meditations), St George’s day as a feeble patriotic/Tory fest, and Halloween. Rather than take the frankly reactionary step of reinstating the whole pantheon of saints, I suggest a secular calendar of festivals. Lovers of Peanuts have for decades celebrated Beethoven’s birthday on 16th December; Marx’s birthday is the 5th of May, and Freud’s, coincidentally, the 6th. Virginia Woolf’s was January 25th, Jimi Hendrix’s November 27th. And we have the anniversaries of various revolutions, strikes, executions of kings and so on. I am at the moment too lazy, or too involved in other projects, to fill up the calendar as it should be done, but perhaps readers would like to help. I would like simply to warn them of the notorious ‘Birthday Theorem’ much loved by teachers of probability theory, which holds that if you pick 23 people at random, the chance that two of them have the same birthday is better than 50%, see for example ‘Probability of Shared Birthdays‘. (With 60 people it’s about 99%.) So the task of filling the calendar may take longer than one would like.

Of course one advantage of Catholicism (why is this so much on my mind these days?), or at least a formalistic Christianity of a hoity-toity kind, is that for the next forty days of Lent you’ll be spared the dangers of horsemeat, as your Dawkinsite or Zoroastrian friends carry carelessly on with their Tesco Value Lasagna. Stick to lentils and the occasional anchovy, and you should be safe.

Here, ‘for no reason’, as they say, is Mayakovsky’s last poem, with its thoughts on love, boats, and everyday life. I can’t guarantee the translation. Or, for that matter, the original. Take it as you find it.

Past one o’clock you’re probably in bed

The Milky Way is like Oka of silver

No need for me to rush I have no reasons left

to stir you with the lightnings of my cable fever

And so they say the incident dissolved

the love boat smashed up on the dreary routine

We’re even there’s no use in keeping the score

of mutual hurts affliction and spleen

Look here the world exudes an eerie calm

The night demands tribute in constellations

in hours like these I’d like to be the one

with ages history and the creation


Уже второй должно быть ты легла

В ночи Млечпуть серебряной Окою

Я не спешу и молниями телеграмм

Мне незачем тебя будить и беспокоить

как говорят инцидент исперчен

любовная лодка разбилась о быт

С тобой мы в расчете и не к чему перечень

взаимных болей бед и обид

Ты посмотри какая в мире тишь

Ночь обложила небо звездной данью

в такие вот часы встаешь и говоришь

векам истории и мирозданью


(Isn’t it nice to see the odd bit of a non-Roman alphabet, even if you haven’t a clue what it means?)


Music corner

I’ve mentioned the banks; here’s Les Rice’s song ‘The Banks are Made of Marble’, Pete Seeger version. Keep it simple.



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