DAY 78

January 21st, 2014 § 0 comments

I expect that you were as shocked as I was to see that the tired strategists of old/new Labour are planning to court popularity – with whom? – by forcing benefit claimants to sit a ‘basic skills test’ in English, maths and IT. Why not Latin, you may well ask. Under the superannuated slogan of ‘tough love’, would you believe it? I think the term ‘oxymoron’ is hanging about in the wings waiting to be applied. When are we going to apply some tough love to the bankers? (And was it tough love of which St Paul spoke in 1 Corinthians? I think it was a softer kind.)paul

Paul (El Greco)

No, the group really battening on us taxpayers, refusing to raise their skills, and in desperate need of re-education, are of course the pensioners. These pathetic relics, many of them unable or unwilling to learn to text or even to use a TV remote, let alone download and install Windows Vista, absorb huge sums in pensions and other handouts while not offering any skills in exchange. Worse, they drain the NHS of funds by continually falling over in the streets or requiring hip replacements and triple bypasses.And to cap it all, they have managed by a gigantic con to reclassify their incompetence and shiftlessness as ‘Alzheimer’s Disease’, and raise billions in a fruitless search for a cure.

cezanneIncompetent old lady (Cézanne)

Surely it would be a popular move to reeducate these parasites in the skills which every benefit claimant has – almost instinctively. (Regardless of paper qualifications like GCSE’s, which frankly don’t get you a job anyway.) For example, they could learn to spend a night clubbing under the arches at London Bridge, while texting six random friends to arrange meetings. Or they could follow a course in scoring on Friday night in Camden Town. And finally, like all other recipients of benefits, they could be asked to fill in a 16-page form listing all their previous employments with dates, addresses, postcodes, reasons for leaving etc. (On an Excel spreadsheet.)

If that doesn’t cure the so-called Alzheimers, it should stop them from drawing attention to it. Tough Love indeed. I offer this programme to Mr Miliband and his minions as a means of both courting cheap popularity and saving the nation untold millions.

I realize that in my little ‘Nobels’ squib on the previous posting (does stabbing your wife disqualify you from a prize?) I completely forgot the so-called ‘Peace’ prize, which has been awarded to the following massive-scale criminals: Henry Kissinger – notoriously, Le Duc Tho refused to share it with him; Menachem Begin; Yitzhak Rabin; Barack Obama (for what? he was carrying out drone strikes at the time of the award). And others, who don’t come to mind right now. I can’t think why Norman Mailer failed to qualify, unless it was that a) he didn’t actually kill anyone or b) his writing wasn’t up to scratch. Read ‘An American Dream’ and judge for yourself.

Sport (From a correspondent)

It looks as though England are poised to retain the Ashes. If you aren’t fixated on the male game, that is (in which the Australians wiped the floor with us). The women’s team are well ahead, with victories in Perth and Melbourne; and the trophy will be ours if Charlotte Edwards’ lasses can carry the day at Melbourne tomorrow. I’m slightly confused about what ashes are contained in the trophy, but that’s what you get from doing internet research late at night._72230019_edwards_fields_getty

Poetry Corner

Away with Leavis and fashionable  - well, it used to be fashionable – modernism! If the Tate and the V & A can wallow in 19th century decadence, so can I. Here’s Swinburne’s ‘The Garden of Proserpine.’

Here, where the world is quiet;
         Here, where all trouble seems
Dead winds’ and spent waves’ riot
         In doubtful dreams of dreams;
I watch the green field growing
For reaping folk and sowing,
For harvest-time and mowing,
         A sleepy world of streams.
I am tired of tears and laughter,
         And men that laugh and weep;
Of what may come hereafter
         For men that sow to reap:
I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
         And everything but sleep.
Here life has death for neighbour,
         And far from eye or ear
Wan waves and wet winds labour,
         Weak ships and spirits steer;
They drive adrift, and whither
They wot not who make thither;
But no such winds blow hither,
         And no such things grow here.
No growth of moor or coppice,
         No heather-flower or vine,
But bloomless buds of poppies,
         Green grapes of Proserpine,
Pale beds of blowing rushes
Where no leaf blooms or blushes
Save this whereout she crushes
         For dead men deadly wine.
Pale, without name or number,
         In fruitless fields of corn,
They bow themselves and slumber
         All night till light is born;
And like a soul belated,
In hell and heaven unmated,
By cloud and mist abated
         Comes out of darkness morn.
Though one were strong as seven,
         He too with death shall dwell,
Nor wake with wings in heaven,
         Nor weep for pains in hell;
Though one were fair as roses,
His beauty clouds and closes;
And well though love reposes,
         In the end it is not well.
Pale, beyond porch and portal,
         Crowned with calm leaves, she stands
Who gathers all things mortal
         With cold immortal hands;
Her languid lips are sweeter
Than love’s who fears to greet her
To men that mix and meet her
         From many times and lands.
She waits for each and other,
         She waits for all men born;
Forgets the earth her mother,
            The life of fruits and corn;
And spring and seed and swallow
Take wing for her and follow
Where summer song rings hollow
         And flowers are put to scorn.
There go the loves that wither,
         The old loves with wearier wings;
And all dead years draw thither,
         And all disastrous things;
Dead dreams of days forsaken,
Blind buds that snows have shaken,
Wild leaves that winds have taken,
         Red strays of ruined springs.
We are not sure of sorrow,
         And joy was never sure;
To-day will die to-morrow;
         Time stoops to no man’s lure;
And love, grown faint and fretful,
With lips but half regretful
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
         Weeps that no loves endure.
From too much love of living,
         From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
         Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
         Winds somewhere safe to sea.
Then star nor sun shall waken,
         Nor any change of light:
Nor sound of waters shaken,
         Nor any sound or sight:
Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
Nor days nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
         In an eternal night.
 and, under music; another timeless classic – the 17-year-old Joan Baez singing ‘Oh, Freedom’ in 1958. (If the link works.)

 

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