Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Fish, Quince, Mulberries, Spanish Armada, Sex, Lies and Stereotyping


Summer draws on in the Silly Season of our Disunited Kingdom, and age-old conflicts and prejudices are being brought out for another airing, for want of something better to do. We are a nation of bored children at this time of year, when the real children are on holiday.

The sovereignty of Gibralta is being squabbled about again, and - also again - the excuse is fish. Ok, Spain eats more fish than just about anyone else, but I can't help thinking that there is a deeper motive (of course). When Britain ruled the waves, they were only second to Spain, so it's nice to see the old Elizabethan competition being brought out of the cupboard for the season, for about the 400th time. I never get bored with it.

Barristers are also hitting the headlines by fulfilling the stereotype set by off-this-planet judges, when they accused a 13 year-old girl of being 'predatory' and 'provocative', as a mitigating factor when sentencing her 41 year-old abuser. Someone had to take them to one side and point out that when girls of this age behave in a sexually provocative manner, it is usually because they have been sexually abused a few times in the past, and their behaviour is simply a way of trying to understand it. I actually prefer the idea of the adversorial judiciary system, but you really have to be careful about how you talk to and treat abused children when grasping for straws as you defend your client. I would have thought that was taken for granted, but obviously not.

Because the BBC has nothing particularly political to report right now, they gave a lengthy airing to a prominent MEP for the UKIP party, who said he was echoing the opinions of the millions who listen to Radio 4 - if not the entire nation - when he said that we should stop giving aid in the form of tax-payer's hard-earned income to people in 'Bongo-Bongo Land', so that they could buy RayBan sunglasses and book expensive holidays in Paris.

I think that the absolute worst thing about UKIP (which has become the political wing of the National Front) is they they infallibly seek out the lowest common-denominator when addressing the Great British Public, and stir things up in times of hardship, so that the scum rises to the surface and floats on the top until all the bubbles burst again.

As it happens, I think it is crazy that the UK gives £millions to India which, rather than addressing the problems of hardship amongst the lower castes, spends billions on a space program and a Formula One schedule, but when UKIP talk about 'Bongo-Bongo Land', they are not talking about India, they are making childishly racist insults to starving black Africans and they pretend to be too damned stupid to realise that Africa is made up of many different countries with many different levels of wealth and poverty - from the richest Nigerians to children whose stomachs are bloated for lack of food, and whose mothers who are so hungry that they cannot produce the milk to feed their own babies. As all this is going on, we in the West are still speculating on food as a commodity - even the Church of England.

There is one seasonal delight in this country that I would not miss though - mulberries. In the autumn, it's quince, but right now that tree in the churchyard is covered in berries. Like quince, they are so Elizabethan. They also make you look as though you have just committed a horrible murder when you have picked a handful like this, which is an added bonus.


20 comments:

  1. Pithy indeed. I completely agree with everything you say. I was sneering at the radio in disbelief at each successive airing of Mr UKIP and wasn't sure how appropriate Mr Humphries' comment about him being amusing was. Sorry that sounded a bit 'Are You Being Served?'.

    Haven't had mulberries for years....very envious.

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    1. I think it was Mr Naughtie's actually, but since he was obviously dumbfounded with the comment, I think he was trying to diffuse it... maybe...

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  2. I have just returned from taking two of my grandchildren to pick the first of the Blackberries. Half way through our picking a bloody tractor came down the track and slashed at all the brambles.... so, no more Blackberries this year. The bastards.

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    1. At least Malawi's infamous $33 million private jet, and fleet of Mercs, was bought with Scottish 'AID', otherwise I might have been a tad miffed.

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    2. Other well-meaning projects have included fleets of brand-new tractors, now lying idle. In this case, it was the tractor-manufacturers who gained the most.

      Once we can get away from the notion that these poorer countries are there simply to be exploited as new markets rather than actually helped, then maybe 'we' could instigate some more highly successful small-loan, low interest-rate credit systems to REAL people who would actually USE the money for what it was intended - getting back on their feet.

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  3. Oh, Tom, I have missed you over the past weeks! Am agreeing with everything you have written. I wonder what they will be going on about tomorrow. As for Bongo-bongo Land, initially, I thought they were talking about Berlusconi -- being in another room and unable to hear any details ;-)

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    1. There's another miscarriage of justice, as far as he's concerned. Welcome back, Broad!

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  4. I couldn't have put it better myself Tom - I agree with every single word you have said. You and I would get along fine were we ever to meet 'in the flesh' so to speak.#As for mulberries - I haven't seen a mulberry tree since going to Burwell near Newmarket when I was about twelve and eating myself silly on them. My mouth is watering as I write this.

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    1. Even the seeds are the right texture, unlike raspberries - lovely though raspberries are.

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  5. To conclude with a tribute to mulberries--I thought they lived in story books and were small and round. One time at a show in Louisville I stood under a tree putting messy fruit on the ground, and learned they were mulberries. The natives were completely unimpressed and could not believe I even tried one. I enlisted northern friends staying at the same motel and over the course of the day we picked a couple of quarts. We enjoyed them that night, on the patio, with cream, from our motel water glasses. A good time.

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    1. Yes indeed - I had a friend with a bountiful mullberry tree, and each year we would go round with a ladder and take the things they did not want - why would you not want to eat your own mulberries?!

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    2. I don't think I have ever eaten one
      There's a boring Welshman for you

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    3. I would send you some, but they do not survive any longer than five hours in Tupperware, which is why you never see them fresh in the market. Seasonal fruit at it's most truculent, look you.

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  6. Dear Tom,
    Just leaving the deck chair on my balcony (well - it's only a chair, no deck) to cast a glimpse into the (Inter)net - till then I was too lazy to open my eyes - but your monosyllable header made me blink. I see that the world has turned further, as funny and mad as ever, even without my help, so I raise my Berliner Weiße (not! my favourite beer) and tell you and H.I. Cheers!

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    1. I have just been round yours and asked yo what Berliner Weißer is - and I have just found the 'ß' symbol too - how clever am I?

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    2. Oh, and cheers to y`ou too - "Trußßt in me, jußßt in me..."

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    3. "Yeßß, ßßir!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBk0QauAbHw

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    4. Thank you - I love Zarah Leander.

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