100 (n.o.)

Gavaskar acknowledges the applause after another century

Goodbye to Social Distancing

Is it safe to go back into the water? Apparently so, according to the Dancing Bear anyway. Boris gave his valedictory daily update a couple of days ago (boy, did he ever regret promising that the British government would give the press a daily update on its covidnovid failures), has since come up with the nonsensical 1m+ measurement for social distancing and has shuffled off into the sunset after basically re-opening anything that was shut during the Kerfuffle.

And why is this? Has the UK suddenly become a safe place in which the virus has been suppressed or contained? Did Boris overnight find and institute a proper, German-like track and test system? Did his ‘world-leading’ scientists (anything British can never merely be described as ‘good’; it has to be the best in the World, or at least much better than whatever Johnny Foreigner can come up with) create a vaccine that will ensure the health and safety of the citizens of his Disunited Kingdom? Calm yourself, Jacinta, of course not. So, how come Boris is announcing the end to lockdown?

I’m sorry to say that the answer is that he just doesn’t care. The narcissism of Mr Johnson (link here, Question Girl, so that you do not need to use a dictionary) cannot be overestimated. The facts will help to bear this out. He fumbled and blustered his way through a pandemic that could have been managed much more successfully – and was in many other countries – and with far fewer deaths. The total number of deaths in the UK will end up much more than twice the 20,000 that was quoted as a good outcome at the start of the outbreak. In the light of such demonstrable incompetence, any leader worth his salt would fall on his own sword, or, at least, resign. While Boris might be worth his not inconsiderable weight in gold due to his extra-curricular activities, there is more salt in a ninety-nine.

He doesn’t care how many citizens of the country he somehow ended up running have died. He also doesn’t care how many more of them will die due to his relaxing of lockdown rules. Because none of them will be him: he has already had covidnovid, and all indications are that, even should he catch it again, it will not be life-threatening for him. So what he wants – and remember, as a narcissist, what he wants is all that matters – is for the restaurants he frequents to be open again so that he can get on with his normal, PC life. The relative danger both to customers and staff in such establishments is irrelevant to him.

He has also declared that schoolchildren will be going back to school full-time in September. Again, the risk to teachers and children of this decision is immaterial to the Dancing Bear: what matters is that, for his clapped-out economy to splutter into some sort of life again just in time for Brexit to finish it off for good, children are in school so that parents can go back to work. Yes, some of the children and teachers might get infected and die, but what does that matter in the grand scheme of things? Sure they were going to die eventually anyway.

Enough about him; let’s talk about me. In cricket – a much-maligned but actually very admirable sport – reaching a century of runs is considered a good knock for any batsman. Either of the opening batsmen in a Test Match (which lasts five days, Jacinta: stick that in your pipe, rugby and soccer players!) would be more than pleased to have the 100 (n.o.) after his name at the end of the opening day, meaning he has scored 100 runs and is not out, ie he will bat again the next day.

And so with me. This is day 100 of my lockdown, and, fictitious events described in this blog notwithstanding, I have not been out of my isolation shed since Day 1.

Me, one hundred days ago

So I am now, in my own way, 100 (n.o.). But that is about to change. I reckon it is about time the World saw a bit more of me, and my laptop a bit less. If it is good enough for Boris …

This is, therefore, the last post of the Kerfuffle era. SquareBracketsHead can go off and find himself another editing job somewhere, the Finance Director has two companies of her own to run and I have released the herd of PhD students back into captivity of the libraries which will soon re-open. My affairs are therefore in order, and I can venture out into this brave, new world with a clear conscience.

The novel is better, obviously

But what about youse, my 25 followers? [That sort of makes you a leader, you know? – Ed.] Well, my advice, for what it’s worth, is for you to go off and follow someone else, preferably someone going in the same direction as you. I am grateful for your interest in my ramblings, particularly to those of you who bothered to leave comments, but now I am, as the saying goes, outta here, I’m history, I’m yesterday’s Irish News.

Go dtaga bhur racht!


Day 94

A day out in Germany pre-Kerfuffle

Work sets you free … of leisure

You’ve heard of the Nazis I take it? Of course you have; sure you hang out on the interwobble, and so know about Godwin’s law for below the line discussions that dictates that the first one to mention the Nazis loses the argument. We should be thankful to the Nazis for this, as arguments are tricky things, and deciding who has won one is an even trickier pancake of a conundrum. The odd time, Part-Time Wife informs me that I am in an argument, and, quite often, this piece of information comes as a complete surprise to me. I’ll be pontificating away there, or in the middle of some amusing yet erudite monologue, presuming for all the World that what I am involved in is a discussion, or, at a pinch, a frank exchange of views, only to be informed that I am, in fact, engaged in an argument.

Of course, once this revelation moves its unsightly cranium from a lower position, the nature of the interlocution changes. For me, anyway, as Part-Time Wife presumably already knew she was in an argument. Once you find that you are in an argument, there are only two recommended courses of action: you should walk away from it – preferably at a fast pace – or you should win it. There is a third possible action – invading Poland – but that is not always either feasible or practical, depending on what clothes you are wearing and the military hardware at your disposal. Life being a series of minor competitions or tests, and your performance in them playing no small part in whether you see yourself as a winner or a loser, there is virtually nothing to be said for the coward’s way out of deliberately losing an argument in the hope of some nookie later on. A wank will do you, and winning the argument will do more for your self-esteem than an orgasm with a witness.

The Son and Heir has recently discovered the joys to be had in the cut and thrust of intellectual debate; more precisely, in ‘serving’ his opponent in such debates. Or arguments, as his mother calls them, as, to give him his Jew, Son and Heir generally picks her as his victim. He has learned well from David Attenborough films, and so identifies the weakest, smallest or youngest member of the tribe before launching his attack, the tribe in this instance being that group on which he and his siblings live as parasites, namely parents. I have even observed, from a safe distance, his parroting of some of my phrases while in the thick of the fray, gems such as, “This isn’t an argument, it’s a discussion,”, “That happened five minutes ago; stop dragging up the Past,” or even, “There’s no need to get angry about it just because you’ve realised you’re wrong.” He is a quick learner, and also smart enough – so far – not to take me on in his new hobby.

As an Arts graduate, I was, of course, trained to within an inch of my life in the skill of being able to state either side of any topic with equal conviction, and so arguing with the likes of me is like trying to pick up quicksilver. Without a moment’s notice, I will suddenly switch sides in an argument, prove the opponent’s point in a much more succinct and memorable way than she could ever hope to and – and here is the rub – go on to outline why the issue is irrelevant due to the absurdity of Man’s existence in a meaningless Universe. And all this before I have had my Weetabix, usually.

Useful phrase that, the one about the Universe and Man, and I learned it off by heart from the blurb on one of those novels I had to study when zooming through the upper echelons of the education system. I taught Female Teenager (not heir to anything, by the way, although she is the oldest) a similar phrase once as something to say out loud in art galleries to impress the other poseurs. The phrase, and you can have it for free, is, “I think this is indicative of the dual nature of mankind.” Try it out yourself; it works for almost any picture you might be looking at, particularly abstract ones.

Speaking of the education system, I see the race is on: Boris sent his guy out to bat after Marlene’s guy had shown his hand, and the English guy took full advantage by gazumping Peter Weir’s 54 page document on what the Hell is going to happen with schools come September. The Brits have promised all pupils back full-time with no more of this messing about on Google classroom and virtual learning. I have a dog in this fight, as I have already laid a fiver bet with my line manager that that is what will happen here as well, although that was mostly in an attempt to excuse myself from all the frantic planning that is going on at work in case it doesn’t happen. We shall find out after the Summer, but I would lay another fiver that by that stage parents will have derived the maximum benefit from the uninterrupted presence of their teenagers for five months, and are quite likely to deliver them to the school gates on 1 September and drive off in the direction of the nearest airport with a cheery, “See ya! They’re all yours now until Hallowe’en!”

And also on the education system, and things we should be grateful to the Nazis for. That extremely handy, though arbitrary, method of determining the outcome of an argument is not the only positive feature the Nazis left as a legacy for future societies. Had Hitler and his mates not done their thing, what on Earth would pupils study during their History lessons? Without all that rise to power, Nuremberg rallies and Final Solution stuff, there would be a gaping hole in the middle of the syllabus, and there just isn’t enough other history around to fill it.

You wish to contradict me? Join the queue, but be advised that I will win any ensuing competitive discussion.

Day 87

Distancing from its own past

God love the Brits! I suppose somebody has to, and it might as well be her, she being Love, apparently, in one of her guises. The resident, free-range, rogue teenagers would tell you – if they had regained the power of speech that day – that I am wont to employ the word ‘English!’ as a swear word. When I am not using more traditional swear words, that is, a habit out of which Róisín wishes I would grow (out of). She has the same misconception as my Ma and Part-Time Wife (two separate people there, but you are not getting an Oxford comma in here) regarding swear words, namely that they are a sign of a lack of vocabulary. While this can be true of bottom-feeding, unemployed-class scum, tis surely amiss when applied to the urbane sophisticate such as myself. And to other writers too. (It actually says ‘writer’ on the children’s birth certificate under father’s profession as I was unemployed at the time.) Sometimes, fuck is the most appropriate and most effective word for the situation, and sometimes knowing this is a sign of a sophisticated vocabulary. Less often, nigger is the correct word too, but you generally have to be a bit black to use it nowadays, unless you are talking about an Agatha Christie book or using an idiom such as ‘the nigger in the woodpile’.

But the Brits. What are we going to do with them come the Revolution? Like the US of Aers, they will, of course, be close to the front of the queue for the wall, but, also like the US of Aers (if you have not worked out yet why I do not use the word American to refer to inhabitants of the USA, you should go and learn Spanish), the Brits are a very mixed bunch. You have your bog standard, thick as pig’s shit Brit, but you also have the likes of the writer of this article who obviously understands a bit more than your average bear about the general opinion of Britain in what the inveterate colonialists invariably refer to as ‘the rest of the World’.

Is there any chance that now the protesting classes have learnt a drop of history (specialist subject: slavery), they will go on to complete the whole course and, consequently, hang their heads in shame for the rest of their lives? I doubt it, and, as yer man points out, part of the problem lies with the education system and, specifically but not exclusively, the history syllabus taught therein. That is quite apart from the constant churning out of bullshit propaganda about the Past by the BBC Drama Department. Stick an Irishman in charge of the history syllabus to be taught in English schools; that should solve that problem, providing you choose the right Irishman. An Irish woman would be no good; women have this skill of being able to see things from the other side’s point of view, and that is not what is required in this instance. It also, generally, stops them starting wars, which is, on the whole, a good thing. If they could stop men – or even the CIA – from starting wars, we might be on to something.

Speaking of Agatha Christie, and the re-titling of her nigger book, would youse care to take a guess as to what the next target of the virtue-signallers will be after they run our of statues to knock down? This Fawlty Towers episode was briefly censored (‘cancelled’ I think the current term is for getting rid of things that might trigger the sensitive wee souls) before, in a tremendous display of hypocrisy matched only by current pro-trans doublethink, being re-instated due to an outcry by the same great, British public that called for it to be banned in the first place. If de Gaulle actually did once remark that it was impossible to rule a country that had 246 varieties of cheese – and apparently he did – what hope has Boris the Dancing Bear got of finding consensus among a population that disagrees with itself when the wind changes direction?

Which brings me nicely to my favourite retort to Part-Time Wife when she informs me that she has come to a different opinion about some domestic matter of interior decoration that we spent my fortune on. She got a new washing machine the other day, for no discernible reason that I can work out as she still appears to have two hands and the hacienda is replete with running water of both sexes. Anyway, it gave/afforded (choose one or the other, consistent with your taste for low or high blown prose) me the opportunity to drop my bon mot once again, so I do not really mind that I cannot afford the extra expense this month.

“Dearest heart,” I opened, to put her off her guard, “see the next time you change your mind, could you get one that works?”

Shorts with wellies today, ripped T-Shirt and duncher. But I will have a shower, as Part-Time Wife has just thrown a bowl of Cornflakes over me for some reason. Downwards and sidewards; pull down a statue for me if you find yourself in an unthinking mob (there is no other type).

Day 44

Social Distancers of the World Unite

“The trees are coming into leaf/like something almost being said.”

A drop of poetry there to start you off this morning, and no better start to any morning, I say. Yesterday was national poetry day in Mexico, which must be a bit of a nuisance for people from Derry or Newry (neither of which are real cities, by the way). I mean, just say the prevailing wind blows a sonnet or two, or even a wispy simile, over the invisible border just outside either of those two conurbations? What is it going to do? Whither on the vine because some eejits nearly a century ago thought it would be a good idea to stuff two different jurisdictions into an island with a population smaller than that of Manchester? (Big guys, those Machunians.) Or hope that one of the inhabitants of the non-city has enough of the poet in her to catch it, shove it into the back of the car and drive it – in defiance of lockdown regulations – back over the border to safety in Mexico? Don’t hold your breath waiting on that one, is my advice to wind-blown sonnets and similes: there are about as many poetic souls in Derry and Newry as there are intellectual heavyweights in Stormont.

Philip Larkin, who said more than his prayers, wrote those lines quoted above, and he knew what he was (not) writing about. Because that is poetry for you in an acorn. (Hands up now if you thought ‘nutshell’ was about to come out of the automatic typing I practise here each day? Thanks for your honesty, now put this Dunce’s Cap on and sit at the back of the class facing the wall for the rest of the day.) The ineffable; things almost said: that is poetry’s job. If you want to actually, unambiguously state something, use prose (if you have been properly trained in the use of that weapon), or an Excel sheet, or something. I should know, I won a cup once for the ineffability of my poetry. Not that type of cup, you mug! This type of cup.

connla agus an corn

(The wee lad in the picture is also the subject of the winning poem, Connla, and related to me by marriage.)

So national poetry day in two thirds of this nation yesterday, international workers’ day in no thirds of it today. Because, while most of the rest of the world sticks its public holiday to celebrate workers on the actual day designated for it, the Mexicans, in their wisdom, have decided that the workers would prefer the Monday nearest to 1 May off rather than the actual day itself. Did anyone ask for the workers’ opinion on this? I, for one (and don’t be smart now, I do actually work, just not when I am auto-typing this stuff), do not recall a vote on the subject. Meanwhile those who think they are in charge of the Dis-United Kingdom have, in their wisdom, decided on a two-for-one package and moved the public holiday for workers to next Friday to double up as a celebration for VE Day. Again, I do not recall completing a postal ballot on this topic, do you? (Rhetorical, Shirleen, do not answer that one: I am still waiting, however, on your answer to what the essential elements of an Ulster Fry are.) And why on Earth (or on my own planet of Pluto, for that matter) would I want to either celebrate or remember a war that ended 75 years ago and one in which my team was not even playing? There are a sufficient number of wars currently going on in the world to exercise the energies of anyone who is actually interested in stopping wars, but maybe that is not the actual point of VE Day celebrations? [bit cynical there – Ed.] (not cynical enough – me.)

So anyway, here is my plan de guerre regarding this omnishambles of a fruck-up around a public holiday for workers, of which I am one. I am doing shite-all work today – I will virtually turn up in my virtual workplace, but not a drop of work will pass my lips, in  solidarność with my fellow workers in countries that know how to read a calendar. Similarly, as I do not recognise the Border (well, not since it got its hair cut), I will be doing fruck-all squared work on Monday to keep the Mexicans company, and then next Friday, because I am, if nothing else, a law-abiding citizen, under mis-government orders to boot, I shall officially do not one jot of work.

We will see how that strategy fits their ‘two-for-one, only give them one day off’ plans. You are more than welcome to steal this plan and adopt it as your own. Just don’t tell the KGB where you got it from. Tomorrow, when I am off, I will do a bit of work for youse and show youse that evidence of the Russian interwobble spy.

Oh, Boris made his come-back, stand-up comedy appearance last night. Not his best set, by any means, but cheering nonetheless to see the dancing bear back on its feet. Now which orifice did I stick my Maypole in after I was finished with it last year? There are certain politicians who sorely require to be beaten over the head with it.



Day 43

Are Cows Waterproof?

country kitchen

Any culchies reading this? Even pretend, blow-in culchies like Walter? Because I have a question about my cows. I do not actually own these cows, and neither does the man who owns the shit-flavoured field they are currently munching their way through. But the field is overlooked by part of the back garden of the estate which is overlooked by the bay window in the country-kitchen-style country kitchen which I am currently looking through while sitting at the country-kitchen-style country table you see in the picture above. Admittedly, in the picture, the table is in its Winter configuration so that the seatees at the table can benefit from the heat from the everything-burning stove which is just out of view to the left. But I could still look out the window from it were I seated in my rightful place at head of the table. Said table is currently in its Summer (I know, I am an eternal optimist) position in the bay window, and a change is as good as a rest to a blind man.

What I (slightly) want to know about cows is this: are those leather coats they are wearing not waterproof like the ones we used to buy in shops when we used to be allowed to go to shops are? Because, as it has remembered how to rain this morning, these wimpy cows – which are not mine, remember – are all gathered up under the shelter of the branches of some of my trees in the first wood, which happen to overhang part of the field which is beyond my back garden which is outside my bay window which is where I am currently sat. Exact enough locational detail for you, google? And for the FBI, CIA and conspiracy theory Trump Minions who read the interwobble for any mention of their despot? (Remind me to show you the successful result of the similar experiment about Russia I carried out some days ago.) So why would the cows, and the periods of seven days’ holiday from work, be in need of shelter of any kind giving that they are sporting leather coats, which should be waterproof, or else sent back to the manufactures with a strongly-worded complaint letter? The coats, not the cows; peel the cows first. And how much should I charge the guy who rents the field from the guy who owns it for this unwarranted, unrequested and, in all likelihood, unlegal use of the shelter provided by some of my trees? These and other conundrums will probably keep me safely away from any work work today.

There is a phrase in Irish which is currently at number seven in my top ten list of favourite phrases in Irish. Could I be bothered to look it up for youse and provide a link? OK, then, youse stay here and talk among yourselves in the Comments Section for a while while I go and get it (great use of two words together there to confuse Microsoft’s crap grammar checker; take my advice and pay for professional editing services) [Thank you! – Ed.] (I did not mean you, I meant me – me) [Oh! – Ed.] … shut up, now; I’m back! There you go, here is the link. Do you get the idea? So frucked-up to the eye-teeth are culchies about the whole subject of land that, in the dim and misty past when we all spoke garlic, they even made up a particular phrase for the dodgy son-in-law who they suspect of really marrying the farm and not the daughter. To explain the reference [new light out of old windows here – Ed.], Walter would be such a cliamhain isteach were he actually married to the woman whose cows he services in County Clare. (Not ‘services’ like that, though I would not put it past the same Walter.)

Although most of the rest of youse do not know Walter, youse actually do. Not my Walter, but a Walter. A Walter is that friend of yours whom your wife actually likes but who she wishes you would not go out on the piss with as she thinks he always gets you into trouble. What part-time wife does not realise or appreciate is, that for Walter’s part-time-common-law-wife, I am Walter. [Don’t you call my non-wife common! – Wltr] (Get the fruck out of those brackets right now! – me)

In Belfast slang all Walters are rockets: you never know when they are going to go off (on one) nor where they will end up. Re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere is also problematic for them, on occasion. But we need our rockets, I say. Boris is a rocket, and thank God he will be back today doing his stand-up routine at the daily farce that is the government’s update on how it is mismanaging the pandemic. He was on the piss yesterday wetting the head of what he claims is his fifth child, but there are those who suspect he uses imaginary numbers when computing the fruits of his loins. As for the fruits of his lions, that is anyone’s guess. (I object strongly to the name of that website I have just linked you to: maths is not fun; maths is maths, and fun is fun. People should have paid more attention in Logic:101, or do they not teach that in primary school anymore? Please look away now while I wrestle this mugger bracket to the ground.)

So, answers on a postcard, usual prizes, terms & conditions apply. Are cows waterproof?