"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Saturday 23 February 2013


GSOH noun n
I have always considered myself to have a good sense of humour. Actually if I am completely honest, maybe it is a little bit left of field and when my giggles become uncontrollable I tend to hide. However this week has tested me a little.
Humour can be very subjective. Add in the written sort and any mischief from the media and it can become tricky. Jonathan Swift found this in 1729 when he published his satirical pamphlet A Modest Proposal . Originally headed
A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick 
it was intended to shock those outside Ireland, by use of the Juvenalian Satirical essay style, into an awareness of the terrible living conditions of the poor in Ireland at the time. Yet there are still to this day those who upon reading it for the first time take it at face value and believe that Swift really meant that the poor should practise cannibalism! And in places on the world wide web the odd out of context quote from the pamphlet can be found to prove this. Something which I find rather funny.
Earlier this week there was rather a kerfuffle when the media became aware of a lecture given by the novelist Hilary Mantel some time ago. This lecture - it is really necessary to read the whole thing - was published in the London Review of Books and Mantel - a historian as well as a novelist - discusses how the public have perceived Royalty, and perhaps more importantly been led to perceive Royalty since the Middle Ages. And inevitably present day Royals, in the person of the Duchess of Cambridge, became part of the discussion. 
So this meant that present day media - also part of Mantel's discussion - found a nice 'quote' to take out of context and slammed the author for her 'spitefulness' against the Duchess. Even David Cameron and Ed Milliband commented, proving that their advisors hadn't read the whole piece either. My sense of humour was sadly lacking as I found nothing funny in this mass attack on a stimulating lecture by a good writer. GSOH bypass on my part, obviously.
But the same media, a couple of days later presented another Royal, praising his sense of humour. Yes dear old Prince Phillip. Who made a 'joke' to a Filipino nurse at a hospital he was visiting that her county 'must be half empty – you're all here running the NHS'. I found this unfunny and racist. GSOH bypass again and it was suggested on facebook that I didn't have a sense of humour when I commented in answer to someone else thus.
So it seems as if the World has Turned Upside Down, humour-wise anyway. That phrase is from a Civil War ballad. Which included Royalty in a big way too.

And now for the only joke I can ever remember:
What do you call three holes in the ground?
Well, well, well.

Photo courtesy of Is sense of humour quantifiable?


Monday 18 February 2013

Its the Same with Capitalism All Over

Its the same with Capitalism all over
Its the Poor what gets the blame......
Its the Rich what gets the profit
 Its always the c****** same

[with apologies to the old music hall song]
I am feeling pretty annoyed actually. I am having trouble dredging up my sense of humour. Normally I can laugh even at my political opponents and their weird, not to say mad, ideas. But this weekend it seems as if there has been a united front to blame the poor [aka working classes, unemployed, benefit claimants and disabled]
Purveyors of spin seem to have been working flat out. We had the head of Iceland blaming schools, hospitals etc demands for cheap meals for the use of horsemeat in their economy meals [see photo and link above, thank you to Politics UK facebook page for this] [I seem to remember that such institutions are mandated by government to tender for cheapest prices. A discussion for another day, obviously]
Iain Duncan-Smith appearing on the Andrew Marr show yesterday changed a discussion on whether or not Job seekers 'forced' to work for nothing but their job seekers allowance in various 'work experience' placements should in fact receive more than the job seeker allowance into a discussion on whether Graduates feel that working in a supermarket stacking shelves is beneath them. It follows a High Court ruling on the case of Cait Reilly. Anyone following the case of Cait Reilly will know that was not the argument and the link in this paragraph leads to info for those who have not followed it. But Duncan-Smith was neatly attempting to deflect attention from the ruling of the High Court Judge and the thinking behind the whole 'work experience' issue.
Boris Johnson decided to weigh in with a plea for those in the underprivileged class who may be in line for paying mansion tax. In his column in The Telegraph last week, he described the tax as 'nihilistic class war' and said it would prevent these poor home owners from carrying out necessary repairs thus:

If you see one of those damp patches appear on the ceiling – about the size and colour of a poppadom – you should just lie back and watch it grow. If the floorboards yawn open, just cover the gap with cardboard. Never mind the state of the downstairs lavatory. A faint aroma of ammonia never hurt anyone. Drip from the ceiling? Shove a bucket under it.

Rather an insult to other London citizens who are living in less sumptous properties or worrying about being hit with the bedroom tax. [Surely that is more a case for 'nihilistic class war? And isn't 'nihilist class' an oxymoron?] And whilst we are on the subject of bedroom tax, if one is living in an overcrowded property, could one claim a rebate of rent, a sort of anti-bedroom tax? Just wondering.
BTW the last line of the bowdlerised verse at the head of the blog has a word beginning with 'c' which has been censored. If you watch the wonderful Stella  with Ruth Jones on Sky TV, it is Rhiannon's favourite word!
Bad mood expunged. Now to do some c***ing housework.

Saturday 9 February 2013

Richard the Third or why I won't curtsey to the Royal Family

Our house has 'gone Richard the Third mad'. I admit to my geekiness and my countdown on Monday morning until the time when the results of the tests on the skeleton discovered in the car park in    Leicester would be announced was really quite sad. But when I posted about this on Facebook I was gratified to find that a great many others were joining me in my geekiness and were equally excited.

Even Other Half and his comrades who were at Transport House on Monday were apparently checking their 'phones every few minutes to find out the latest news.

So given that we all like and mystery and a solution, why all the excitement? Well a 500 year old gap between mystery and solution of the question 'Was Richard really a hunchback?' is obviously a starter although the far more important 'Did he really kill/order the murder of the 'little princes'?' obviously cannot be solved via the discovery of his skeleton and until the invention of a time travel machine I don't suppose it ever will. But for me, I think the discovery signifies more than that.

Go back nearly 450 years and what did Kingship really mean? It meant that the strongest in battle achieved the crown, basically. OK, so there had to be the implied inheritance issues that B descended from A, or A's father or whomever - but when the cards were down it became a question of who could get the most followers on their side [sounds a bit like the battle for a political party leadership today, doesn't it]

And on the inheritance issue - well legitimaticy and kinship needn't stand in one's way. Richard the third wanted to succeed to the throne of his brother Edward the Fourth on his death, he didn't let obstacles like their brothers and sisters born in between them stand in their way. No - he just declared them illegitimate - thus accusing his mother as being serially unfaithful to their father [although funnily enough  true to their father when Richard - the youngest of the family - was conceived] And the fact that Edward the Fourth had children to suceed him didn't deter Richard either. He just declared the marriage between Edward and the children's mother invalid - thus the children became illegitimate too and fortuitously the new heir was Richard.

The boys were probably murdered just to make sure that support could not be raised in their names and the discovery of two skeletons of young boys in the Tower of London in 1674 seems to confirm this.

Richard was King for two years before being killed at Bosworth Field in 1485 and Henry the Seventh aceeding to the throne and founding the Tudor dynasty.

Perhaps this very potted version of the way we have planted the seeds of our present royal family tree explains why I don't actually subscribe to the whole 'Aren't they wonderful' point of view. Simply because someone managed to raise more followers than someone else and was thus able to kill that someone else and declare himself king [Henry the Seventh] doesn't make him a God inspired better than the common man type of bloke. It actually just makes him a bit like the type of man who ruled the East End in the 1950s and 1960s. [If you tell anyone I said that I could end up in the Tower of London. So be careful] And his descendants, although very rich and having interesting ancestors - should we have to curtsey to them? I think not.

And it also doesn't explain why I was so excited on Monday morning. Maybe because I love mysteries and history. Or just because I am truly a geek. You decide. Meanwhile I will be watching Shakespeare's Richard the Third and reading Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time  Whatever the rights and wrongs of Richard the Third, he inspired some great literature and non-fiction books!

This blog is dedicated to Dick, who was the first one to crack the Richard the Third rhyming slang joke.....

Above: The earliest surviving portrait of Richard (c. 1520, after a lost original), formerly belonging to the Paston family  (Society of Antiquaries, London)