Friday, 27 May 2016

When friends succeed

Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something inside me dies. Gore Vidal

Failure is not the only penalty for sloth - there is also the success of ones friends. Anon.

Failure, so despicable in others, in oneself the only dignified thing. Claude Cockburn
And everyone knows:
We all of us have the fortitude to bear a friend's misfortune. La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Quotations for Wednesday

Eternity is not the very ancient, which existed before time began, but the entirely other, which is related to every passing age as its today and is really contemporary with it; it is not barred off into a 'before' and 'after'; it is much more the power of the present in all time.

Pope Benedict XVI

We have been most secure when we kept out of Europe. Meddling with European affairs has brought us nothing but toil and suffering. The greatest age of British economic achievement was in the nineteenth century. Then we were truly the workshop of the world. The sole principle of our foreign policy was Splendid Isolation. This was the basis for our prosperity.

A.J.P. Taylor

There are people in Europe who, confounding together the different characteristics of the sexes, would make man and woman into beings not only equal but alike. They would give to both the same functions, impose on both the same duties, and grant to both the same rights; they would mix them in all things ~ their occupations, their pleasures, their business. 

Monday, 23 May 2016

Austrian presidential election on a knife-edge - will Freedom Party candidate win?

Note: the BBC has now announced that Mr Van der Bellen, the Green Party candidate, has been elected the next President of Austria. 

The election of the Austrian president is on a knife-edge. Neither of the main two parties are in the second round. Mr. Hofer of the Freedom Party is narrowly ahead of the Green, Mr Van der Bellen, but postal votes will decide it and they will favour the Green Party.

The Freedom Party is invariably described by the Homeric epithet 'far right', which they are not. They are Thatcherite, Eurosceptic, Powellite, comparable to UKIP. 

Someone tweeted: 
'Why don't we learn from the past?'
But we do! We have learn exactly the wrong lessons from 1939-45. This is why Mrs Merkel invited millions of people without papers to settle in Europe, which is why Hofer and people far to the right of him win votes.

Austrian presidential election on a knife-edge - will Freedom Party candidate win?

Note: the BBC has now announced that Mr Van der Bellen, the Green Party candidate, has been elected the next President of Austria. 

The election of the Austrian president is on a knife-edge. Neither of the main two parties are in the second round. Mr. Hofer of the Freedom Party is narrowly ahead of the Green, Mr Van der Bellen, but postal votes will decide it and they will favour the Green Party.

The Freedom Party is invariably described by the Homeric epithet 'far right', which they are not. They are Thatcherite, Eurosceptic, Powellite, comparable to UKIP. 

Someone tweeted: 
'Why don't we learn from the past?'
But we do! We have learn exactly the wrong lessons from 1939-45. This is why Mrs Merkel invited millions of people without papers to settle in Europe, which is why Hofer and people far to the right of him win votes.

Britain is Non-U

I haven't read Alan Ross's Essay in Sociological Linguistics republished in Nancy Mitford's Noblesse Oblige since I was in my first year at university. I am very ashamed to say that avoiding Non-U (i.e. non-upper class) words and phrases is the most lasting effect of my university education. However I am delighted to discover it is U (upper class) to say England to mean the UK and Non-U to say Britain.

Saying England instead of Britain is that's going out (though Romanians keep up the tradition and talk about the English Ambassador). It's a good thing to do for several reasons - for example it annoys false pedants.

I mean absolutely no disrespect to Scotland, a great country that I love with all my heart and hope one day to visit. But England has been used far more often than Great Britain (or worse Britain)  to mean Great Britain or the UK since 1707 when the two countries merged and therefore England is slightly more correct than Britain. Disraeli signed the Treaty of Berlin as 'Prime Minister of England' and Churchill always spoke of England not of Britain. So did most people, apart from the Scots, the Welsh, Northern Irishmen and Americans, until fifty years ago. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Quotations for Sunday

Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it.

Joseph Conrad

If you must have motivation, think of your pay cheque on Friday.

Noel Coward

Friday, 20 May 2016

Quotations for Friday

My guilty secret is that I’m really a working class Tory. There, I’ve said it. I’d love to be a liberal because they’re the nice people but it’s really hard work – I can’t swallow their gullibility and I think their ideas are stupid.

John Bird, not the comedian but the founder of The Big Issue.

The more highly industrialised the country, the more easily a materialistic philosophy will flourish in it, and the more deadly that philosophy will be. Britain has been highly industrialised longer than any other country. And the tendency of unlimited industrialism is to create bodies of men and women — of all classes — detached from tradition, alienated from religion and susceptible to mass suggestion: in other words, a mob. And a mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well disciplined. 

T.S. Eliot in 1948. 

Monday, 16 May 2016

UN says Syrian refugees are mostly economic migrants

Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, speaking to the Huffington Post, admits,
“The number one reason why people leave Syria is not the bombs or the food or the cold, it’s because they want to find educational opportunities for their children."
In other words, most Syrian refugees are primarily economic migrants.

You might think that that can hardly come as a surprise, but to very many innocent people it will be one.

Nevertheless, Mr. Møller thinks migrants are a "good thing for every country" and points out that the current wave adds a mere 0.2% to the population of Europe. So nothing to worry about. He also deplores widespread antipathy to migrants settling in Europe caused by the fact that 80% are Muslims and the 'completely unacceptable' depiction of 'every Muslim' as either a terrorist or criminal.  

Sunday, 15 May 2016



Pronunciation: /ˈbiɡət/ 


A person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions:don’t let a few small-minded bigots destroy the good image of the cityhe was a fanatical bigot
Why do they call right wingers bigots and not left wingers? Right-wingers who defy the current political consensus tend to think outside the box - play with dangerous ideas -  are the opposite of narrow minded bigots. 

Whereas liberals, progressives and feminists are often bigoted in their beliefs. If you doubt this, ask them about their opinions on - to take examples at random - smacking children or on capital punishment or smoking in public or women being members of male clubs. Their opinions may very well be right, but you will, more often than not, find completely closed minds. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Civilisation and the West

By the middle twentieth century, few European nation-states had not at one time or another figured themselves as 'the outpost of Western Christian civilisation': France, imperial Germany, the Habsburg Reich, Poland with its self-image as przedmurze (bastion), even tsarist Russia. Each of these nation-state myths identified "barbarism" as the condition or ethic of their immediate eastward neighbour: for the French, the Germans were barbarous, for the Germans it was the Slavs, for the Poles the Russians, for the Russians the Mongol and Turkic peoples of Central Asia and eventually the Chinese.

Neal Ascherson

Logically speaking, they might all have been right. Discuss. 

Neal Ascherson's mental universe is Poland -centric. This is from his book Black Sea in which mentions Romania on one page and talks a very great deal about Poland.

As an Englishman I think of France as more civilised than us- in all the bad senses of the word 'civilised', at least. We English seem and feel provincial compared to France and Italy. But when we look westwards we feel like wise Europeans from an old continent.  

As Evelyn Waugh said

We are all born American - we die French. 

Vampires do exist II

Vampires, incidentally, do exist, even if Vlad was not one of them. I well remember the Hamburg Vampire in the middle 1960s. He climbed into a flat and drank the blood of a young woman, who asserted that before he came through the window she had felt a deadly chill and become unable to move. The skeptical police took her off to the hospital, where the Vampire was actually caught halfway up the creepers on the wall, on his way to have one more for the road. He ended up in a mental clinic. The victim and the police officer in the case ended up telling their story in convincing detail on German television.

NEAL ASCHERSON, "Dracula in Britain", Games with Shadows

More about real life vampires here and about Vlad the Impaler here.


Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself: Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them. Every day begin the task anew. How can you reprove any one with gentleness, when you correct yourself with asperity?

St Francis de Sales

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery. 

Francis Bacon (the artist, not the essayist, philosopher, statesman and crook)

You haven't I suppose ever mixed with politicians at close quarters. They're awful...their stupidity is inhuman.

Lord (Robert) Skidelsky

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light

My Facebook friend (and friend) Ruth Dudley Edwards said she needed a four line humorous poem and couldn't think of any. This made me remember the following, though I should have been working. 

You may know them all. They are not obscure.

The first two are anonymous.

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just's umbrella

Turkey is in theory going to join the EU - it's a legitimate and important point for the Brexit camp to raise

The Economist worries today that more than a fifth of plant species are threatened with extinction but is unconcerned that mass migration threatens to overwhelm homogeneous European national cultures and means the end of ethnic states.

And the end of Christian Europe.

I like Turks very much- every single one I have ever known - but Turkey is a Muslim country, 97% of which is in Asia, it has another religion, another tradition and it is not European.

Negotiations on Turkey’s accession to the EU opened in 2005, when talks began on the 35 so-called chapters Turkey needed to meet to become a member. Only one has been closed – and it may be several decades before Turkey completes the accession negotiations. But one day, decades from now, if the EU still exists (who knows?), Turkey probably will join and this is a very strong argument for the UK to leave the EU.

But British and European conservative politicians think otherwise, including Lord (Chris) Patten who said in 2011 that admitting Turkey would give the Europe a new reason to exist. 
As an EU member, Turkey would add a new dimension of massive historic importance. Europeans would show that we could embrace an Islamic democracy and build a strong bridge between Europe and Western Asia.That, in turn, would create a new European identity and narrative, a new reason for the EU to exist in this century, a way of rejecting the divisive politics of old. 
Admitting Turkey into the EU has been a British policy objective under all three parties since the 1990s. Politicians who favour this are now arguing for the UK to remain in the EU. They are not trustworthy.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016


They can print statistics and count the populations in hundreds of thousands, but to each man a city consists of no more than a few streets, a few houses, a few people. Remove those few and a city exists no longer except as a pain in the memory, like a pain of an amputated leg no longer there.

Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Some interesting things people are saying about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

The most pernicious aspect of this Democratic campaign is the way the field was cleared long in advance for Hillary, a flawed candidate from the get-go, while an entire generation of able Democratic politicians in their 40s was muscled aside, on pain of implied severance from future party support.

Camille Paglia

Despite their show of bravado, most savvy Democratic strategists have surely known for months that Trump was by far the most formidable of Hillary Clinton’s potential opponents—which is why they’ve been playing the race and riot cards against him to the max.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Taking back the USA is out of the question - they made their bed from 1776 to 1783, now they must lie in it

For some time now, Buckingham Palace has been getting letters from Americans begging the Queen to take the US back and end the Trump-Clinton pantomime. Here's the reply received by one of them.

What a pity that President Obama does not adopt the same policy of non-interferemce in the British state, rather than trying to persuade us to vote in the forthcoming referendum to stay in the European Union. 

My first job was in the House of Lords answering letters received by the Lord Chancellor and I am sure that the Deputy Correspondence Coordinator wrote that reply with a smile.

Britain is not a conservative country any more

Britain's real abortion scandal is how hard it is for some women to have one

This is a headline in today's Daily Telegraph. It is terribly shocking how very un-conservative the supposedly Conservative Daily Telegraph now is on so many subjects. It worries constantly about sexism and homophobia.

Tony Blair's achievement is to make Britain, whose centre of gravity used always to be moderate conservative, left of centre.

"Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

This week's political scandal about antisemitism in the British Labour Party has put the Holocaust in the news, but then the Holocaust is always in the news (very much more so than in the 1970s or 1980s). I think it wise not to wade into the discussion about what the malign Ken Livingstone (a man I detest) said about the Haavath Agreement. If you want to know about it, Andrew Roberts assails Ken here, though my views are different from Andrew's. But I have already stirred the waters in this article and, anyway, the story bores me. 

However, surfing the net (my besotting vice), I came across this interesting synopsis by Stefan Ihrig of his book Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Donald Trump really might be the next POTUS. At least he'd be better than Bernie Sanders.

What to think of Donald Trump? 

Odi et amo. My feelings verge from love to hate. He's a bully, a coarse braggart and a thrice married, casino-owning philanderer whom Evangelicals love, but if he could modify in part the left-wing zeitgeist that rules our lives?

I have decided to watch how things pan out and hope for the best. I start to have a feeling that, though Hillary is the favourite, the one I'd probably put money on, the Donald might do it. He's a politician of genius and she has a political tin ear for the music of the

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

On this day in 1915 General Von Mackensen drove Russia from the Northern Carpathians

On this day in 1915,General August von Mackensen led a combined Austro-German force in defeating the Russian army near the Dunajec River (a tributary of the Vistula which runs through what is now Slovakia and Poland) and decisively ended nine months of victorious Russian advances in the region since August 1914. It was a key turning point in the war.

After Romania declared war on Austro-Hungary on 15 August 1916, Mackensen conquered Romania and on December 6 1915 Bucharest fell to him. Norman Stone said that by entering the First World War on the Allied side Romania delayed Allied victory by a year.  

At the end of the war Mackensen complained when he left Bucharest that
"I came to Bucharest two years ago with a legion of conquering heroes. I leave with a troupe of gigolos and racketeers.”

Monday, 2 May 2016

Back in Bucharest with Fu Manchu, the greatest threat to the white race

What a delight to be back from the Far East.

Bucharest is so much nicer, more poetic, more human and more exotic than Peking or Seoul.

It is always wonderful to be back in Bucharest. I felt this when I returned after Christmas after I had been here only three months. Many foreigners lucky enough to live here told me they felt it was home immediately. Is there a more welcoming, friendly city or people anywhere?

This weekend was the Orthodox Easter. On Friday, the Orthodox Good Friday, the town was full of possessions for the Burial of the Lord . On Saturday at midnight everyone stands outside a church with a candle and then cracks eggs. This is much more interesting than China, because it is Christian.

A long weekend at home alone is the perfect antidote to my travels in the East and I'm finally reading The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu seemed trash when I bought a paperback in Cambridge market as an undergraduate and bad trash, worse than Dracula. Now I found him on Google books and it's actually rather fun. Who knew? 

The world of Fu Manchu is a very engaging world of lascars, dacoits and seductive but evil oriental women. References to rare poisons in Burma make me so proud that I know Burma.

Dr. Fu Manchu himself is the prototypical evil genius, 'the yellow peril' and 'the greatest threat to the white race'. 

Fu Manchu comes after Professor Moriarty but before a whole series of evil geniuses. Osama bin Laden is part of the line. Osama came from a very Westernised, rich Saudi family and will have seen the Bond films and the Pink Panther film where Herbert Lom threatens to blow up the world. 
The world has been remade by William Le Queux 
says the protagonist of Graham Greene's wonderful thriller The Ministry of Fear which is


I never before read a word of Alfred Austin, the Poet Laureate Lord Salisbury appointed when he could have chosen Christina Rossetti. I understood he was a Conservative hack, but this is marvellous and expresses my philosophy. I took it from this blog.

'I shall be taken nowhere, see nothing, and converse with nobody, that is not ancient. I wish to see Old England, or so much of it as is left.'

'Yet,' I ventured to plead, for this particular conversation was between Lamia and me only, 'is there not much in it that is more or less new, well worth seeing, and strongly appealing to the intelligent mind?'

'That may or may not be. Not being myself intelligent, but radically, or should I not rather say conservatively, stupid, I cannot say. But there is one thing I do know, which is known but to few, especially to few women, I know what I want; and I do not want paper-mills with the newest machinery for turning the pages of yesterday's immortal works into fresh paper on which to print the equally enduring works of to-morrow. I can equally dispense with tubular bridges, whatever they may happen to be, the latest thing in motor-cars, model farms, and elementary schools conducted on an entirely novel system, in which everything is taught except the elements of sound morals and good manners, and the rudiments of universal knowledge are instilled, which resolutely refuse to take root in the mind of the bucolic British boy. May I hope, too, that now Peace has happily been restored throughout His Majesty's dominions, we may see no newspapers other than Addison's Spectator?'

We had got down to gather a hedge posy, and at this point of the conversation Veronica and the Poet, who had been similarly employed not far off, joined us; when Lamia, not changing the theme, but somewhat altering its tone, continued:

'I confess I crave for the urbanity of the Past, for feminine serviceableness, for washing-days, home-made jams, lavender bags, recitation of Gray's Elegy, and

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Labour and the Jewish Question

This article has been published in Taki's Magazine

While I was in China this week, on my way back from the Great Wall, I met a mordant Palestinian-American who voiced strong opinions on China, a place he disliked, and other things. I had a cup of coffee with him, he had a hard drink and told me why he refuses to recognise the existence of Israel.

He said that in 1948 his father as a boy of six was tied to a tree by Jewish soldiers and forced to witness the murder of several uncles and cousins. His father was spared because he was below the age of twelve. The man I spoke to told me he hated Jews with a vengeance and was happy to describe himself as a racist. He hated his adopted country, America, for supporting Israel. He had it in for England too, for having the idea of a Jewish homeland in the first place, though I mentioned the King David Hotel murders. 

He may have been embroidering his story or it may have been embellished in the telling over the years since 1948. The estate might not have been so big, though he seemed well set up and of independent means. He may have been lying. I have heard that Palestinian Arabs often tell inaccurate stories about the 1948 War. Or he might have been telling the truth (the Jewish forces in 1948 did commit war crimes). In any case, his refusal to