Thursday, December 16, 2004

Another One Bites The Dust

..............or, not to pussyfoot around and prattle about 'deep personal tragedy', Thank God, The Bastard's Gone! From which you might deduce that I don't have a scintilla of sympathy for David Blunkett.
One of the better things this Government did was to incorporate the European Convention of Human Rights into British law but Blair then appointed a Home Secretary who held human rights in contempt and was regularly found to have acted illegally. More importantly, as the head of the Immigration Advisory Service said yesterday, he wrought misery on hundreds of thousands of people. It tells you a lot about Blunkett that today he is eulogised in The Sun and The Mail, even though it was the latter that played a part in his downfall. But we all know that the Mail's hypocrisy is, like the love of God, infinite.
We're hearing a lot about how Blunkett was admired by the working class. This is patronising bollocks of course. A lot of the working class hated his guts just as great chunks of the middle class thought he was the best Conservative Home Secretary we've had.

It's funny how Ministers expect to work to lower standards of probity than people in local government, the police or other public services. Any Chief Planning Officer in a local council who personally handed his lover's planning application to his staff would clearly have a death wish.

And it's odd that politicians have such selective memories. Because of their overweening egos they can quote verbatim speeches they made to party conference 10 years ago but recent incriminating conversations, phone calls and emails are conveniently wiped from their memories. You may recall that Peter Mandelson made a phone call to a Home Office minister about the Hinduja brothers' passport applications. But Mandy himself had no recollection of making this call although he didn't deny it was made. Or rather, he initially denied it but this wasn't a lie because he couldn't remember it. The defence of amnesia by ordinary mortals is only usually made in courts of law on the basis that people were pissed out their minds at the time, although this seldom cuts much ice with juries or judges.

While Blunkett was in office, reference to his blindness was rarely made, and rightly so. But now his supporters are shamelessly using it to try and elicit sympathy for him. In fairness to Blunkett, I don't suppose he welcomes this. But there was one area of his ministerial responsibilities where his blindness posed a problem. Consequently, responsibility for video classification was moved from the Home Office to the Lord Chancellor's Department. I suspect this was done to avoid the awkward situation where, in the case of a controversial classification decision, Sir Humphrey would have had to sit with the Minister and give a running commentary on the action:

"Well, Minister, in this scene the gentleman is unequivocally manifesting tumescence both in long shot and close up. The producers claim this is necessary for artistic integrity and realism, a claim somewhat undermined, one could argue, Minister, by the unlikelihood of such an attractive brunette engaging in sexual congress with an ugly looking cove with a beard...... oops, so sorry, Minister........"
"Is that my guide dog yelping, Humphrey? Give her a Bonio."
"No, Minister, it's on the soundtrack.......and speaking of Bonios..."
"Good Lord, what's he doing now?"
" shall I put it......he's doing to the young lady pretty much what, as some might say, Minister, you have been doing to asylum seekers."
"Excellent. Give it a certificate, Humphrey."
"Yes, Minister."


The Adventures of Carlo Episode 24

I decided to take Carlo with me to Mrs Skidmore's mince pie and sherry evening although he wasn't keen on coming. There has always been a certain froideur between Carlo and Mrs Skidmore because she used to do my cleaning until her arthritis got too bad and she considers it against the laws of nature for a male to be employed for housekeeping duties.
As we made the short walk to the Skidmores (their cottage is just outside the grounds of Lupin Towers) Carlo was very taciturn. It was only twenty-four hours since he awoke with a severe hangover and a garland of chilli sauce round his nipple and he had only just resumed eating solid foods. He had also been badly shaken when I questioned him about the mysterious bottle in the fridge. He had claimed it was a new flavouring for saffron rice but had been unable to look me in the eye when he said it.
Gathered in the Skidmore sitting room were several ladies from the Women's Institute, the vicar, and Mrs Skidmore's unmarried daughter Jonquil. It's difficult to describe Jonquil Skidmore without sounding unkind so I'll just say that nobody would ever describe her single status as surprising.
The gathering had all the spontaneous bonhomie of a dentist's waiting room but the silence was broken when George Skidmore entered with a tray of mince pies and a bottle of sweet sherry. There were a lot of "Mmm" noises as the ladies munched on the mince pies and cries of "You must give me the recipe." I decided this might be difficult because I found adhering to my pie a fragment of cardboard bearing the letters SAINS.
I was quite proud of Carlo, despite the embarrasment he caused when George offered him a glass of sherry. "Tio Pepe?" said Carlo. "No, SHE-RRY", said George loudly, adding "you'll soon be speaking our lingo like a native". Carlo took a swig and immediately spat it back into the glass, saying to me "bad sherry". There was some tutting from the WI ladies. George said to me "Would the little fellow like a glass of orange squash?" "Why don't you ask him?" I replied, rather more rudely than I intended.
I was making a silent prayer that Jonquil wouldn't play the piano when the vicar sidled up to me. It was the first time the vicar had ever interrupted me in prayer. Not for the first time I was struck by the resemblance between the vicar and Jonquil Skidmore. They both had the kind of prominent front teeth that made you uncertain whether you should offer them a lump of sugar or ride them in the 3.30 at Newmarket.
"I hear Carlo's taking dancing lessons" he said.
"No, we were just celebrating some good family news from Manila in the traditional Filipino way", I said, resolving to pull the blind should Carlo and I ever dance to Abba again in front of the kitchen window.
"And I hear Carlo's quite the budding photographer" said the vicar and had the audacity to nudge me with his elbow.
I took a gulp of the sickly sherry and wondered whether to make an announcement about the true provenance of Mrs Skidmore's mince pies. Revenge would be as sweet as Co-op own brand sherry.
I had no intention of telling the vicar about my blog so I said the photo was taken purely for medical purposes.
"You see, vicar, belly buttons are either inners or outers but mine is an unusual hybrid and was therefore of great interest to a navel research institute at Berkeley Medical School."
"Naval Institute, eh?" he said and winked.
"That's navel with an 'e'", I said, suppressing an urge to throw my sherry in his face.
"So, in the navel department, you're half in and half out, as it were," he said.
"Yes, as it were", I said and asked Carlo to fetch our coats.


Next, in the soap that never troubles the ratings: we prepare for Sandy's visit


At 10:19 AM, Blogger peter said...

Loved your Blunkett stuff. Me, I always find facts quite hard work (there's a feeling, even in blog, that they should be correct facts), so my own account just sticks with my innate prejudice. It's free, after all.

Without wanting to sink to IRC levels (well, go on, if you must), isn't it about time we got a bit hard core action from the lads?

At 12:11 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Thanks, Peter. I may have been too soft on him. Should have taken the brakes off and had a good rant, except I don't want to sink to his level.

Re. 'the lads' I am deeply shocked by your suggestion! Because this blog goes out during the daytime you'll just have to use your imagination for the foreseeable future.
The Editorial Board are hoping to put all the episodes on a separate site in the new year so that new readers can easily read them sequentially. This will include previously unseen material, out-takes and commentary. Whether it will include the kind of material you request will depend on the results of focus group research. In the meantime, if any readers have any suggestions for scenarios involving 'the lads' that they would like to see, please email them in as much detail as possible and in complete confidence.

At 12:28 PM, Blogger peter said...

Well, you'll have seen this morning's news that the law lords have ruled his "detention without trial" illegal.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Yes, Christmas has come early for some of us.


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