Tuesday 31 August 2021

Snobbery and Joanna Cannan 2


And Be a Villain, by Joanna Cannan

Joanna Cannan was a mystery writer of the 50s who also started the "pony book" genre that was continued by her daughters, the Pullein-Thompsons.

We accompany Dr Richard Hallow as he drives home after an unsatisfactory case near the gas works. He lives in a country town, Beetham, where areas are delineated by class. He ponders the family he has just left: “They’re different; they don’t feel things like we do.” He disparages “Parkside, with its impure vowels, its lounges, electric log fires, golfing Daddies, dressy Mummies”, but “stepping under the pergolas to the studded-oak front doors, he could be sure of wide halls, shallow stairs, clean beds, a bathroom a bit vulgar, perhaps, in its pinkness”.

We reach his house and realise that Dr Hallow is not as upmarket as he thinks he is. The garden has a wrought-iron gate and a shrubbery, and the house is called “Windyridge”. We meet his wife, Eve, who is young and pretty but conventionally dressed in an “oatmeal” skirt and “a costly geranium pink ‘twin set’ and her pearls”. Her sister is visiting because they want to have a family conference about what to do with Mother, recently widowed and almost penniless. Dr Hallow has provisionally booked her a place at the nearest old people’s home. Eve explains that she can’t accommodate Mother because she does a lot of entertaining and she needs to impress people. Her sister Primrose makes her feel rather small – she’s handsome rather than pretty and carries off a “bottle-green tweed suit with a red-and-white-spotted handkerchief“. She is single, but having a long affair with a married Labour MP.

Their mother, Mrs Langley, turns up, having missed Eve at the station. There are no signs that she is “impossible”, except that she wears a black coat and has “bird’s nest” hair – long, in an updo instead of short and permed. She is also a poet and an intellectual.

While they’re waiting for Richard and dithering about whether to start tea without him, an unexpected guest arrives: their cousin Jonathan who now lives abroad, having served a sentence for “gross indecency”. (He’s gay.) Mrs Langley (Laura) talks to him in another room while the sisters blame his “emotional” mother who “alternately petted and neglected him”. “‘You were always calling people babyish,’ said Eve. ‘Or feeble — that was a great word of yours.” Richard, if present, would call him “pathological”. Mrs Langley makes a lunch date with him for the next day.

They decide to go and look for Richard in his surgery – where they find him, slumped across the Q-R file drawer, quite dead. Inspector Ronald Price of Scotland Yard is called in. Price is the opposite of the quirky detective we are supposed to love – he doesn’t have a single redeeming feature. What's more he’s a socialist and thinks in clichés.

Mrs Langley meets Jonathan at a local hotel. “He was waiting for her in the meagre lounge, half-heartedly modernized with nesting chairs and formica-topped tables, but retaining its stained-glass windows and blue carpet, patterned with vegetable growths in beige.” Of course he is charming, they lunch on Irish stew and ice cream, and he asks her to come and live with him in his crumbling chateau in France. She delightedly agrees. When Price meets her, he thinks “daubs or weaves”.

And now we get some insight about Insp. Price. He’s read Nancy Mitford’s recent Noblesse Oblige. “To his surprise and mortification” he learns that “many, if not all, the refined expressions which in the course of years he had trained himself to use served only to proclaim his lack of breeding”.

“His wife, Valerie, wouldn’t read the book — she said it looked dry — and when, trying out this new vocabulary, he said ‘What?’ she said, ‘Don’t say ‘what’ to me,’ and when ... he referred to what he had always called ‘serviettes’ as napkins, she said he was disgusting and had put her off her food.”

Price also interviews Dr Hallows’ receptionist, Evadne, who weekends at a bungalow called “Catcott”. She has just been sacked after 15 years, to make room for “Miss Beetham”, the local beauty queen.

The cast come out with some received ideas. Eve shouldn’t “huddle” or “crouch” over the fire (despite just being bereaved). She discusses economy with Price, who’s impressed: “‘Small tins of soup are quite big enough for three people if you add a little milk or water.”

Now we meet June – “Miss Beetham”. Her boyfriend, journalist David, doesn’t want her to work for Dr Hallow, the well-known “ladies’ man”, and she gives him back his ring. It’s Sergeant Haddock who turns up to interview her, revealing himself to be even more affected and déclassé than Price himself.

“Dropping the high clear Roedean voice she affected and speaking naturally, she said, ‘Well, what did you want to know, Mr Haddock?’” Haddock interviews David, and asks: “‘I hope my intrusion has not put the Muse to flight?” David lives in a grubby House of Multiple Occupation, and Price comments: “The housing problem is still with us in spite of Tory promises.”

Eve’s sons come home from boarding school, and Price watches them raking the lawn and larking about: “Typical behaviour, Price thought contemptuously, of privileged little snobs from public schools.” The boys are nice, and get on with their grandmother – Cannan can do children, unlike some of the Crime Queens.

Long-forgotten prejudices are revealed: the football pools and beauty contests are despised, breakfast cereal is “rubbishy”, and artificial fertiliser is feared – won’t it make the vegetables poisonous? “‘Causes all these stomach ulcers,’ said Laura with relish.”

Evadne App, the genteel receptionist, assumes she will work for the next doctor to take over the practice. She has given up her room in town, and Eve asks her to move in until she finds somewhere. She proceeds to drive them all mad. “Supposing I had to wash up with Miss App till death did us part?” ponders Eve. (The boys call her “the Mishap”.)

Inspector Price arrests a disgruntled patient, and retreats to London, and Laura goes off detecting on her own on a tip from the boys. She asks the way in a grocer’s where women are buying “Tastispred” and “Pop’n’Scrunch”. She comes home to a lunch of dried-up rissoles and writes some postcards to the boys. Eve tells her off for using the slang word “smashing”. “It’s these fearsome words like . . . well, like finalize and motivate that should be barred,” disagrees Primrose.

Laura unmasks the murderer, and we leave Inspector Price at home pondering the creation of a breakfast nook with a formica drop-leaf table. Primrose and June rather fade from the story – I’d like to know if the MP ever leaves his wife, or if June finds a new fiancée. Laura is content in the French chateau, and Eve gets a job as a matron in a boys’ school.

The puzzle may not be very complex, but the writing is sparkling and funny, and Cannan's books are a joy to anyone interested in the social history of the 50s.

More about Joanna Cannan here.

Thursday 19 August 2021

Contradictions 9

We recommend living for others, but commend people for being “resilient” and standing on their own two feet.

We say that marriage is outmoded but get hitched anyway, says good.is.

Neurotypicals don’t want to think that anybody copies anybody, while spouting current phrases and acceptable jargon.

Michelangelo lived to be 88, which is good going in an age when everybody died aged 40.

Leave voters won by a small majority – “That’s democracy!” Women form over half the population of the UK – so surely anything we say goes?

If we dismiss novels of the 20s and 30s as “dated”, why are we so keen on historical fiction? Is it because we can rely on a current author to have the right attitudes?

If you can “will away” the pain of IUD insertion, periods and childbirth, why do they give anaesthesia for an appendectomy?

If a woman can be booted off TikTok for calling herself a “mother”, why are we celebrating Fathers’ Day?

Americans: What shall we do with all these parking lots in cities? Also Americans: We’re turning the old El track into a green walkway.

Taking the knee is mere “gesture politics”, but waving a flag somehow isn’t.

Gender is assigned by doctors at birth, but do come to our unborn baby’s gender reveal party and watch the ultrasound video. Though of course an unborn child is not human.

Brexit is a success! Plus, Brexit fallout is all THEIR fault.

In Church of England weddings, couples vow “till death do us part”, but the Church allows divorce. (In 2002 the General Synod allowed remarriage in church of divorced people whose former partners were still alive, in "exceptional circumstances".) In the early 19th century men vowed “With all my worldly goods I thee endow” when by law all a woman’s money and property became her husband’s on marriage, unless Victorian Dad had tied up her fortune in some kind of pre-nup.

A society where marriages are arranged produces beautiful poetry about free agents falling passionately in love with each other. (The Song of Songs)

Neurotypicals complain that the neurodiverse lack “executive function” while at the same time telling us to “live in the moment”.

Hippies proclaimed “love and peace” while being unfriendly on a personal level. (Someone who was there in Haight Ashbury in the late 60s reports that the ideals went out of the window when the kids moved on to hard drugs.)

Have you noticed the people who don’t want to help refugees because we “have our own poor” also don’t want to help our own poor? (@mhdksafa)

Hold on, these people objected to removing statues on the grounds that this would "airbrush history". But when it comes to stately homes they want to...airbrush history? (@StevePeers )

Here’s Jacob Rees-Mogg, saying there’s no point tackling climate change as we won’t see effects of doing so for 100+ years. And yet… The very same Jacob-Rees Mogg felt there was every need for Brexit despite saying benefits might not be felt for 50 years. (@MarinaPurkiss)

The left will simultaneously deplore child beauty pageants while cheering in favour of child drag queens. (@Jaimi_Shrive)

Schrödinger’s Scots is where it is simultaneously not a language (just a dialect of English) and yet so unintelligible to English speakers that they peevishly demand translations. (@MizLiot)

Schrödinger's Welsh would be that it's simultaneously a dead language and yet Welsh speakers are taking all of the jobs. (@SPTomos)

Yiddish is both a dead language and not a proper language because it hasn’t got a word for television. Unlike English...

Schrödinger's freelance job: hard enough that I can't do it myself, but easy enough that you can do it for me for free. (@arrantpedantry)

All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. (George Orwell)

We hold all the cards.
The EU is bullying us.
The EU is falling apart.
Brexiters hold all three of the mutually exclusive views above, and pretend they're somehow compatible.
(Edwin Hayward @uk_domain_names)

Listening to a Tory MP on a podcast stating that the government shouldn't tell us what to do. I'm driving my recently MOT'd car in a restricted speed limit zone with a seat belt on and can't turn him off because it is illegal to hold my phone. (@thehistoryguy)

Book advice: You must hook the reader within the first five pages or they'll put it down!! The same people recommending their favorite TV show: You just have to get past episode six and then you'll start to like it. (@hapasareasian)

"We’re being censored by woke cancel culture! We’re afraid to say what we actually think!—also here is our new law forbidding mention of the following topics in public schools.” (@JuliusGoat)

If biological sex has no material significance on our lives (therefore needs no words, data collection or sex-specific facilities), why would anyone experience dysphoria or want to obscure their secondary sex characteristics?

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 13 August 2021

Snobbery and Joanna Cannan


Whodunnit? Must have been a rank outsider!

Joanna Cannan (1898–1961) was the author of the influential children's story A Pony for Jean. It gave rise to a whole genre - largely written by Cannan and her daughters, Josephine, Diana and Christine Pullein-Thompson. The family were intensely horsey and ran their own stables. (A Pony for Jean was unusual in its time for being convincingly narrated by the girl heroine. The series is also funny: the usual plot about a girl who teaches herself to ride on an unpromising mount and then wins all the prizes is surrounded by some sly social observation. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says Cannan’s writing was “witty, satirical, even cynical”. I think they’re trying to say “critical”.)

Cannan also wrote detective stories. I was encouraged to read Murder Included by Clothes in Books who hinted that it was a guide to the English class system in the early 50s. And so it is.

The aristocratic d’Estray family have turned their country house into a hunting stables and private hotel (for “paying guests”) – on the urging of the latest Lady d’Estray, who is rather Bohemian and has been living in the South of France. (She has breakfast in her bedroom – imagine!) The police are called in when one of the guests (a horsey old lady who is also a d’Estray cousin) is found poisoned. The local fuzz request help from Scotland Yard, claiming that they can't be impartial as they are all either friends of Sir Charles d’Estray, or closely related to the staff.

They are sent Inspector Ronald Price, a solidly lower middle-class socialist who has the gall to live in Finchley and eat in a dining recess with folkweave curtains. His bathroom contains a mirror-fronted cupboard full of laxatives, and a cork-seated linen basket. His idea of a good meal is tinned soup, potato pie and trifle (stale cake and instant custard). He is also pompous, calling sleep “recuperative slumber”.

The whole book seethes with snobbery (and racism), mainly expressed by the cast – the contempt for Price and another character called Marvin seems to be entirely Cannan’s own.

Among the guests is a couple called Rose. Here’s the Chief Constable’s view: “Well, Mr Rose is a type that I daresay you’re familiar with, though it’s not common, thank the Lord, down here. A few years back his name was Rosengarten or Rosenberg.” (His wife, Sybella, calls the drawing room the “lounge” and her coat and skirt a “costume”. We’d now call it a suit. Sidney Rose’s hunting clothes are too new and too brightly coloured: chestnut tweed coat and socks; yellow tie, waistcoat and handkerchief. What’s more, his tie has a pattern of foxes’ masks and hunting whips, and his socks are cable-stitched.)

Inspector Price flinches when local cop Treadwell refers to the housemaid (who is also his aunt) as a “servant”. “Don’t they realise we’ve done away with masters and servants?” thinks Price. He winces again when the Chief Constable complains that he has to dine early to let the cook go home. “How well they were taking it, these doomed and done-for ladies and gentlemen – but dine early!”

Treadwell complains that the village was “pretty enough once, but spoiled by bungalows run up by retired Harborough tradesmen”. Price writes to his wife, Valerie, that he may have to remind everybody that “a few years have passed since we did away with the feudal system”.

Price ticks off the boot boy for saying “What?” rather than “Pardon?” but is put in his place – “Sir Charles won’t ’ave pardon in the ’ouse.” It’s “I beg your pardon” to the gentry and “What?” to equals.

Bunny (Lady d’Estray) is advised not to wear espadrilles in the presence of the police. Her conservative stepdaughter Patricia is wearing “trim Coolies”. (What can these be? Basketweave shoes?) “The more you wear sloppy shoes,” says Pat, “The more you have to.” (Espadrilles were a foreign import, and rather shocking.) Pat admits later that “'what corners I had were duly knocked off at St Olaf’s'. She smiled, evidently recalling humorous incidents connected with the loss of her individuality.” She is a perpetual prefect, and has yet to discard the “snubbing manner” acquired at school.

One of the guests, Flight-Lieutenant Marvin, is described as a “temporary gentleman” by other characters. He has been taken up by Miss Hudson (the first corpse), and is probably after her money. Lisa, Bunny’s daughter, says that he’s “of the people”, and uses words like “perspiration and serviette and excuse me”. Cannan introduces his mother, apparently just so that she can sneer at her. She wears more than one ring, a tight corset and a frilly white blouse. She enjoys walking round shops, also “bridge, matinees, an occasional dress show”.

Beatrice, the housemaid, explains how servants’ halls have become more democratic: “Of course, in the old days the under-servants weren’t allowed to speak at table until the upper servants ’ad withdrawn, but me and Mr Benson and Mrs Capes decided that, within reason, we in the ’all should adapt ourselves to the spirit of the times.” Yes, I’m afraid the servants all drop their aitches, which makes their dialogue quite difficult to read.

I guessed who the murderer was, and the solution is quite shocking.

All Is Discovered
There is not a single likeable person in this book, apart perhaps for the murdered woman, a "peasant type" who only ever wanted to work on a farm. It is all about class. Joanna Cannan uses her story to pour scorn on council house dwellers and farmers’ wives who want to climb up the social scale thanks to cheap wallpaper, manmade fibres, fridges and convenience foods. It is the early 60s.

The only halfway attractive character is Arthur, an elderly man who lives in a "cream and green" council house and grows his own vegetables. But even he has every dropped H notated.

His wife Edie has aspirations and a seersucker tablecloth. There are “sandwiches to cut and fill with a new recipe from Women’s Weekly Outlook – pineapple with a dab of mayonnaise – and then she must comb out her hair, at present set in curlers under a headscarf, and change into her Terylene skirt and Acrilan twin set.” The couple have just dined on “baked beans, tinned luncheon meat and processed cheese”.

Even worse is Sylvia Lumley, wife of a farmer. She “teeters” across the farmyard in stiletto heels. She owns a miniature poodle and a “baby” car, and wears a mohair stole, a black lacy nightdress and an apple-green corduroy housecoat. Not all at once.

She is not unfaithful, but likes to go on dates with men – usually her cousin Eddy – who take her out to dinner in a nearby town in posh restaurants like Antonio’s. She waits for her date sitting on the edge of a “couch” in a “niche”. The date is a frost – she is too “ingratiating and unsophisticated”. She chooses scampi followed by pressed duck, though “she would much have preferred vol-au-vent and chocolate mousse, and all the time she talked brightly, trying hard to please. She was unsuccessful and knew it.” She “had looked forward to a harvest of expensive entertainments in Sandbourne’s hotels, concert halls and theatre.”

When we see inside her house, we find that “the ‘lounge’ had recently been redecorated in one of Sylvia’s foolish attempts to follow a fleeting fashion with two wallpapers of cheap quality and unrelated design; roses rioted over the three-piece suite; the eye was further confused by patterned curtains, a patterned carpet, a rash of small brass objects...”

Cannan’s series tec is Detective-Superintendent Price – she loathes him. He wears “Strydeout” shoes that fall to bits in the rain. He has twin boys called Howard and Norman, and is married to Valerie, who has a “rat-like” face and is not interested in becoming more middle class. They holiday at Seaview, Ryde or the Pines Hotel, Budleigh Salterton. He uses words like “desirable”, refers to people as “that worthy”, and brags that he doesn’t read novels but “biography, travel, history and current affairs”. When he wants to let his hair down he takes off his tie, undoes the top button of his white shirt and spreads “its collar over that of his navy blue blazer”.

He has opinions like these: “I haven’t much sympathy with loneliness. I believe that it is almost invariably self-inflicted. Any man or woman of goodwill can find a niche in the community – only freaks and those who wilfully refuse to conform remain outside the human family.” And “This insidious ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude is spreading.”

The farmer’s daughters are “plain”, and behave like a parody of Cannan’s usual horsey girl heroines. They talk too much about their pets’ ailments, and rabbits with myxomatosis, and call things they approve of “jolly dee” (jolly decent).

About two-thirds through the book, Price drops out and we leave these scenes of provincial squalor. The murders are not local after all, but connected to rackets based in Soho – prostitution and what we’d now call people-trafficking. We meet a whole new set of characters who are repulsive but unreal. The case is taken over by one Frobisher, who seeks out a felon called Delano in a peeling Georgian boarding house. “He was in a passage carpeted with worn linoleum, smelling of gas, cabbage and old sins.” (They usually smelled of paraffin, incense and Alsatians, as well.)

Suddenly we’re in the world of 50s film noir as the story gallops to an end. Where is the witty and warm writer of A Pony for Jean?

Journalist Liz Jones met her daughters, the Pullein-Thompsons, who wrote many pony books between them: "The family never had any money; their parents believed that to worry about it was beneath them... ‘They had ideas above their station,’ says Josephine."

Tuesday 10 August 2021

Literary Clichés 9: Stereotypes in Perry Mason

During lockdown, I've watched a lot of old Perry Mason episodes. Some stock characters are easy to spot: the bad blonde, the dark-haired beatnik, the dim-witted "Scottish" housekeeper.

There was one recurring character who puzzled me: the elderly “lady” who lives in the past. She's middle-aged, wears a hat and white gloves, and good jewellery. Her manner is fluttery, anxious, child-like, her expression frequently worried. She is ignorant of "business" and the modern world. Her “grandeur” depends entirely on her character, not money or aristocratic descent. She is often played by Lurene Tuttle, and is fond of  proffering tea with a full service of fine china and silver teapots and “tinkling” cups and saucers. (To me they don’t tinkle, they rattle annoyingly.)

Bizarrely, middle-aged men find this attractive and everybody treats her like royalty. She’s a “grand lady”, a survival of a more gracious age, and must be protected.

There is an example of the type in the episode The Case of the Barefaced Witness, set in a small town. The complicated plot concerns possible embezzlement and blackmail. The elderly "Miss Sarah" plays a pivotal role. Embodied impressively by Josephine Hutchinson (pictured), she has an upright carriage, elegant clothes (and hats) and an ancient car. He hair is dressed in a Gibson girl updo.

Due to the plot, she has signed an alias to a vital document and is challenged in the witness box by Perry. She breaks down, crying real tears, and confesses that 25 years ago, when she was 35, she did live under another name. She was "married", but the man left her, and her baby died. Was this such a terrible secret in 1961, when the episode was made?

Of course everything ends happily and she invites the cast to tea in her Victoriana-stuffed old house.

But remember many of the Mason stories were written in the 30s – subtract 25 years and that brings us to 1910, and she'd have been young in 1900. Then the Gibson girl hairdo would make sense, plus the waffle about the “gracious days of 50 years ago”, and the Victorian interiors.

But in 1961... minus 25 gets us to 1936, take away 10 and we’re in the roaring 20s, which doesn’t fit at all! There’s a suggestion of “the gracious days before the war” – presumably the First World War, but maybe the Civil War is hinted at.

I have an old-fashioned "posh" accent and sometimes people make the oddest assumptions on the strength of it. I've been called "not quite with it" and a "confused English rose", even a "sweet old-fashioned thing". A friend apologised for talking about Stormzy and broke off to explain to me who he is. Is this the stereotype they were applying?

More movie clichés here.
And here, and links to the rest.
More literary clichés here, and links to the rest.

Monday 9 August 2021

Outrageous Excuses and Silly Justifications 17


I sometimes look at Twitter but quickly get bored.
I only use Twitter for business.
Never felt the need to sign up.
Never used it – I’ve heard it’s toxic.
I do have a Twitter but I don't really bother with it.
Twitter will never validate me.

London mayoral hopeful Laurence Fox used the launch of his manifesto to defend his right to call people “paedophiles” on Twitter, citing free speech and claiming it is just a “meaningless and baseless” insult. (The New European)

Oriel College says it can’t afford to take down the Cecil Rhodes statue and anyway it would be too time-consuming.

We shouldn’t try too hard to find out the truth because if we had absolute knowledge we couldn’t be humble any more.

We needn’t pay any attention to anti-racists because they are all Marxists.

Winston Churchill thought that women wanting the vote were “akin to a man demanding the right to have a baby”. (Otto English, Fake History)

Evangelicals, if your responses to being confronted for spiritual abuse in the church are “Not all Christians” and “Your generalizations hurt my feelings”, you are one of the (many) reasons why we left. (@anna_apostate)

During discussion of custody law in Greek Parliament, member opines that men who abuse their wives/etc "could still be outstanding fathers". (Athena Andreadis)

Police Scotland later deleted a tweet calling on people to report For Women Scotland stickers. A source told The Scottish Sun it had been “poorly worded”. (Times 2021)

The tribunal accepted in that case that Mark Lewis, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, was on a course of strong medication at the time, had entered into a ‘dream-like state’ and could not remember what he had posted. (Law Society Gazette. Lewis had suffered a bombardment of anti-Semitic tweets, some wishing him dead.)

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1935 provided that the citizenship of children born outside the State could only be transmitted through the father. In 1935 De Valera believed that equal treatment in this area would lead to “confusion”. (Thomas Mohr)

A 27-year-old man has admitted sexually assaulting 12 females in Swansea's Singleton Park claiming it was a "political point" as he does not believe women should wear "enticing clothes" in public. (@EvansTheCrime)

It’s just misleading to call Jill Biden “doctor”, says former Army Ranger Tim Cotton. Fern Riddell was called “arrogant” and “immodest” for insisting on her title. Claiming the title is “vulgar” says thefederalist.com.

Police broke up a party in Basingstoke. Asked why they breached the distancing guidelines, the hosts explained: “We didn’t know there was a global pandemic. We never watch the news.” (Possibly apocryphal.)

The director of Wild Mountain Thyme suggests people around the world wouldn't understand realistic Irish accents.

2021-03-16, Man shoots eight people in Atlanta. The sheriff: "He was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope and yesterday was a really bad day for him."

A man standing for @scottishgreens threatens to go round punching people whose views he's decided he doesn't like. Then says it's a joke. Then says those people deserve it anyway. Doesn't really fill you with confidence about the party does it? (@volewriter)

The Equality Act undermines school discipline by empowering the stroppy teenager of colour. (@JonHolb, about a girl who was sent home for having an afro.) Barrister Jon Holbrook went on digging: “My tweet drew attention to a serious political issue namely the way that children of colour have been able to undermine school uniform policies by requiring them to be adapted to accommodate cultural difference. This issue connects to a wider debate that society needs to have about the equality laws that have enabled these claims to succeed on the basis that the law backs cultural difference at the expense of assimilation.” He added: “The attempt to cancel me, that is being led by the left on Twitter, shows how difficult it is to have a reasoned debate on issues connected with race. It is time for the country to also question the harmful impact that the Equality Act is having on free speech. There are many activists who want to silence those who criticise laws that encourage cultural difference. When people are silenced this is not good for democracy. (Guardian. He had previously been fired for anti-migrant rhetoric. He was sacked for refusing to delete the tweet.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 5 August 2021

Outrageous Excuses 16: Why I Voted Conservative

People who vote Conservative always say they “voted for change”. When the Tories have been in power for – how long? The below were all spotted in the wild.


Of Jeremy Corbyn.
I don’t believe in the European super-state.
Labour massively over-borrowed during their time in office.
Labour spends money it doesn’t have.

I was disillusioned with Labour.
Corbyn would ruin the economy.
Anything else would be a wasted vote.
I was desperate. I didn’t want that communist ruining my country.

I have a nice house and nice things because I work hard for them and am an achiever.
My parents did.
The left have gone too far.
We need a sensible leader (Mrs May).
They’ve done a good job.
I thought we'd get a better deal for the arts.

“I wanted to get Brexit sorted, to get it over and done with. I've had enough of it.”
“I like how they treat the family as the foundation of society.”


I care about the economy.
I am a rational human being.
Social issues don't belong in government.
Social issues will take care of themselves.
I wanted less interference.
The Democrats changed, not me.
That's between me and myself.
I can’t stand the big tech aligned/"woke" left.
Because of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Hillary is the Devil.

More here, and links to the rest.

Outrageous Excuses 14: Taking the Knee



It's an alien import. Taking the knee is being forced on people. The players ought to welcome the booing. (Ian Leslie, paraphrased by @t0nyyates)

The act of protesting this gesture isn’t racist, even if some do it for racist reasons. (@mrianleslie)

The biggest opposition is because fans see something being forced on them. (@DPJHodges)

Black people “find gestures of performative solidarity offensive” says @TBuczkowska.

Taking to your knee is a gesture of submission. It shows you have surrendered to your opponent and is NOT a good look for a team in a major sporting event. It puts you in the wrong frame of mind and gives an immediate advantage to your opponents. Very silly. (@Mal_DuBois)

It’s got the point now where taking the knee and the ongoing debate is outweighing the message and the game of football we all wanna see. Also you can’t force beliefs on people, wrong or right. People who oppose it aren’t gonna change cus you’re trying to guilt them into it. (@YoungAd_5)

Email to Victoria Derbyshire: You’re missing the whole point about what taking the knee is doing. It’s causing rage among the traditional supporters. (This charmer went on to call Derbyshire abusive names and hope she got cancer again.)

Many players and many fans want some sort of anti-racism statement at the start of games. Many fans do not back taking a knee. So we simply need a new anti-racist symbol that people can unite behind. Not one imported from the States, but one everyone can have ownership of. (@DPJHodges)

Taking the knee is a national embarrassment and makes me ashamed of all those cringing snivelers [sic] who subscribe to it. (@Maxymack1st)

Priti Patel is right. It is gesture politics. Taking the knee has achieved exactly what said it would. It has caused division, it is divisive and scary . Knee has put race relations back 20 years. (@reg_rover)

Taking the knee means England will “exit Euro 2021 early”, says “Prison Planet”. “Divides the fans, demoralises the players”, he adds.

Be interesting to see what England’s performance and results are like. Southgate could be heading for a fall. Taking the knee is just so wrong. (@reg_rover)

And so on and depressingly on.

For some reason @reg_rover thinks “knee” has an apostrophe behind it as if it was short for something.

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 1 August 2021

Outrageous Excuses 13: Brexit

Supermarket shelves are empty because they didn’t bargain for people not going off on holiday due to Covid, because there’s a recruitment problem, and a training problem, and it costs up to £5,000 to get an HGV licence, and we shouldn’t be eating so much meat and plastic-wrapped food anyway! We’re not going to starve!

That's plenty compared with Cuba. At least there will be less waste as supermarkets have less to dump.

Shelves in the UK are bigger and better, so it looks empty. (@dodger372000)

Supermarkets say “Please bear with us: we’re experiencing high demand.”

The shortages are due to the hot weather. @teachertwit2

Blair’s university drive is real reason behind HGV drivers shortage, says Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen.

(All spotted in the wild.)

You have to vote out because that’s the only way things can change.

Let’s take our rights back.

I want to have a say in how our country is governed rather than living under a dictatorship.

We’ll get imperial measurements back. And pre-decimal money.

The EU is a white racist organisation.

The vast majority thought a vote for Brexit meant every single foreign person living and working in the UK would be evicted. In fact every person of colour or person born in this country of immigrants. (@Vanessa32217951)

I think if we are all honest even Farage himself will admit that fishing was at the back of the things people who voted to leave wanted. The main one was 100% freedom of movement to be stopped and the UK to have laws made not the European human rights bill. [@Fog80Willy. Because they think the “human rights bill” stops the UK deporting immigrants.]

I voted Leave because the Human Rights Bill has literally taken away our rights. The right to remove unwanted people from our country. The money this is costing taxpayers could be spent on hospitals etc. If we get rid of this Bill it will curb immigration. (@Gillyknowitall)

I've met a couple who's only reason for voting 'out' was "To get rid of all these foreigners". (@KittenBumble)

I know somebody who exports to the EU… He actually asked me yesterday if it was true that VAT would be abolished from 1/1/21 because he thought all VAT payments went to the EU. He is VAT registered. (@eggs_horse)

People can't tell you why they voted for Brexit beyond soundbites like "Elites" "Bureaucrats" "Sovereignty" "Project fear". (@Irritatedllama)

My 80+ MiL voted leave because "after two world wars, how could we trust the Germans?" (TWJ)
I wanted to stick it to the establishment. (@simonharris_mbd)

I voted leave because I didn't want to be in the European Union any more. At the time it seemed right but it was definitely the wrong decision but I stand by what I did and I would vote leave again given the chance. (@Ggorble)

I voted Leave because I also voted to leave the UK Union but I'll gladly rejoin the EU in an independent Scotland where I actually have a choice. (@boydy47)

I voted leave because of deeply held beliefs the EU was a dangerous institution. (@fedfakenews)

Because I don't agree with the EU. (@AndrewI81572127)

Because I never win anything. (@acidburn2k20)

Because I believe in small government. (@FortyVictoria)

I voted leave because I thought we would be more democratic. It's taken a while. Now time to sort the House of Lords.

None of us wanted this but we could not afford the benefit tourism and fraud on top of the ever increasing contribution to a corrupt system. My Polish friends demanded I voted leave because they didn't like the way their own family abused the system! (@Pikey_Wilf)

I voted Leave because it was the one and only chance we would ever get to vote on it. I do not want the UK to became part of a Federal European Superstate and that's where it's headed. If we had voted Remain then we would not get another chance. (@Bluestilton1990)

I'm reminded of the 'person' from the North East, who interviewed on the media said that he'd voted Brexit because 'you go to our local hospital, you wont't see a white face'. When asked how leaving Europe would affect immigration from Africa and Asia, he said he didn't know. (KL)

Because I could. (@RaySammy11)

More here, and links to the rest.

Outrageous Excuses 12: Woke


Refusing to pick wild flowers or take anything home from a beach.

Banning coloured toilet paper from the house because “the dye poisons fish”.

Raising your kids
to be gender neutral so that they can choose later.

Avoiding correcting people for writing “free reign” because you’re a vegan and reins are made of leather.

As a vegan, you refuse to eat off bone china.

Avoiding chocolate cake because heavier people use more airline fuel when they fly.

Only eating foraged food, avoiding farming or even gardening.

Only letting your child watch black and white movies.

In my country we've been actively discouraged from using BCE/CE in papers, because we found that ethnic minorities, especially those who have their own dating system, find it more offensive not less. The CE part implies that the Western counting system supersedes theirs. (@Zammi)

Would never even think of doing audiobooks unless my vision made it mandatory. Feels too much like cheating, which is how many people without vision issues use them today. (DS)

A female friend found the idea of even quoting stats about male on female violence 'offensive', because it 'implied' there is a victim narrative being imposed upon women. (Via FB)

A comment on Facebook today from somebody who says he has never read a particular book because the paperback's cover showed someone smoking a cigarette. (MO)

A discussion on industrial farmers polluting rivers with chicken sh*t very quickly became “People should eat less meat because they’re obese and don’t take enough exercise and live on junk food and this is why they get ill.”

My little boy calls all objects ‘she’ – how can I bring him up to be aware of gender fluidity? (Letter to Dear Prudence at slate.com, paraphrase)

How can I stop my parrot deadnaming my trans sibling?

A woman gave her son’s girlfriend several Christmas presents, including a weighted blanket. The blanket was returned with a note explaining that she didn’t want to appropriate autistic culture. Now she’s posting on FB what a terrible woman her “MIL” is for doing such a thing.

More here, and links to the rest.