The BigMacization of Education.

What is going on in our world, what kind of madmen are running things and how stupid do they think we are? In house training courses run by MacDonalds and other global corporations being recognised as official qualifications? Its bollocks. I can only suggest the thinking behind it is leading to the taxpayer being asked to pick up the tab for funding MacDonald College of Burgerology.
This latest idiocy is another effect of the failure of progressive education policies. There is nothing wrong with “vocational qualifications” as we must now call them, in fact until Margaret Thatcher, The Gorgon of Grantham set about destroying everything good in society and turning the nation into a vast pawnshop, vocational qualifications, education related to the chosen job, were the mainstay of further education. Not everyone flourishes in an academic environment and as Aristotle put it, “what we have to do we learn by doing.”
Thus catering trainees, engineering workers, plumbers, electricians, construction trades, office staff, hairdressers and people learning every other trade and skill could take advantage of day release courses to further their formal education while learning “on the job” simultaneously. What they got from their courses, apart from a good skive one day a week, was a formal qualification that opened up career opportunities within their industry and showed a level of achievement should they wish to change course later. I knew many people who, having served an apprenticeship and obtained a Higher National Diploma, went on to University education and benefited from having acquired practical skills that enabled them to distinguish between useful information and bullshit when considering theory. Others simply made use of their Diploma, a worthwhile qualification in itself.

But an A level in Burger flipping? It’s hard to see that leading anywhere.

Hainged by the neck

The political obituaries are coming in for Peter Hain and pundits on television and other media are saying he is deader than Mandleson

Read The Rebel Who Tried Too Hard For a catalogue of Hain’s shifting principles as he went from student agitator to old Labour radical to New Labour opportunist and fan of Free Market Mania.

The fact remains of course, he has still not accounted for the £100 grand. Surely he cannot have spent it all on fake tan.

The Death of Free Enterprise

I hope the current turmoil in the world’s financial markets is not the death of free enterprise system, but Capitalists seem to have had a deathwish for twenty five years now.

Here are a couple of good srticles on related topics.

Davos 08: The poacher turned gamekeeper Uber-capitalist George Soros tells why he thinks the current financial crisis may be the start of the worst recession in living memory.

The free-marketeers abhor the crutch of the state – until they start limping
The Northern Rock meltdown is a lesson to the free market maniacs. Bubble economics are fine but what goes upo must come down

Free Market Thinking: Privatise the Profit, Nationalise the Losses.

Free Market Thinking: Privatise the Profit, Nationalise the Losses

Do you feel poorer today? You should because each an every one of us is poorer to the tune of £25,000. That is how much it will cost the taxpayer to bail out the financial train wreck that is Northern Rock. Don’t panic, because nobody is going to come knocking on your door asking you to stump up or Lefty and the boys might have to get rough. Think of it this way though, £25,000,000 taken out of the community chest (well it’s only monopoly money isn’t it) is a big chunk out of the funds that should be available to pay for your kids education, your health needs, dental care or you Dear Old Mum’s hip replacement is ten new Private Finance Initiative hospitals (or a hundred new hospitals paid for directly out of public funds.

Put in that perspective, it makes all this talk of free markets, trickle down theories and entrepreneurial skills look rather wan. Free market economics is for idiots, even Bozo the effing Clown could see the flaw in the logic. The pie is only so big and if the most powerful people demand bigger slices it means a lot of people will be left to fight over the crumbs.

This in itself would be fair enough if the Free Enterprise people were prepared to stand or fall by their own efforts. But they never have been and never will be. They want freedom to get rich while remaining attached to the umbilical cord of the state so they are fed by a bottomless stream of taxpayers money. And so long as we have governments led by weak, self serving politicians the Free-Marketeers will never have to face the consequences of their short sightedness, greed and incompetence.

The current crisis is part of a pattern repeated since the South Sea Bubble which occurred in the first burst of Free Market Mania after the totalitarian rule of the Stewart monarchy was overthrown. Then as now people had invested heavily in largely imaginary financial vehicles. Then it was stocks in the South Sea Trading Company, now it is dotcom startups and house prices inflated beyond reason by the greed of the finance system.

This time we might learn the lesson, but I doubt it. The next time some shyster comes along promising that we can all get rich buying and selling things that do not exist, enough greedy little people will fall for it to kick off the whole process again.

Little Nicky Machiavelli does have a solution to the problem though. The next time somebody tells you that capitalism works, that Free Markets are the only way out of our problems or that “what this country needs is someone like Margaret Thatcher”…..KILL THEM.

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UPDATED 13 Feb 2009:
Labour are consistent at least, they are extending their Privatise The Profit, Nationalise The Loss policy from finance to other areas. In Transport the new super trains will be funded by private finance but built by Japanese firms, with appropriate government guarantees handed out all round. Read Fast Train To Failure and Real British Enginerring, Real Japanese Jobs to find out more about this pernicious scheme.

A Society in Decay

We have commented many times on the breakdown of society and the very visible symptoms in the streets of our towns and suburbs. The astounding revelations this week as the murderers of Gary Newlove were sentenced prove another example.

For all this the Government keeps trotting out its fraudulent statistics showing that crime is actually falling and certain bossy, meddlesome middle class harridans (yes I do mean you Polly Toynbee, get over your schoolgirl crush on Tony Blair and open your eyes to reality.)

The guilt tripping middle class socialists of Nu-Labour are quick to excuse the violent minority on our streets, to blame parents, political extremists, the consumer society etc. (and I have to say it is pretty rich to read comments written by a Chelsea Tractor driving media millionaire blaming consumerism for society’s ills as if the problem is nothing to do with them,) they will blame anybody but the thugs and scumbags who perpetrate such random acts of violence as we hear of every day.
The finger pointers of the right like to blame single parent families, the failure of the justice system, the nanny state, all the usual targets of the right.
Nobody ever thinks to blame the evil little shits who are responsible.

It is not the consumer society that causes these outrages, nor is it single parent families. Many single parents bring their children up well. It is not lack of male role models: it is lack of positive male role models and the failure of society to give out a clear message that everybody is free within the law, but step out of line and there will be consequences. For most people than message hardly needs to be given, the majority know instinctively where the lines are drawn. But a few, like the thugs who murdered Gary Newlove, are quick to exploit the stupidity of the guilt-tripping middle-class socialists in engineering laws that give more “rights” to the criminal than the victim. Ask them to stop trashing your car or vandalising your garden and the mantra is, “Why should we, what are you going to do about it? we know our rights.”

We need not feel guilty abot punishing these people, they do not come from poor homes, thus being victims of society, they come from uncaring homes and thus are victims of their parents. And if the thought in their heads when they murder, maim and destroy is not, “This is wrong,” but “there will be no consequences, I’ll only get an ASBO,” then they deserve to face the wrath of society.

The sooner the better.

First Thatcher the Milk Snatcher, now Brown the Body Snatcher.

The Government’s plan to solve the shortage of organs available for transplants by presuming assent and licensing the “harvesting” of organs from the newly dead is a real humdinger of a Public Relations disaster. Donation of organs is one thing, harvesting (the very word the medics choose for the business is repulsive) is another.
I have always been ambivalent about organ transplant. It sounds fine to talk of the dead being able to grant the gift of life to somebody suffering terminal or debilitating illness, but the ethical conflicts between the boy-scientist school of medicine who regard everything in terms of how big an intellectual wank it will give them, and the more caring, less selfish kind of medical professionals who understand that the feelings of the deceased’s relatives must be considered. In the light of the government’s proposal, my attitude has now hardened to “what’s attached to me stays attached when I am dead, end of story.”
Attitudes to death do not vary much from culture to culture; whether we believe we will go to meet our maker or got to make friends with the worms, throughout 5000 years of civilisation it has been understood that the bodies of the deceased should be disposed of respectfully. Now as the “science is God” fraternity led by silly Polly Toynbee are already ranting irrationally that we cannot possibly be aware of what happens to our body after death, we are not allowed to have a say, let me point out that the rituals surrounding the disposal of bodies are not developed for the benefit of the dead, but for the comfort of those who survive them.
In casually dissing the feelings of the bereaved, silly Polly who claims to be a humanist, reveals herself as an inhumanist, as despicable as those medics who cannot see any difference in the status of a human patient and a lab rat.

The other ethical issue arises from our knowledge that the Government proposing this plan is money obsessed and there is a lot of money to be made from selling healthy organs. Once a reliable source has been secured, does anybody really think it will be long before Broon the Body Snatcher will be creating a market in harvested organs. Its is easy to see a link here between this proposal and the plans, already well advanced, to marketise the National Blood Service.

What nobody is mentioning is that organ transplant is something of a lottery, well a lot of a lottery. Put together deaths while waiting for a suitable organ and the survival rate following a transplant and, as we are a society obsessed with the bottom line, transplant is not very cost effective. (see statistics availabe at Science Daily http://www.sciencedaily.com/) On top of that there is the question of how many harvested organs are suitable for transplant and whether they are compatible with patients on the waiting list. It is not a simple question of give a liver, save a life. But these ethical questions are never simple, which is why self interested politicians, boy scientists (who tend to be simple minded in the extreme) and bossy, post menopausal, middle class mad old biddys like Polly Toynbee would prefer just to sweep them aside and focus the debate on the highly emotive but misleading issue of “saving lives.”

I have a cunning plan to thwart the dark forces of inhumanism; never having feared death myself (there’s a lot to be said for stoicism) I now intend to live a life of such uinmitigated debauchery my organs will on my demise be totally fubar, useless, not worth the trouble of removing.

The boy scientists and the Polly Toynbees of this world may delude themselves that if unconstrained by ethical considerations or the need to consider people they like to describe as being “ruled by superstition and belief in magic”, one day medical science will be able to abolish death. Is it not then the boy scientists and their supporters who are ruled by belief in magic? We will never abolish death. As the philosopher David Hume said, “It is better to die at sixty five than endure a further ten years on increasing invalidity.”

We should all heed the sentiment. Organ donation must be voluntary. To even consider making it otherwise shows how far along the road to tyranny this government has travelled. But you can bet your life savings this “harvesting will only be done to NHS patients, they’re not gouing to be ripping to shreds corpses belonging to rich families.

COMMENTS on Little Nicky Machiavelli are now moderated for all except friends. If you want to tell me I am an idiot or talking through my arse and can do so wittily, fine. If you wish to challenge my opinions, fine. If you just wish to add something funny or interesting that’s fine too, but if you are a boy scientist and simply want to repeat the boy scientist mantra that because I am not a “scientist” I may not write on topics concerning science, sorry but this blog is not a platform for boring fuckers.

Don’t Be Evil, That’s Facebook’s Job.

Ask anybody about a year ago “Which website is the evil empire,” and they would have said Google. But things are changing.

Some time ago, after being invited to join Facebook by one of my contacts from here, I posted a blog on the subject of how pointles the site is. There were already rumours about the more sinister aspects of Facebook, their intrusive gathering and publishing of personal data, their plans to sell members proflies and information on online activity to advertisers and a general disregard for the ethics of business.

Since that post was made, more information has been leaking out about Facebook’s dubious business methods and the connection their founder and financial backer has with certain neocon and it would not be exaggerating to say neofascist right wing organisations in the USA.

It is all pretty unpleasant. But you don’t have to take my word for it, read With Friends Like These, a damning analysis of the Facebook culture. Its a long artcle and scarey stuff, but its worth the effort.

Honour Killing? Honour My Arse.

The most shocking news story this week has been that of the honour killing inquest. Though it is clear a young British girl (let’s not forget this is a British schoolgirl we are talking about) was murdered either by or at the command of members of her own family, probably because of a friendship with a boy not approved of by her father and brothers.

What the hearing has uncovered is that there are several such killings each year, that are known of. This excludes the British girls of Asian families who refuse an arranged marriage and are shipped off to the ancestral homeland and simply never seen by their British friends again.

It is easy to point the finger at one religion here, but religions tend to be tribal in their nature and most ancient mythologies, including European paganism, include a story in which the primary God asks a leader to sacrifice their own child to save the tribe from destruction. Myths are not meant to be read literally however, and the symbolism is clear, that sometimes we are going to have to choose between self interest and the good of the community. Personal honour does not enter into it.

Unfortunately the three Abrahamic religions do have this foolish tendency to read their “holy scriptures,” in all cases a hotch potch of myths culled from other cultures and silly fairy stories invented to make the God of these religions look good. In the more extreme forms of these religions, great emphasis is put on the necessity of “putting god first,” in other words placing more importance on kissing god’s arse than on doing the decent and human thing.

Now if we all carried on by killing our daughters because they dishonoured us and our families by having flings with totally inappropriate boys, believe me there would be very few women over twenty five in the world (and most of them mingers.) But most of us, be we Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or Atheist do not carry on like that. We support our children, tolerate their follies and are always on hand with a big tube of Ego-stik to put them back together when they are in pieces. This is because most of us are not ruled by religion. As William Blake or someone of that era said, “Religion wages war on human nature.”

So if that young woman from Warrington is to be granted justice and we are to continue to call ourselves a civilised nation, we must now bring religions (including Scientology and other American crackpot cults) under the scrutiny of the law. Under British law nobody should be pressured to dress in a way they do not wish to, nobody should be pressured into marrying somebody they do not want to, nobody should be controlled or brainwashed by religious authority figures and we should never as a nation be willing to accept “you don’t understand our religion” as an excuse for lawbreaking.

Some of my friends have argued the case for religious freedom in the past. It’s a fine principle but the problem is once religionists are granted freedom, they immediately use it to restrict the freedom of their followers. In our zeal to protect the rights and freedoms of monority groups, it seems we often allow ourselves to be suckered into protecting the righs and freedoms of those who think they have a right to abuse others. Where is the honour in that?

RELATED POSTS:
Atheist Civilization Condemned

Sigh of Relief, Hilary Clinton Is Back In The Race.

This article was written for a very volatile American audience at gather.com. Machiavelli readers might find it interesting but it is sure to stir things up at gather.

We should all be thankful Hillary Clinton’s victory in the latest Democratic primary puts he back in the race to be the party’s candidate in the U.S. Presidential election. I am no fan of Hillary, but the prospect of Barak Obama taking on the Republican cheat-machine was positively frightening. Win or lose, Obama could spell disaster.

Though the Republicans are close to an all time low poll rating thanks to the disastrous Bush presidency with its penchant for war, mismanagement of the economy, use of fear and panic to distract voters from truly important issues like climate change and the general miasma of sleaze that always surrounds governments of the right, the GOP are still potent political operators. Against such opponents it is doubtful whether a black man could win a Presidential election.

On top of that, Barak Obama is a candidate to strike fear into the hearts of civilised nations outside America while filling the enemies of civilisation with glee. He may talk of dreams and visions as fervently as any hellfire and damnation evangelical preacher, but behind that he has no policies. I have been reading the man’s utterances and we can distil his politics thus:

Healthcare: yeah well folks gotta take better care of themselves.
Employment: Its a good thing to have a job and earn your living.
Education: I’m in favbour of it.
Abortion: This is an important issue, we gotta do something.
Immigration: Them spicks don’t belong here.
Foreign Policy: You just got to take these stories about there being a world outside America with a pinch of salt.
Plans for America: I’ll be a great President, I have a dream. I’m gonna change things.

No doubt Obama’s supporters will play the race card here and accuse me of being a white supremacist; that is one of the great dangers of Barak Obama. I am merely being an even handed political commentator with the perspective of an outsider. To elect a man President because the nation has been bullied into a mass guilt trip would be the greatest folly, much of Africa does not see America’s Black community as victims of slavery but its beneficiaries. How many Americans would be happy to drink water Elephants had pissed and dumped in? How many Americans have to subsist on nothing but maize porridge for weeks on end? How many Americans live in fear of having their villages burned because the neighbouring tribe are pissed off about something?

One of the things that damages the reputation of the USA in the perception of the wider world is the attitude that solutions to the problems of America can be applied to the whole world. That is just plain wrong.

After a rigged election in Kenya there has been an outbreak of inter tribal violence. Now some of the blame for this can be laid at the door of the British, as the former colonial power we created in Africa nation states on the European model, disregarding tribal issues. Consequently the Kikuyu, the most numerous and therefore the most powerful tribe in Kenya, dominate politics. The Masai resent this and feel their interests are not given equal consideration with those of the Kikuyu. This leads to accusations of racism but not in the black / white pattern of Europe and North America, but races in the sense of tribes that count their numbers in millions. Kenya with a population of 28 million has over 100 ethnic groups which means 100 languages and cultures.

The whole of Africa is dominated by tribal cultures and many tensions exist. The continent is probably the most racist place on earth but is not recognised as such because the racism is black against black. In casting himself as the heir of Martin Luther King, Barak Obama shows his inexperience, naivety and lack of qualification for a job that requires somebody who can interface with the whole world. When Kenya, a nation four fifths the size of Texas, can host so many ethnicities, so many ancient enmities and alliances, so much potential trouble, it is inadequate to embrace Luther King’s idiotic notion of black consciousness as if it is an umbrella under which all the members of the world’s myriad dark skinned races can unite. America’s problems are not the world’s problems but without a leader clued up on foreign affairs, the world’s problems quickly become America’s problems as the past eight years have shown.

Even though campaigning has barely begun Obama has already managed to piss off Europe, China, India, Russia and a few others with his attitude that the rest of the world will just have to do what America says.

Supporters of the U.S. rabid right will rant that the American election is nothing to do with outsiders. This is wrong, while having become the world’s only superpower by default, successive American governments have sought to impose themselves on the rest of the world. Thus who becomes President is everything to do with outsiders. The state of the U.S. economy is now so precarious that somebody who can bring about rapproachment with the nations whose trust has been lost in the Bush years is an absolute necessity in The White House.

Let’s be glad then the Obama bandwagon is wobbling. Were the U.S. Democratic Party to make him their candidate it would only hand the election to a nutter like Romney or Huckabee, or worse, saddle the free world with a leaders more incompetent than George W. Bush.

Now read American ex-pat writer Lionel Shriver as she (yes, she) explains why Hillary Clinton should not be President.

None of this means a woman or a black man should be the Democratic candidate, just not this woman or black man.

The Cure for Affluenza.

Philosopher Oliver James’ book on our sick, materialistic society calls the malaise afflicting so many in the English speaking world Affluenza. He claims the symptoms of affluence, mental illness at epidemic levels, the decay of social institutions, addiction, the fragmentation of society and isolation of the individual, deification of celebrity and the pressure to seek status through acquisition are a result of the selfish capitalism that has dominated politics, business and society for the past thirty years. (Affluenza – Oliver James)

So what is the cure?

Well the most important step will come as a shock to the system from many. Forget the loony suggestions of “scientists” to put anti depressants in the drinking water, we should simply nationalise the housing stock, put an end to the insane desire instilled in people to buy houses and remove the greatest cause of stress. There is more to life than buying houses. Having worked in Europe I can vouch for the fact there is no such obsession with property ownership in France, Italy, Germany or Sweden, people are happy to live in rented homes and they are much more fulfilled in their lives, not having to worry constantly about interest rates, property values and whether the council are planning to open a bail hostel just round the corner. People can just be, they are not under constant pressure to acquire.

The advocates of selfish capitalism tell us the economies of the main nations of mainland Europe are in worse shape than those of the U.S.A. Britain, Australia and Canada. This is a blatant lie. The economies of these nations work differently, their finance systems and currency are not underwritten by debt. None of these nations are in great shape, there is not a single major economy in the world that is in great shape. China and India are about the best but the cost of dealing with the consequences of climate change and the rising cost of energy blights even their success.

Thanks to the looniness of selfish capitalism there are now pigeon holes in mail drop offices in the Cayman Islands that have more valuable economies than many third world countries. The great lie of the free marketeers was that if we deregulate businesses, privatise public services and free the entrepreneurs to make money, their riches will trickle down and everybody will be rich. At the beginning of the 1980s, the dawn of the era of selfish capitalism, it was the great complaint of socialists like myself that 90% of the nation’s disposable wealth was in the hands of 10% of the people. Now after twenty-five years of the poor benefiting from the trickle down effect, 90% of the disposable wealth is in the hands of 3% of the people. The rest are living under unprecedented burdens of debt.

What do we do apart from nationalise the housing stock? We bring back public ownership to essential utilities, electricity, gas and water. The privatisation of these essential services was probably criminal and at the very least wholly immoral. And the privatisation of the Trustee Savings Bank was plain and simple theft. It was not the government’s to privatise.

The latest swingeing increases in the cost of gas and electricity are not, as is claimed, the result of rising prices of gas and crude oil. They are the result of Margaret Thatcher’s botched privatisations and the criminally flawed deregulation of the stock market. Does anybody know how many German, French or American electricity companies the Chinese, Russians or French own? None. Does anybody know how many American companies whose shares are traded on the stock exchanges are owned by foreign firms. Very very few, it simply is not possible for foreigners to walk into America or most other nations and buy up companies whose business is deemed vital to the national interest. The situation is the same almost everywhere except Britain, the national economy is regulated for the protection and benefit of that nation. The British economy is deregulated for the benefit of foreign rip – off artists who want to make vast fortunes in our nation but not contribute to the nation’s tax revenues. Thus the burden of subsidising the ineptly managed “private finance initiative” ventures in the provision of public services falls on that 97% of the population who share 10% of the wealth.

Is it any wonder we are all stressed out and suffering from the afflictions of affluenza?

The author D.H. Lawrence said over seventy years ago, “Humanity must get back in touch with the rhythms of nature.” Little Nicky Machiavelli agrees, but first we must get back in touch with each other. In our local communities not via the internet.

Affluenza: Wikipedia

Infected by Affluenza

Blood Sweat and Profits – marketisation of the blood service

A couple of weeks before Christmas Little Nicky Machiavelli brought to your attention the scandal that is going on in the National Blood Service under the guise of reorganisation. Market driven policies are being introduced, regional blood banks are to be closed in favour of a centralised service. Cost cutting is given as the justification, the consequences of delaying emergency surgery on an accident victim because blood products have to be transported a couple of hundred miles on our gridlocked motorways are not even considered.

If you think this is wrong and want to help you can get involved on Monday Jan 7th. Here’s how.

How can you help: We are calling a co-ordinated phone blockade about the proposed NBS cuts to coincide with the return of parliament on 7th January.

Please telephone, fax or email the UK Health Minister outlining your concerns about the cuts to the National Blood Service. Help tie down his phone and fax machine on January the 7th and help us make an impact.

Alan Johnson MP

Phone:-
0207 219 1305
0207 219 6637
01482 219211

Fax:-
01482 219211
0207 219 5856

Email:-
windlet@parliament.uk
johnsona@parliament.uk

This blog will bring more news of the campaign and info about how you can support it. Follow our tag link to blood shown below for web sites dedicated to this cause.

Big Idea for the New Year – Let’s Dump London.

Just before Christmas I was pontificating on what step we must take in order to set this great country of ours on the right track and seized the opportunity to remind everybody of the harm that was done to our national community by the crackpot economics and hate-based social policies of Margaret Thatcher. One comment that came in from somebody on my friends list suggested the country was a mess because Good Saint Margaret had not gone far enough and that the answer to our failing public services, culture of greed and selfishness and looming crises in the financial sector, health, education, transport and everything is to cut income tax to 16%.
A-ha I though, enjoying an Alan Partridge moment, a-ha, another whinging Londoner who can’t afford his mortgage and is looking for a thinly disguised handout from us sensible, pragmatic, stoical, hard working Northerners, Mildlanders and West Country folk.
Well up to now of course, we have never objected to subsidising the capital. Nineteenth century social commentator William Cobbett dubbed it The Great Wen (wen: a wart or benign tumour) and described the city as “the home of stock jobbers and tax eaters” or to put it another way people who grow rich without actually contributing anything to the society from which they enrich themselves. It may seem a bit unkind of him to lump all Londoners into this category but sometimes generalisation helps to make a point. And Cobbett did point out that there was plenty of room outside London to accommodate all those Londoners willing to get proper jobs and work for a living.
Cobbett’s hatred of London was extreme. Most of us have been happy to abide by the understanding that we subsidise London so long as few Londoners ever venture north of Watford or west of Reading.

About fifteen years ago I had the misfortune to work with the kind of Londoner who makes people hate Londoners. An East End boy who had moved up to a Bovis home in the suburban sprawl north of the North Circular Road, he thought his three bed dormer and his Renault Five meant he had joined the nouveau riche. Every day I endured his witless remarks about the north being like Coronation Street, about keeping coal in the bath, his repeating “Ee bah gum” as if it were something real people ever actually said and his general delusions of superiority. And of course his prattling about how marvellous Margaret Thatcher had been for the country.

One day I happened to mention I was extending my weekend in order to put some wall lights in the dining room and doing a few other domestic jobs. Being a long term house addict he jumped in;
“Oh yeah, I put wall lights in our lounge, maybe I can help. What’s your room like?”

I drew a quick sketch and said the lights were going on the chimney breast to cast a soft light over the table.

“Yeah, but its not that simple,” he said, “where’s your television?”

I told him that was irrelevant.

“Nah, nah, it’s very important. If you’re not careful you will just see your lights reflected in the television screen.”

I asked, “But how can that happen when the television is not even in that room?”

“Oh, its a dining kitchen.”

“No, its a dining room, the kitchen is a separate room. And the tele isn’t in the dining room.”

Where is it?”

“In the lounge?”

The cockiness faded a little, “Jesus, they must be small rooms.” he said hopefully.

“Well the lounge is fourteen feet by twelve, the dining room seventeen by fifteen and the kitchen about fifteen by nine. So how is the position of the tele relevant to my wall lights?”

By now he was totally gobsmacked – and I had not told him about the cellar, the attic and what used to be the scullery cum wash-house.

After the weekend I took to work a photograph of the view acrosse the valley of the Lancashire Calder to Pendle Hill, taken from my front door.

“Where’s that,” my aspirational colleague asked, “Scotland.”
“No, my front garden,” I told him. Well it was not a total lie, the first twenty-five feet was.

“You got a view like that in Lancashire.”

“Lancashire is beautiful and Coronation Street is a fairy story.

“How much is your mortgage for that place?” he asked.

“About a hundred a month.” I thought he was going to be sick. Londoners just don’t get the North.

That assumption of superiority is something I have often encountered in London, usually from people who have taken on a mortgage they cannot afford and delude themselves they have moved up in the world. They are invariably fans of Margaret Thatcher.

Unfortunately Thatcherite politics depends on engineering artificial economic booms by lowering interest rates to a level at which it becomes viable to borrow to invest. And Thatcherite philosophy tells is followers (quite wrongly) that the best investment is property because property values always increase. What goes up must come down of course and every housing boom bursts just as soon as reality rears its ugly head. Unfortunately the breed of Londoners who are responsible for that city’s ills are immune to reality. Thus as well as convincing themselves the only reason for the collapse of the property market is that people outside London are not prepared to take on mortgages of twenty five times their annual salary, they are prepared to believe the Olympic White Elephant is a wonderful money making opportunity, that tax cuts for the rich can result in more money flooding into the economy so everyone gets richer (in reality more money flows out of the economy through offshore investment vehicles and everyone, excepting the very very rich, gets poorer.
So while contemplating the meaning of life on New Year’s Day I was suddenly overwhelmed by the an idea that will save us hard-working, level headed etc. non-Londoners from having to subsidise the great Wen with our taxes while our sensitive ears are constantly assailed with their whining about needing more favours, more subsidies and more everything.
Let’s dump London out of the UK. Its an idea that should make everybody happy, Londoners for as long as it takes to learn they need us more than we need them, the rest of us forever. I would not exclude all Londoners from the UK, like Cobbett I would be willing to accommodate those willing to work at proper jobs that do not involve property developing, trading financial derivatives or flogging dodgy T-shirts to tourists.

But allowing some people* to stay, country lovers like Mike St. Mark, sweeties like eggbod and entertaining folk such as Jack Frost out would make room for us to exile to independent London all the people outside London who work in financial services, anybody who thinks Thatcher was a good leader, anyone who has owned more than two houses in the last five years or anyone who drives a black can and can tell you where St. Mary at Hill is.

I would even let a top quality Londoner like Ros Thompson bring Arsenal along with her, after all there are a few big cities in dire need of a decent football team. Among those that spring to mind are Bristol, Sheffield and … dare I say it?….yes I dare – NEWCASTLE.

*If your name is not among those of Londoners to be saved, don’t worry, the full list is too long to reproduce here.