Thursday, 12 February 2015


There’s a lot of it around in Labour at the moment, isn’t there?*  The backdrop to Ed’s speech on the news today was pure carnation, and his tie matched it.  And of course there’s that “magenta” (pink) ‘Woman to Woman’ van, which has come in for a certain amount of derision.**

But what choices did the poor Labour spinners have?  Red was obviously out, as were blue, yellow, purple and green.  White would be invisible; besides, you only have to think about a white van at campaign HQ these days to get you the sack. 

A little lateral thinking would have helped.  I’ve done that, and I have the answer.  A white van with a big Red Cross painted over each side (the slogan artfully inserted in the blank spaces).  Think about it – it ticks boxes.  It sends subliminal messages about healthcare and humanitarianism, issues many women feel deeply about.  It could reassure potential Ukip defectors.***  And most importantly, mix the two colours together and you get a lovely girlie pink.

Just trying to help.


* Leaving politics aside, of course.

**Much of it from those whose own vans, not that long ago, were driving around flaunting a message saying ‘Don’t look too foreign, or we’ll get you and send you back somewhere nasty’, or something.

*** Not that many of those are women, I suspect.

Monday, 9 February 2015

What’s Funny?

The conversation had got round, as it so often does, to the best-ever British sitcoms; ‘Gavin and Stacey’, ‘Only Fools and Horses’, ‘Porridge’, all the usual suspects.  And so, naturally, on to the best comics (British too, these people don’t do American).  Again, no surprises – Morecombe and Wise, Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Ken Dodd …  They’d been to see Ken at one of his three-hour standupatons a few years ago: “And not a single swearword!”  They all agreed that swearing and comedy never mix: “Completely unnecessary.   Uncalled for.  Offensive.”  Yadayadayada.

I silently slightly disagreed.  I can think of several brilliant jokes which just wouldn’t work without the judiciously placed swearword.  (Alexei Sayle’s story of the two bee-keepers, for one.)  I couldn’t tell them (the jokes or the people), of course, but it did set me thinking.  What is it that makes us laugh?

I realise that I blogged about the philosophical underpinnings of this question a few posts ago, so I’m not going to go there again.  (I hear the relieved ‘phew’s and the unclenching of grinding teeth.)  But I still want to know.  I laugh at Buster Keaton but not at Charlie Chaplin, whereas you might do the opposite, so funniness isn’t an objective attribute.  In fact, I can find something or someone hilarious one day, and just irritating the next, so it’s not even to do with me or my relationship with the funnything, at least not in any durable sense.  It seems to be something independent, out there in its own right, like a draught.

Sorry, I said I wasn’t going to go there, and then went.  But I least I managed to stop myself before I got on to neuroplasticity.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Follow the money …!

… and overtake it!

(Haven’t had a good rant for yonks.)

  1. ‘They’ tell us ‘we’ can’t beat the global corporations because ‘they’ have the best analysts, lawyers etc.  So let’s buy those analysts and lawyers and pay them over the market rate and set them to work for ‘us’ rather than ‘them’.  Whatever they offer, offer ten per cent more.  Grab them by the wallet, their hearts and minds will follow.
  2. How to pay for that?  Easy. Step one: confiscate their untaxed hidden assets.  Obama has just made a stumble in this right direction.  If necessary, invade the Bahamas, Monaco and Jersey.
  3. The highly lucrative British arms industry pleads that mass unemployment would result from curtailing their activities.  Fine.  So let them carry on selling death and destruction to the highest bidder, but make them pay the true cost.  I don’t know how to value a human life, but let’s say $50,000?  And $100 per square metre of property?  Whatever.  But let’s make BaE and the rest submit their accounts, balance the true books and offset the true costs.  Not to mention the roads, the streetlights, the prisons, the hospital beds: I won’t go on.
  4. Similarly, ask every hedge fund, private equity company and property investor to describe exactly what is their product.  That means: something you or I could go and buy from them.  If they can’t, tax them into destruction.
  5. I realise that none of the above is going to happen, because difficulty always trumps achievability.  Perhaps we can crowdsource?  I’d dib in a K.  But we’ll need to create a Citizens’ Dictatorship first.  There’s an idea – the CD Party?  Probably too late.