Recurring Nightmare 42


I am now up in Doune for the Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival, so for the next few days posts are likely to be distinctly more esoteric than usual. Long trek up here yesterday (Ramsgate to Doune is not much different from Ramsgate to Vienna in distance) which is why no post.

But when I turned on Breakfast TV as I pulled myself together for the journey, the hideous features of Tony Blair appeared on screen. What is more, he was propounding the notion that Europe needs a single leader to maintain its status in the world – and I don’t think he had Gordon Brown in mind. The man plainly is bonkers – the idea that the massive historic and economic forces propelling China, Brazil and India to prominence can be arrested if we put Tony the Messiah in charge of Europe, is one that could not occur to a sane brain.

The idea that Europe may be a much nicer place to live if we can get away from centralist control structures and a desire for world dominance, not only would never occur to Blair, it would never occur to anyone who would be allowed to speak on the BBC.

I have noted before that when Rowan Williams speaks in public, I almost always agree with him. I have mostly been thinking about his opposition to our wars abroad. But he is now under attack for writing probably the only useful article the New Statesman will publish this decade, pointing out that the coalition policies in Health and Education were voted for by nobody.

The rush to introduce more private profit into the provision of state services is obscene. But the fact that the Tories concealed their right radicalism in the party manifesto, while these policies are the opposite of the Lib Dem manifesto, nust be added to. The policies being pursued by the coalition bear no relationship to the coalition agreement, on which basis the Lib Dems as a party (including me) agreed to the coalition. And what is happening in education is directlly opposed to the policy the Lib Dems voted through at their Assembly in Liverpool last Autumn. I was at that debate, and Sarah Teather and the entire party leadership argued strongly against the condemnation of the Academies programme. The party defeated them. They ignored the party. The truth is that Clegg cares far more for his ministerial limousine than for his party or any notion of liberalism.

It is good to be in rural Scotland. We went into a local hostelry for dinner last night, and were told that we couldn’t order food as the kitchen closed at 8.00pm. It was 8.02! So we went to the only other place for six miles, where we were told that we had to order quickly as the kitchen closed at 8.30. But the food was simply wonderful – the English have no idea what meat is. When we finished we asked for a number for a taxi back to our B and B – about two miles. The barmaid told us not to be silly, asked another customer to look after the bar, got out her car and gave us a lift back.

I had already been rethinking my frustration at nowhere serving food late. We have become so used to instant gratification that it is worth reminding us of the values of life before rampant consumerism, when the contract between supplier and consumer was based on more equal respect. We will cook you a most delicious meal of local produce, but only at a reasonable time that enables us to finish work and enjoy the rest of our evening. This is a world away from modern society where you can get anything 24 hours a day, but entirely due to the exploited immigrant labour in the kitchen, and the food is rubbish, with thousands of frozen air mils to it.

Now where did I put that kaftan?


42 thoughts on “Recurring Nightmare

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  • David Grace

    Your story of the Scottish inn reminded me of my visit to Old Inn at Stein on the Isle of Skye, one of the remotest pubs in Britain and one of the friendliest.

  • mary

    Is little Cameron with you? Agree with your observations on the quality of life away from the smoke/sewer/cesspit and the differences. Have a good time.
    .
    Re Bliar, this could not be made up.
    .
    I expect he originated the course. Anything to flatter and add to his already highly enlarged self image. The young idiots on the course need to be told some truths. Good group of drones having their souls and their reason hollowed out so they can serve their purposes in the power machine.
    .
    “I came to it disliking Blair… but there’s a lot more subtlety to it, he did good things and bad” Oh good. A neutral view. Just what they want. Soon using words like ‘crackdown’ and ‘mass rape cumviagracumcondoms’ without let.
    .
    We cannot sink any lower.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13600642
    Note the ghoul Rentoul.

  • ingo

    Of particluar excellence in that BBC fannying is the header
    ‘beyong the froth’ it had me in stitches.
    I hope that you have a great time in Doune, I so wish I could be with ya, but I promise the lads a wee drink later on in the month. My best wishes to all.

  • Wikispooks

    Good read and mostly spot-on as always. Just one little niggle:
    .
    “…But he is now under attack for writing probably the only useful article the New Statesman will publish this decade”
    .
    John Pilger has a regular NS column which, with nary an exception, are shibboleth-domolishing, Establishment-embarrassing/shaming, USEFUL must-reads (IMHO anyway)
    .
    The ‘Kitchen closes at 8.00’ thing reminded of that hilarious Fawlty Towers episode – ‘Waldorf Salad’ was the title as I recall. Bloody hilarious

  • angrysoba

    “It is good to be in rural Scotland.”
    .
    I dare say it is. I have a calendar of scenes of rural Scotland from my uncle and aunt who live up that way.
    .
    “We went into a local hostelry for dinner last night, and were told that we couldn’t order food as the kitchen closed at 8.00pm. It was 8.02!”
    .
    What a disgrace! Tell those jobsworths to get back in the kitchen pronto!
    .
    “So we went to the only other place for six miles, where we were told that we had to order quickly as the kitchen closed at 8.30. But the food was simply wonderful – the English have no idea what meat is.”
    .
    Tell me about it. A few years ago I was in a kaitenzushi place when a bit of red sushi went past. I thought it was raw beef and asked the owner what it was. He told me it was whale. I remember a few seconds of battling with my conscience and ate it. Quite nice, actually.
    .
    I had some at another place because it was bought for me by an old lady. I didn’t want to eat it because it was all dried and brown. Not red and succulent like the other stuff. When I bit into it I realized it was rubbery. I told the old lady, “This whale is rubbery!” and she replied with a smile, “Thank you very much!”

  • angrysoba

    By the way, I do think there’s a little bit of rose-tinged nostalgia in your post that is a little far from reality. Although we may live in a dreadful consumerist society which is morally awful because it means we no longer know what it’s like to live on turnips grown with nightsoil the Golden Age of everyone sitting around scoffing organic venison and pheasant on toast is imaginary.
    .
    Sitting around in a field wearing a kaftan listening to Pink Floyd on shrooms would have been an unimaginable luxury for the vast, vast majority of pre-consumerist society. In fact, consumerism probably made it all possible.
    .
    😛

  • joe kane

    Love it Craig. Wish I could be there.
    You right about the locals. Completely different set of values and priorities. Love them to bits. Nothing is too much trouble as long as you aren’t in hurry. Exactly.
    Enjoy yourself.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yeah, wish I was there! Now, after your description of that wonderful meal, I feel really hungry. Hey, I’m only around 30 miles away – so I could be there! Now, where did I put that floppy hat…?

  • sjb

    Craig writes: “The rush to introduce more private profit into the provision of state services is obscene.”

    In 2009, Alan Johnson commenting on the neglect found at the Stafforshire General Hospital told us it was “not indicative of what is happening in other hospitals”. Two weeks ago, the Care Quality Commission reported that a quarter of the NHS hospitals they inspected failed to meet essential standards of care for elderly pts as required BY LAW. “Less serious concerns” were found in a further quarter of their sample.
    http://www.cqc.org.uk//newsandevents/pressreleases.cfm?cit_id=37384&FAArea1=customWidgets.content_view_1&usecache=false

    During New Labour’s term of office, NHS funding increased from £40 billion to £90 billion+. Nurses’ salaries increased significantly and the number of nurses rose by nearly a third.

    How much more public money is needed just to meet the (bare minimum) standards of care required by law?

  • Jack

    “It is good to be in rural Scotland. We went into a local hostelry for dinner last night, and were told that we couldn’t order food as the kitchen closed at 8.00pm. It was 8.02! So we went to the only other place for six miles, where we were told that we had to order quickly as the kitchen closed at 8.30. But the food was simply wonderful – the English have no idea what meat is.”

    In terms of quality and taste, you’re surely right – absolutely no question. One of the finest meals I ever had in my life was (I thought at the time) a hugely overpriced venison burger in a Scottish pub. It turned out to be deliciosu and probably worth three times what I paid for it.

    BUT… (and you just knew there was going to be a BUT, didn’t you?)…

    …What the English and Continentals DO have is an idea what POST-3pm meat tastes like. I have just too many experiences of Scottish (and N.English) hostelries with an attitude of “We don’t cook after 3pm/4pm/5pm/(ever!) if there’s an R in the month.” Usually because “It’s a rule”!!! Frankly – IMHO – they should have set Fawlty Towers in Scotland.

    It’s only a few months since I checked into a (supposedly) 4-star Scottish hotel after a very long journey to be told (at 8pm!!!) I was “far too late for a meal”. Particularly annoying since I had already travelled north 100 miles into Scotland getting much the same reception in almost every place that styled themelves as a restaurant/cafe. The only place I encountered any enthusiastic standard of service was in the Scottish Borders – it was run by a Thai lady!

    I’ve just written to the Scottish Tourist Board, suggesting they put boxes by the side of every road that crosses the Scottish Border. The boxes to have a slot in them and a message – “If you’re a tourist, please empty your wallet into this box – now piss off and stop making a nuisance of yourself!”

  • mark_golding

    You reminded me of my three years working in the highlands David. I stayed at the Dornie Inn in Kyle Of Lochalsh and of course we took the ferry to Skye. The Highlands are a fond memory, a home from home,that fostered a liking for Gaelic love songs and Drambuie, sat in front of a large peat fire waiting for a hearty meal of venison, neeps and tatties.

    Have good time Craig – I’m sure you will.

  • Karim

    Ack. Heard Blair on R4 in the morning. That was enough to drive anyone up the wall. Sad to say it he still has the ear of some people, otherwise how could anyone put up with him giving out broad strategy advice re. middle east issues – its been addressed here “A self-appointed ‘Governor General’ for the Middle East” – http://bit.ly/jLLO1B

  • mark_golding

    Much in the same way as Craig I have listened and agreed with most of what Rowan Williams speaks and writes in public. Much to my regret it was not until I read, ‘Lost Icons’ that I managed to comprehend much of what Rowan said and I put this down at the time to a complete lack of interest for the theological position from where Rowan begins.

    To understand ‘Icons’ we need to peer into the world of ‘Angrysober’ when he trumps, ‘I do think there’s a little bit of rose-tinged nostalgia in your post that is a little far from reality.’ – and just to digress for mo let me respond briefly to his venom in the last thread by reminding him of H. R. Haldeman words to Nixon, “To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: you can’t trust the government; you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment.”

    In ‘Icons’ Rowan reflects on ‘cultural bereavement’ a phrase I have used before here and one that Rowan takes up in the NS when he condemns ‘Big Society’ as now stale, lacking initiatives and causing ‘fear’ that strategic obsolutes and continuity in society will be lost from a lack of government investments i.e. the ‘Big Bank’ has gone bust so root issues such as child poverty and cohesive infrastructure in poor areas will stagnate.

    I believe things that bind people together have been replaced by an iconic society. Yet all is not lost however, if we look we find that cultural fragmentation has not affected a good majority of English villages and if we look hard enough we find strong cohesive character(s) are behind the cohesion, stability and communication; thriving communities where the local church or centre is usually the base for action. It is here we notice the essence of living is about our relations with others – love without need. It is within these relations that insights come to birth and we see freedom from anxiety, rivalry and exploitation.

  • Paul Johnston

    “We have become so used to instant gratification that it is worth reminding us of the values of life before rampant consumerism, when the contract between supplier and consumer was based on more equal respect”
    Err pardon?
    Before you talk about the “But the food was simply wonderful – the English have no idea what meat is” suggest you read up on why the meat is so local,
    A starting point might be “The Highland Clearances” by John Prebble.

  • donald

    Had a similar experience in Tarbet after cycling from Balloch in April.
    There’s not a whole lot in Tarbet and we settled for a tea room.They told us we would have to order quickly if we wanted to eat.But the friendliness and the flavour was great.It was only the kitchen that stopped.They were quite happy to natter until everyone left when they felt like it.There was no hurry to get us out.
    As you said , mutual respect, and eat at the proper times.As kids if we were not on time we went without.
    Enjoy your festival.I’m sure the air and the atmosphere will charge your batteries.

  • angrysoba

    “To understand ‘Icons’ we need to peer into the world of ‘Angrysober’ when he trumps, ‘I do think there’s a little bit of rose-tinged nostalgia in your post that is a little far from reality.’ – and just to digress for mo let me respond briefly to his venom in the last thread by reminding him of H. R. Haldeman words to Nixon, “To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: you can’t trust the government; you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment.””
    .
    There is no “venom” in what I say. I simply disagree with you, Mark. If I was some kind of propagandist or “smear merchant” then I would accuse you of being in the pay of the Iranian government. I don’t think you are in the pay of the Iranian government as there is a far better explanation: You have a Manichean world view much like George W Bush. But, where George W Bush thinks, “U-S-A Good! Israel Good! UK Good! Iran Bad! Hamas Bad! Hizbollah Bad!” you simply invert what he says by thinking, “U-S-A bad! Israel Bad!… Iran Good! etc…”
    .
    I just happen to think this is a very silly way of looking at things.
    .
    I think some of this is my fault because maybe I am just someone who gets too easily annoyed as well.
    .
    I find it annoying that you celebrate Iran for its “order”. There are people in Iran suffering for their political beliefs far more than anyone does in the UK. To be ignorant or indifferent to that somewhat discredits your impassioned caterwauling against the neo-zio-con alliance.
    .
    By the way, would you be at all interested in hearing Maziar Bahari’s side of things?
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-june-6-2011/exclusive—maziar-bahari-extended-interview-pt–1

  • angrysoba

    I think that the Haber process was a good thing. It meant that the human race didn’t have to be culled on an enormous Malthusian scale.
    .
    I know that there will be some killjoys who will point out that the Haber Process led to lots of people being blown up by bombs but in my mind Fritz Haber is a great (and unsung) hero! I would celebrate Haber Day if there was one.

  • angrysoba

    “Thank-you Angrysober – We both know where we stand now.”
    .
    Not sure what you mean. I dispute that you know where I stand or are even able to pick up on the tone of my voice. On the other hand I said that you are a supporter of the Iranian government’s propaganda wing. If you say that we both know where we stand then all you are telling me is that I was right. It doesn’t say that you were right. You do realize that, don’t you?

  • mark_golding

    Angrysober

    ‘I don’t think you are in the pay of the Iranian government’

    ‘I said that you are a supporter of the Iranian government’s propaganda wing.’


    (positive example of gobbledygook)

    Angry – watch my lips – Quote: ‘I think some of this is my fault because maybe I am just someone who gets too easily annoyed as well.’

    I was thanking you on your self criticism – silly goose!

  • angrysoba

    Mark, you are a supporter of Iran’s theocracy and their blatant propaganda. I just said you aren’t in the pay of their government. It means you do it for free. I dare say even you can assimilate those two distinct propositions.

  • joe kane

    Suhayl Saadi, I’m only about the same distance maybe even less from Doune.
    I live in darkest Lanarkshire. I can see the Trossachs from my house along with Dum Goyne which has the famous Glengoyne distillary at its base.

    I’ve been camping, hill-walking and mountaineering amongst the Highlands and Islands for years – love it to bits.

    I wonder if Doune is a midge-fest?
    It’s always a good idea to have big communal tents and lots of stuff to smoke to keep them wee bastards away, as well as lashings of drink so you can prove to the locals you aren’t anti-social outsider.

    Take care.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Joe, you must be in the northernmost part of North Lanarkshire, which entwines with Stirlingshire up by the foothills of the Highland Line. Lanarkshire, of course, itself is a fascinating county, which used to contain Glasgow (still does, if one is applying for anything on the web) and the ‘New Town’ of Cumbernauld and yet which stretches south and east to places like Biggar (which are more ‘Borders’ in culture and topography) and of course which encompasses the beating, flowing source of the Industrial Revolution in those old cotton mills and communities of enlightened capitalism. Yes, I’m sure the midges will converge… yet perhaps the midges fly away in karmic trepidation whenever you venture north… (!) What’s your secret, man? The view of the Trossachs sounds wonderful, btw! In Scotland, one is seldom more than six feet from… a hill. It’s a Zen thing. Good walking to you!

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Mark and Angry – if I asked for a visit into your home to see all your dirty linen hidden in your inner sanctum – would you voluntarily let me through the front door?

    Come on now – the Attorney General is entitled to privacy when it comes to questions of how Dr. Kelly died. After all – there are certain skeletons in the closet – and that would be entry into the system’s private closet.

  • ingo

    Suhayl you should go, still, the music will play till 11 pm, I’m sure that you would not haver tyo pay at this time and with a little ‘talk talk’ you will easily be able to taste the flavour of doune the rabbit hole. I hope that someone was serving rabbit pie, rest assured Craig will give us his resumee.

    During last years innorgural fair, Craig visisted in the company of some 18 year old, single malts, I shall savour that evening, walking about in ambient temperature, no midges, lights everywhere, dancing, music and merrymaking. Thanks to the quality of the malts all ended in a blur and a cracking sleep at 5 am for a 9am rise.

    There is a poets tent, afaik, and two other stages, all set in a beautifull river valley right next to Doune castle.
    30 miles is a mere spit away for a bard of your calibre.

  • mark_golding

    Paid or unpaid in my world is the same Angrysober – The West has used spiteful propaganda against the Islamic Republic. The intellectualism and commitment to the country’s independence are among prominent characteristics of the Iranian nation.

    For the record I am not a supporter of Iran’s theocracy or any theocracy because God does not rule. Neither am I in favour of a Monarchy ruled by ‘the grace of God’.

    One may record a blurring of the distinction between nationality and religion in Israel. Israelis find themselves frequently accused of living in a theocratic state and in many ways it would seem Israel fits the mold of a sacred state.(In Eliezer Goldman, Religious Issues in Israel’s Political Life)

    To understand Islam and the reason why religion and politics cannot be separated I’ll go with British historian and biographer to the Queen, Robert Lacy who in his book ‘The Kingdom’ says, “In Islam, religion is not, as it is in Christendom, one sector or segment of life regulating some matters while others are excluded; it is concerned with the whole of life–not a limited but a total jurisdiction…a community, a loyalty, a way of life.”

    Thus it represents the cohesion in society I have spoken about here. If we take a window on the revolts in the Middle East we begin to understand Arab states had no such secularizing experience. Instead, Arab nationalism has been tied to the early Islamic revolt against Western imperialism. Today after years of acute suppression in Bahrain, Saudi, Yemen Egypt and Tunisia we witness massacres and torture by the State to retain the status quo. Much to West’s apprehension and despair an Islamic awakening has begun – Do you blame them? I don’t. They witnessed the revolution in Iran and the great progress made despite damning sanctions by the West – s a n c t i o n s – the punishment system that killed A MILLION CHILDREN in Iraq – so yes I have ‘an acceptance’ of Iran; I have military friends in Iran who I trained in the ’70’s. They are now in charge of the Iranian Navy; Iran also has a tranquility and a sense of peace if one visits – the Iranians despise preemption and manipulation of fear to coerce a population into accepting war.

    But more than that – I predict another war in the same frame as the Iraq holocaust and that is unacceptable to me. I will do anything peaceful to thwart another deceptive war.

  • mark_golding

    Israeli spies are everywhere – here is one caught today

    Egypt arrested an Israeli man on Sunday suspected of spying and recruiting agents to destabilise Egypt and sow strife after President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down on February 11, the prosecutor and judicial sources said.

    MENA News said the man worked for Israel’s Mossad intelligence service. It named him as Ilan Chaim Grabel and said he was arrested at his hotel in central Cairo.

    Pictures:

    http://www.alwatanvoice.com/arabic/news/2011/06/12/178981.html

    English News(Reuters)

    af(dot)reuters(dot)com/article/worldNews/idAFTRE75B1SJ20110612

  • technicolour

    “Israeli spies are everywhere”

    They’re not, you know. On the other hand the blatantly unfounded claims of an Iranian ‘nuclear test’ several months ago did seem to originate in an Israeli newspaper. On the other other hand, who knows who seeded them? If I were an Iranian despot of the type who had ordered a mass peaceful protest to be fired on, and protesters tortured, imprisoned and raped, I might also be the kind of person to think it convenient for my ‘enemies’ to believe that I had nukes.

    Enough to make anyone a pacifist, really.

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