Toe in the Water 49


I am trying to ease back in to blogging again, after a few weeks of being mentally immersed in early nineteenth century Mumbai. I find I care more deeply than makes a great deal of sense about understanding the people in Alexander Burnes’ story. For example, the incredibly irascible and sometimes plain irrational Sir Henry Pottinger: I still have not found out the real cause of his monumental falling out with Burnes in 1834. Also if anyone can help me by shedding light on the reason for his later sudden removal as Hong Kong’s first governor I should be grateful. I can find rather coy Victorian references about him resigning owing to the British merchant community finding him difficult to work with, but I don’t have the time to go hunting in more detail down this particular side-alley. In the very many Pottinger manuscript letters from the mid 1930s I have read, I find some of them so wild and ill-judged, paranoid even, that I begin to wonder if he were not addicted to opium – which was less uncommon than you might think among British officials in India.

See, I started trying to blog something away from Burnes, and I find myself automatically producing one of the thousand questions I have been trying to resolve for my book. To tear myself into the present in an abrupt and rather random way, I am not sure I have ever expressed my appreciation of Peter Tatchell. He does great work, and keeps banging on undaunted. I wish I had his singleness of purpose.

I continue to be quietly confident with the way the Scottish independence referendum will go, whatever the opinion polls may say. Nuclear weapons and Conservative Prime Ministers are each less welcome in Scotland than a dose of the clap, so to have one come up to extol the virtues of the other is a real double whammy. The prospect of losing cannon fodder is one of the reasons the Tories don’t like Scottish independence. But the nuclear argument is a complete bust. North Korea’s weapon development shows precisely that Trident is as much use as a chocolate teapot against any actual developments in the real world. No serious discussion of the North Korean situation has ever mentioned British nuclear weapons as a factor that might influence the behaviour of that – entirely deplorable – regime.

There is not the remotest chance that anyone who actually possesses nuclear weapons and a delivery system would attack the UK with them. The continued existence of Germany, Spain, Italy and Sweden must be a real mystery to Cameron, who purports not tonbelieve we can continue to exist without throwing $140 billion we don’t have to the United States in return for Trident. Of course Cameron is no fool and does not believe that either; it is just that, like most politicians, he understands that delivering huge tranches of taxpayers’ cash to his paymasters, is his job.


49 thoughts on “Toe in the Water

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  • A Node

    Welcome back, Craig. I’m delighted to discover that a busy mind rather than an ill body is the reason we haven’t heard from you for a while.

    In the absence of a fresh topic to post about, the collective mind of we bloggers has been fluttering around random topics like a butterfly on methamphetamine. Judging by this post – Alexander Burnes, Peter Tatchell, Scottish independence and nuclear weapons – sharp focus is not yet required.

  • Abe Rene

    Good luck with your research on Alexander Burnes. Maybe you will help make a film about him one day!

    Stop Press – Maggie Thatcher is dead.

  • Indigo

    Apologies … got carried away by the stop press … actually came on to say ‘Welcome back’ to Craig. Am also pleased that your absence wasn’t caused by ill health but by a healthy dose of intellectual curiosity.

  • Frazer

    Wondered where you where…I believe the museum over here has some documents pertaining to Burns…will pop in and have a look see this week and see what I can dig up…

  • A Node

    Oh no, Thatcheridolationextravaganzafest.
    OK, bye bye. If anybody wants me in the next week, I’ll be behind the couch with a cushion over my head.

  • Villager

    “There is not the remotest chance that anyone who actually possesses nuclear weapons and a delivery system would attack the UK with them. The continued existence of Germany, Spain, Italy and Sweden must be a real mystery to Cameron, who purports not tonbelieve we can continue to exist without throwing $140 billion we don’t have to the United States in return for Trident. Of course Cameron is no fool and does not believe that either; it is just that, like most politicians, he understands that delivering huge tranches of taxpayers’ cash to his paymasters, is his job.”

    I agree on the remote risk. Glad you highlighted the massive quantum of the spend/throw-away. Anyway, I would have thought, the risk of a nuclear attack in the UK would be from a small “dirty bomb”, if at all.

  • DtP

    Nice to have you back, Craig. I hope you’re right about the Jock independence vote, it seems the only possible way to give the main parties a kick up the arse but the consequences may blight the initial comeuppance that will be created.

    Full state funeral for Maggie – wassat allabooot?

  • Mary

    Yes welcome back Craig. We were all getting worried but I remember you said you visited the archives when you were in Scotland.

    A Node. Don’t worry. You will be in good company. The folk at Medialens are of a like mind.
    http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/thread/1365422242.html

    Sky News have just said, very straight faced, that there will be a state funeral but she will not be lying in state like the Queen Mother. YCNMIU. They are getting all the Tory crooks on like Lord Bell and Jeffery Archer to eulogize.

    On the previous thread, I said that there will be riots if her hearse is paraded through London.

  • Abe Rene

    $140 Billion is about £90 Billion, ten times the cost of the Olympics. £1500 for every man, women and child in the country. I imagine that every patient waiting for surgical treatment and everyone in need of housing plus every genuine refugee plus every dispossessed citizen of Diego Garcia could be comfortably taken care of for that much. The Lib Dems had better exert their influence and stop this colossal waste, seeing as the Tories are usually so enthusiastic about cutting waste.

  • Indigo

    @Abe Rene

    “The Lib Dems had better exert their influence and stop this colossal waste, seeing as the Tories are usually so enthusiastic about cutting waste.”

    The Tories only consider any monies spent ‘wasted’ if they are for the disabled and/or poor … the sickened feeling in my stomach gets worse by the day.

  • Leon Friederichs

    Great to ahve you back, Craig! I’m looking forward to your book 🙂

    On Thatcher: Her funeral should be handled by the lowest bidder. That’s what she would have wanted.

  • November

    Of course Cameron is no fool and does not believe that either; it is just that, like most politicians, he understands that delivering huge tranches of taxpayers’ cash to his paymasters, is his job.

    Indeed a refreshing and honest evaluation of the political class and their imperatives. These sons of bitches are not groomed in the relevant stables for the sole purpose of serving the plebeians. The sad fact is these are owned by the same bankster class and oligarchs who are bent on adding a cloak of respectability to their operation in fear of getting lynched by the same wasters of food romping around in the streets as plebeians.

    PS if Pottinger was an opium addict then it is an all too expected affair for him to be; irrational, paranoid, inconsistent, whimsical, unreasonable, unreliable, and plainly put a complete pain in the arse.

  • John Goss

    Glad to see you blogging again Craig. As to your research my only suggestion if the reason for the falling out between Alexander Burnes and Sir Henry Pottinger cannot be found in their own correspondence or diaries is to find a contemporary diary of somebody who knew and disliked one or the other of them. Most primary historical revelations have an element of serendipity to them, and they do not always provide answers to questions to which you are seeking answers. For example, I read, in Transactions of the Birmingham Historical Society that the radical novelist Robert Bage was an original member of the famous Lunar Society (he was close friends with two of the original members, Erasmus Darwin and John Whitehurst). The claim however was not referenced. More than a decade of research has failed to prove or disprove this claim. Nevertheless I have found out much about Bage that was previously unknown (including formerly unknown details about his wife and children, his personal involvement in anti-slavery and educational campaigns). Good luck with establishing the reason for their falling out.

    So Thatcher is dead. “Speak well of the deceased” was a nonsense maxim we were taught, but I would be hard-pressed to find anything positive to say about ‘that woman’. You can judge a person by the company he or she keeps. Pinochet, the mass-murderer, her friend, and friend of the USA, finds his past catching up with him as the body of poet, Pablo Neruda’ is being exhumed to see if he was poisoned on Pinochet’s instructions.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-22062216

  • Mary

    Milipede E could not quite bring himself to say that she was a great Prime Minister just now on Sky News. He is an appalling specimen.

    I expect you know that Harperson has announced that the the Nu NuLabour policy on welfare is that you can only get out what you put in. So the end of an unwritten social contract where the better off help the poor and vulnerable.

  • John Goss

    Mary, you’ll like this. I remember when Suzanne Nossel was appointed as head of Amnesty International you pointed out her support for Zionism and so it proved when she was eased-out earlier this year. What she was eased into afterwards was PEN (writers’ organisation which included many top writers). Chris Hedges has resigned over her appointment. Hedges was one of those I recall who helped get the permanent imprisonment without trial bill thrown out in the States. Hopefully others will follow suit.

    http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/chris-hedges-why-i-resigned-from-pen/

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Mary at 15h28 :

    “I expect you know that Harperson has announced that the the Nu NuLabour policy on welfare is that you can only get out what you put in. So the end of an unwritten social contract where the better off help the poor and vulnerable.”

    *********

    Subject of course – as always! – to correction, I believe the above Mary comment misrepresents the position.

    The comment gives the impression – perhaps unwittingly, perhaps deliberately – that Harman is saying that social security should be a zero sum : ie, you can take out in benefits no more than you paid in in contributions. I believe that this is inaccurate. What Harman said – or meant to say – is that everyone had to have paid in something (in other words, have contributed to the scheme) in order to get something out; the first ‘something’ does not have to be the same quantum as the social security benefits later claimed.

    This is the system used in many continental European countries – including, by the way, Denmark, a country which has a very definite social contract.

    It is also one of the the main principles of the whole social security system inspired by Beveridge – a system which was based on contributions, with transitory arrangrments for those too old to have had to pay into social insurtance.

    Another principle – or perhaps to say it better, another assumption – was that social assistance was to function for short periods. It was not devised in order to allow whole generations to live on the state.

    *************

    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ John Goss (15h04) and others :

    “So Thatcher is dead. “Speak well of the deceased” was a nonsense maxim we were taught, but I would be hard-pressed to find anything positive to say about ‘that woman’”

    In one’s eagerness to damn a phenomenon (eg Mrs Thatcher) it is sometimes also instructive -and fruitful – to reflect on the phenomena which gave rise to that phenomenon, and perhaps, if appropriate, to also damn those preceding phenomena.

    I wonder what contributors think were the phenomena that led to the election of Mrs Thatcher in 1979?

    *********

    La vita è bella, life is good! (aude sapere!)

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Mary, who says :

    “On the previous thread, I said that there will be riots if her hearse is paraded through London.”

    ********

    Do I detect a note of hope in that comment?

    I say that you are wrong and that there will be no riots.

    If, however, there are riots, I’ll happily repost and admit that Mary was right. I hope she will do the same if there are none.

    **********

    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Mary

    You have a good memory John. (3.49pm) That was when I linked the Suzanne Nossel story to a website which unbeknown to me was a so called holocaust denier or some such. The troll then was called Stephen and I went through a torrid time. My first experience of being stalked by a troll and not the last as it turned out. Good training!

    Wonder what happened to him? 😉 I think I found out that he was a Zionist supporting solicitor.

    Thanks for the info. I admire Chris Hedges for his stand and for his stylish writing.

    Is there an antidote to the garbage coming out of the LED machine? All these presenters and newsreaders wearing black, Agent Cameron speaking at a podium outside No 10 and the whole evening’s programming dominated by the news. BBC 1 even have a ‘special programme to mark her passing’ running from 8.30 until 10.

    The Barclay Brothers gave her houseroom at the Ritz so that she could have extra care and it is now being shielded to give privacy! I thought it was a hotel for rich people not a care home for the elderly confused.

    Has the precious and crooked Mark with wife no 3 arrived yet? Yes. Flown in from Marbella. Isn’t that the place where all the criminals hang out?
    http://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2013/04/08/expat-mark-thatcher-announces-mothers-death/

    .

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    “Fruit machine jackpot time for the troll, again. Three in a row.”

    Are you referring to your own posts, Mary? You know, the ones at 14h27, 14h33 and 15h28 ?

    BTW – be careful, or I’ll ask Glenn to do one of his periodic counts of who has posted how often.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Mary the Viper (18h31) :

    “Has the precious and crooked Mark with wife no 3 arrived yet? Yes. Flown in from Marbella. Isn’t that the place where all the criminals hang out?”

    ***********

    Are you – either directly or by association – calling Mark Thatcher a criminal, Mary?

    If so, that’s a very serious charge. Would you be prepared to back it up in a court of law?

    BTW – what significance do you ascribe to the fact that Mark Thatcher’s wife is his third wife? Would you say it is more significant than the fact that you are a widow?

    *************

    La vita è bella, life is good! (combat spite and sly innuendi masquerading as truth and justice)

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