One-inch foreheads

28 December, 2015 (19:12) | All articles | By: Stuart Fraser

And the hard of brain struggle, once more, to knit their one-inch foreheads tight in thought. Some remove their knuckles from where they scrape against the ground and try to count to a figure larger than 1-2-lots. The brighter amongst them stare at their morning newspaper, which is either the Telegraph, the Mail, the Express, or, for the very brightest among them, the Sun. You’ll note something in common there.

On the pages – which, if they’re lucky, those who buy these titles will have read out to them later – are frenzied calls: stop helping poor people in the third world and divert our foreign aid budget to help a part of the world even more alien to readers of these august organs, and the politicians for whom they vote: the north of England.

Nowhere will other alternatives be presented to the slack of jaw – for example, we could not bomb Syria; we could reverse tax cuts for millionaires; we could axe Trident. We could not light up our suburban semis with whorehouse Christmas lights which, collectively, burn more power in a month than some third world countries  burn in a year. Etc. But no: the simple answer is not to stop killing or share wealth or work for world peace; it is to hurt the poorest of the world’s poor. Brave people, the readers of the Tory press.

In such rags, an essay on the Tory cuts in flood defence spending is as unlikely as an essay in the quality of mercy – not that walls 100 feet high would have been much help against rains of this severity. But spending on flood defences would at least have kept people in jobs, tax-paying and social purpose.

It is all predictably depressing. Is the focus on what we can do? On the good that spending on flood defences would do in terms of protection provided and jobs created? No. The focus is on depriving others.

That is the tenor of our national debate, a debate of cowards. Nobody in this country has the courage to actively do good; they only have the laziness to think of improving their lives at the expense of others.

Hamster power

As I type, England stand in command of the first test against South Africa, thanks in no small part to innings of 85 and 49 from the thankfully restored batsman Nick Compton.

I wonder how many people realise that this is all down to Brother Hamster?

Compton was dropped by England for refusing to throw away his wicket in an entertaining manner a la Pietersen, and instead selling his wicket dearly a la Boycott. It was presumably felt that with Compton in the side, England’s batting line-up might just show enough backbone to take a Test match into a fifth day, and that would simply make extra work for all those exhausted administrators. Now he’s back, and digging in. Hopefully.

And it’s all down to Brother Hamster. He and I both saw Compton play at Callington when his then county Somerset played against the Cornish side to mark the opening of Callington’s new pavilion. Compton was fielding on the boundary when our Brother spoke to him. ‘Hope to see you back in the England team soon,’ said Hamster. ‘I think that boat has sailed, I’m afraid,’ said Compton. ‘Come on,’ said Hamster. ‘Don’t give up. Just keep doing what you do and anything could happen…’

And what has happened?

I should point out, by the way, that pep talks from Brother Hamster can be booked via this website at a small commission for your correspondent…

Time travellers 

I was chatting to Old Father Cullingham the other day, which is always a great pleasure, and suggesting that he and I show a conclusive difference in approach: he, at his greatly advanced age, has accepted the world as it is, and that is the starting point from which this thoroughly, loveably decent man makes sense of it; I, on the other hand, still believe in the possibility of change for the better, and that is the starting point from which this thoroughly indecent man tries to make sense of it. Happy birthday, OFC.

And finally

This seems very unlikely, I know, but I do wish you all a very happy new year.


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