You’re never too old, they say. But I am

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For my 49th birthday treat, I went to see Shakespeare in Love at the Noël Coward theatre in London. Expensive but worth it: spry, funny, uplifting and moving but also, for all the surface froth, quite a deep meditation on the creative process and the enduring power of art.

What everyone secretly loves best about it, though, I suspect, is the way it so shamelessly flatters their intelligence. We’re all aware that Shakespeare wrote a sonnet that begins ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’; that Marlowe was stabbed to death in a pub brawl; that Malvolio wears yellow stockings and cross garters. This is basic, middlebrow general knowledge. But the way the show plays with these details and weaves them into the plot without bashing you on the head or over-explaining has the pleasing effect of making you feel like you’re in on a private joke which only an exclusive few get.

The performances in the new stage version are a delight, especially David Oakes’s languid Kit Marlowe and Lucy Briggs-Owen’s adorable Viola De Lesseps. But the thing that really makes this production sing is the live incidental music (as was also the case with two of the other excellent productions I’ve loved recently: War Horse and the RSC Richard II). Nothing quite beats a nice bit of crumhorn or viol or plainsong or rustic balladry to get you in the right period mood.

Don’t worry, though. This isn’t an audition for Lloyd Evans’s job. I’d absolutely bloody hate to be a theatre critic, not least because I remember from my time as a showbiz correspondent in the early 1990s that perhaps eight in every ten productions you have to see are dross. Rather, I wanted to muse a little on the career choices I’ve made and on the regrets that now haunt me as a result. Fellow nearly-fiftysomethings — and post-fiftysomethings — will I’m sure understand where I’m coming from. Time is running out and the options are closing by the day.

Read the rest of my depressing whinge at The Spectator.

Does no one care about the plight of drowning Samoa? Apparently not…

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The Prime Minister of Samoa has launched a heartfelt plea in theGuardian newspaper on behalf of his allegedly drowning Pacific nation. (H/T Bufo 75)

Unless concerted international action is taken to deal with the threat of ‘climate change’, apparently, small islands like his will be “inundated by rising sea levels.”

Tragically, it looks as if this request by the splendidly named Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, is destined to fall on deaf ears.

Even a fair chunk of the Guardian’s impeccably green, left-liberal readership, it seems, is now sufficiently well-informed to appreciate that sea levels aren’t actually rising in any dramatic, significant or unprecedented way, and that the “drowning Pacific islands” meme is just a piece of a Third World blackmail designed to guilt-trip richer Western nations into stumping up more aid.

Here’s one comment:

I’m afraid that, just as was the case with the Maldives story, this is an utter fraud being attempted by a money grubbing politician. Check the facts about what is happening.

 

Read the rest at Breitbart London.

Where is Jessica Hyde? (And why am I the world’s most useless TV critic?)

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Where is Jessica Hyde?

If those words mean nothing to you then I have some excellent news. If not, then you’ll already be aware that I have failed you totally. And not for the first time, either. I was about a series (sorry, ‘season’) late to Game of Thrones; not much quicker into Breaking Bad; and now here I am again belatedly drawing your attention to something we all really should have seen last year if we were to consider ourselves even halfway in the loop…

Anyway, for what it’s worth, the show is Utopia (Channel 4, Tuesdays) and I can’t remember when I last saw a British drama series open so strongly. Probably, like, never — for how often is it, even on Channel 4, you come across a series so edgy, uncompromising and assured that it actually allows one of its main (and most likable) characters to have his eyes gouged out with a teaspoon in the first half-hour? (It’s the kind of initiative of which — one for my father-in-law, this — Tony Blair would surely have approved.)

Utopia, you can tell from the start, is not afraid to break the rules. Or, rather, it’s dementedly eager to play by the new rules as previously established by Game of Thrones: no one is safe; everyone is expendable — including cute kids; all bets are off as to where the plot might go, a) because the creator, Dennis Kelly (previously best known for co-writing the hit musical Matilda), probably doesn’t know himself and b) because even if he did, he’d deliberately do what you didn’t want just to frustrate and annoy you.

I love it and so, if you can stomach the ultra-violence and the insufferable hipness, will you. We were introduced to it by our quite straight lawyer friends from London, who don’t generally watch much TV and who infuriated us by arriving at our annual summer holiday let in Wales last week saying, ‘Sorry. Can’t play bridge for long tonight. Got to catch the final episode of Utopia.’

Read the rest – including my parody of Made In Chelsea – at The Spectator.

Comedian Frankie Boyle is a bully and a politically correct coward. Wish I’d never stood up for him.

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‘Outspoken comic Frankie Boyle has called on the BBC to sack “cultural tumour” Jeremy Clarkson.’

Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this opening sentence from a recent news report?

Clue: it’s that first word. In order to qualify as ‘outspoken’, surely, you need to be the kind of person who fearlessly, frequently and vociferously sets himself in opposition to the clamour of the times.

Does demanding that a public figure lose his job for some mildly sexist/racist/homophobic/ableist remark fit into that category? Hardly. In the current climate it’s about as heroically contentious as, say, a private school prospectus that promises ‘We believe in educating the whole person’; or a sign at a Co-op declaring its commitment to social justice, diversity and sustainability; or a Conservative Prime Minister declaring that three letters — NHS — are engraved on his heart.

The only mildly interesting aspect of the statement is that Frankie Boyle is not, contrary to all impressions, a junior policy co-ordinator at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, nor the head of diversity at a firm of chartered accountants, nor yet the health inequalities, disability and lesbian affairs officer at Strathclyde council. Amazingly — don’t laugh, because it really ain’t funny — Frankie Boyle is one of Britain’s most successful comedians.

Read the rest at The Spectator

Muslim rape gangs and the disturbing role of Britain’s leading child welfare charity

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Among the more nauseating spectacles of the Rotherham child rape scandal has been the squirming evasion and shameless attempts at face-saving by the various authority figures whose job it supposedly was to prevent such horrors happening.

One of them is a man named Javed Khan. He is the head of Britain’s largest children’s charity Barnardo’s which now stands accused of having known about the Muslim rape gang problem for well over a decade – but which chose to do next to nothing to confront it.

In an ugly interview with Sky News, Khan infuriated viewers – and his normally mild-mannered interviewer Eamonn Holmes – with his mealy-mouthed evasiveness.

Not only did Khan refuse to call for the resignation of South Yorkshire Police Commissioner (and former head of Rotherham Council Children’s Services) Shaun Wrightbut it often seemed as though he was trying to make excuses for the various institutions which allowed mass child rape to occur on their watch.

Holmes could barely contain his fury.

“You’re the expert in the field. You’re the man who people turn to when all else fails. Your charity’s job is to protect children, to protect the innocence of those children. I put it to you, Mr Khan, no one else has bothered: are you going to fail them as well?”

Khan once again evaded the question. As well he might – for the children’s charity he represents is almost as heavily compromised by this scandal as Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police.

We know this thanks to Peter McLoughlin’s detailed report Easy Meat: Multiculturalism, Islam and Child Sex Slavery. A whole section of it is devoted to Barnardo’s.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

Rotherham: 1400 kids groomed, drugged and raped by multiculturalism

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Q: When is the sexual abuse of children culturally, socially and politically acceptable?

A: When it’s committed with industrial efficiency by organised gangs of mainly Pakistani men in English Northern towns like Burnley, Oldham and Rotherham, of course.

But obviously you’re not allowed to admit this or you might sound racist. That’s why, for example, in today’s BBC report into the fact that at least 1400 children were subjected to “appalling” sexual abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, you have to wade 20 paragraphs in before finally you discover the ethnic identity of the perpetrators.

And even then, the embarrassing fact slips out only with the most blushing mealy-mouthedness:

By far the majority of perpetrators of abuse were described as “Asian” by victims.

Well hang on, a second. What this phrase seems to be hinting at is the possibility that the men involved weren’t “Asian” (note to US readers: Asian is UK PC-speak for Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, not orientals) but that the victims mistakenly took them to be so. Is that actually the case or not?

Let’s have a look at the names of the Rotherham men found guilty by Sheffield Crown Court in 2010 of raping or sexually abusing girls as young as 12 shall we. Maybe that’ll help.

  • Zafran Ramzan
  • Razwan Razaq
  • Umar Razaq
  • Adil Hussain
  • Mohsin Khan

Nope. Absolutely no clues there, then…

 

Read the rest at Breitbart London

Australian Bureau of Meteorology accused of Criminally Adjusted Global Warming

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The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been caught red-handed manipulating temperature data to show “global warming” where none actually exists.

At Amberley, Queensland, for example, the data at a weather station showing 1 degree Celsius cooling per century was “homogenized” (adjusted) by the Bureau so that it instead showed a 2.5 degrees warming per century.

At Rutherglen, Victoria, a cooling trend of -0.35 degrees C per century was magically transformed at the stroke of an Australian meteorologist’s pen into a warming trend of 1.73 degrees C per century.

Last year, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology made headlines in the liberal media by claiming that 2013 was Australia’s hottest year on record. This prompted Australia’s alarmist-in-chief Tim Flannery - an English literature graduate who later went on to earn his scientific credentials with a PhD in palaeontology, digging up ancient kangaroo bones – to observe that global warming in Australia was “like climate change on steroids.”

But we now know, thanks to research by Australian scientist Jennifer Marohasy, that the hysteria this story generated was based on fabrications and lies.

 

Read the rest at Breitbart London

Leo DiCaprio wages war on Western Civilisation

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Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has declared war on Western industrial civilisation by funding and narrating a series of short eco documentaries urging us all to leave fossil fuels in the ground, cripple our economies with carbon taxes and embrace bird-frying, bat-chomping renewable technologies such as solar and wind.

The first film in the series on Carbon – co-written by liberal activist cum talk radio host Thom Hartmann – is riddled with basic errors, extremely dubious propaganda claims, and flagrant politicking on behalf of the more left-wing elements in the Obama administration. But DiCaprio may well have been unable to afford a fact-checker, owing to the fact that he was paid just $10 million for his last movie The Wolf of Wall Street – a catastrophic drop in the income he received for earlier movies, like Inception, for which he received nearly $60 million.

Here are some of the simple mistakes DiCaprio would have spotted, if only he had been able to scrape together the money for an entry-level production team.

“Ancient life on earth. Over millions of years plants and animals lived and died; that decomposed life sunk deep into the ground and as a result an ancient menace was created: fossil fuels.”

Er, about that phrase “ancient menace”, Leo. You’re talking about the intense stored energy that made the Industrial Revolution possible; that freed people from the backbreaking toil of agrarianism and enabled the division of labour and technological advances that led, inter alia, to the invention of cinema and the birth of your career. Without fossil fuels your sorry ass would be nothing, DiCaprio – and all your cutesy pop fans would still be slaving as dairy maids and gleaners, their faces ravaged by cowpox. So a little more respect and perspective, please.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

Climate pseuds sail to Arctic, make wanky, Salon-praised movie, disappear up own bottoms

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“Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great Climate War?”

“Well, son. I voyaged up to the Arctic Circle in a nice big boat with a bunch of installation artists, mime practitioners, YouTube cat short specialists and climate scientists on an all-expenses trip to make a documentary called The Earth Is Weeping: Feel Her Pain. My contribution was a Concerto for Gamelan and Nose Flute entitled Swan Song Of The Melting Polar Bear.”

“Gosh, Daddy, it sounds like you made a really important contribution to raising awareness of Climate Change!”

“Oh, I did, son. I did. But the competition was stiff. Let me tell you, by the mid-2010s you could barely move in the Antarctic or the Arctic for self-proclaimed artists and explorers and “climate” “scientists” making utter dicks of themselves in the name of saving the planet from the deadly threat of ManBearPig. There was the Ship Of Fools expedition of 2013. And sundry expeditions conducted under the name Cape Farewell Project, in which luminaries such as Martha Wainwright, Laurie Anderson, Jarvis Cocker, Cormac McCarthy, Feist and “comedian” Marcus Brigstocke sailed north in order to create meaningful art projects on the theme of climate doom.”

“Wow, Dad. How could your Concerto for Gamelan and Nose Flute possibly compete with such rampant pretentiousness and pseudery?”

“Son, it gets worse. There was a film – a Danish film called Expedition To The End Of The World. It got reviewed very favourably in Salon. That was the moment when I knew for me that the Great Climate War was over. Frankly it made me feel like a rank amateur.”

“Gosh. It sounds terrible.”

Read the rest at Breitbart London

UKIP’s new manifesto: are they playing the Lib Dem game?

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Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the new manifesto from UKIP – Britain’s Tea Party – is the debt it owes to its most bitter ideological opponents, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

From the simperingly centrist, faux-Tory Prime Minister, it has borrowed the technique of trying to wrong-foot its enemies on the left by trying to ape their language. Just as Cameron infamously urged Conservatives to “hug a hoodie”, panic about melting glaciers, and see the merit in the socialistic witterings of Guardian writer Polly Toynbee, so UKIP has shunned the right-wing press and chosen to soft-launch its avowedly “blue-collar” (ie working class) manifesto with an interview in the left-leaning Prospect magazine.

Furthermore, UKIP’s director of policy Tim Aker has made the dubious claim that the party has moved beyond the “left-right, libertarian-authoritarian” paradigm. No, it hasn’t. No party ever can or will: this is a statist fantasy akin to Tony Blair’s “Third Way”. Policies can only ever possibly be left or right, libertarian or authoritarian. The suggestion that there is some magical, sweetly reasonable parallel universe where none of these labels apply is the kind of cynical fudge one associates with the tired old, same old Westminster political class, not with crusading Tea Partiers determined to put an end to Big Government.

As for the Nick Clegg influence, this rotten smell can be detected in at least a couple of the new policies. One is in UKIP’s declared opposition to the “Bedroom Tax”; another is its insistence – despite deep concerns about the growing, indeed terrifying, pensions liability overhang – that UKIP has no plans to raise the retirement age.

Both are classic cases of what is known in the trade as “playing the Lib Dem” game. That is, saying whatever is necessary to get you the most votes, regardless of how badly it betrays your ideological principles. (The Liberal Democrats are notorious for this: if it’s a Muslim constituency, their candidate will tend to drape himself in the black flag of the Islamic State and demand the restoration of the Caliphate; if it’s in a seaside constituency full of pensioners, he’ll demand massive public subsidies for tea dances, bridge evenings and zimmer frames).

Read the rest at Breitbart London

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