Wednesday, 14 March 2012

"Political Betting" is one of these rather cliquey blogs on which there is absolutely no point in posting if you don't belong: I don't the latter, so I don't the former.  Their blog is run by some old guy who goes by the name of Mike Smithson. I've kept his title on the blog list because occasionally I like to pop over and read the comments, which always seem to me to be a competition in bitchiness.  Well, that's always good for a laugh, isn't it? Smithson appears, rather like Admin the Numpty at the twee Labour "Hame", to dislike criticism, but where Admin operates a policy of disallowing comments he doesn't like, Smithson simply bars people who make comments which are disagreeable to him. As they now appear to have barred everyone who ever spoke up for the Nationalist cause, I have decided that they no longer serve any purpose on Munguin's Republic, so, I'm taking them off the blog roll, if no one minds.

Poor old Cameron. He goes all the way to the USA, gets a 19 gun salute, gets to ride on the super cool presidential plane Air Force One, and is relegated to the second half of the 6 o'clock news on the BBC by that devastating accident in Switzerland, and the fact that unemployment is up again. Now he's been knocked off the headlines in the Telegraph by the attempt on the life of the American Defence Secretary who was visiting Afghanistan today. And still Cameron makes a speech saying that what our troops are doing in Afghanistan will make the UK safer. We know he is out of touch, but by that much?

Talking of Cameron, does any know if they teach table manners at Eton? I suspect they do. Maybe he just thought he was being one of the guys or something, but when it got round to him on the news, the BBC showed him at  a, no sorry, THE baseball game, which the President was NOT going to miss for anyone, getting "tore in", as we say in Dundee, to some burger, or hot dog, or some other item of American cuisine. I know he has a big mouth but I was wondering just how much more he could cram into it. Wouldn't it be embarrassing for us, I thought, if he choked to death. But all was well, he didn't, so threat of embarrassment over.

Talking about embarrassment, although not for Scotland, ?Sir? Dave Richards (they hand them out to anyone with a few bob these days), chairman of the English Premier League made a cringer of a speech accusing Fifa and Uefa of stealing football from the English... shortly before he fell into a pond, at a gala dinner in Doha. Well, there's always one, isn't there? 

The joy with which employment ministers met the 'slowing of the increase in the upward rate of unemployment', was perhaps a little over optimistic. They expressed themselves sure that this was sign that the UK had turned a corner: George Osborne's policies were after all working. (Yeah right, and I'm Harry Potter.) They were positively gleeful that public sector redundancies, at 37,000, were more than matched by private sector jobs created at 45,000 in the last three months of 2011. But only a few hours later, I read that, in the same period, the number of people working part time, because they couldn't find full time work rose by a massive 110,000. It may be marginally better than being unemployed, but if you need a full time job, only having a part time one (sometimes with no guaranteed hours) is plain miserable.  No things aren't getting any better, but at least ministers can make the figures look that way, if they feel like it.


  1. Hi, Tris. The PB situation gets ever more confusing - Mike Smithson left a comment last night saying I wasn't banned, which is a slightly bizarre claim given that every time I log in I get a big yellow message saying "the site has blocked you from making new comments"! There have been some suggestions that my banning might be a technical fault, but if so it's a remarkably convenient fault. I've written to Mike for clarification, but on past form I'm not hugely optimistic of getting a response.

    However, there's no doubt at all that Stuart Dickson has been banned, because Mike eventually admitted to that. He did say the ban was only "temporary", but gave no indication about time-frames.

  2. As to Cameron's dietary habits; if you were forced to play the "Biscuit Game" every night, you'd want to force it down as quickly as possible.

    Mind you, he probably never lost...

  3. Morning James,

    Confusing situation.

    I know that there are such things a coincidences, but I'm finding it hard to imagine the one where given the you relationship with the blog over the past few weeks, suddenly you can't access the site!!

    In any case I've had enough of reading a blog that purports to be non-aligned, but very effectively disguises its impartiality, and where most of the comments appear to be people trying to out-bitch each other.

    I take my hat off to the blog's popularity, of course; it obviously gets a large number of hits, judging by the long comments section. It quite puts Munguin's Republic to shame.

    That said, the Sun is the most popular newspaper in Scotland, followed by the Record. QED.

    As for Smithson's bans, arbitrarily handed out for being insolent (I've read some hum dinger insults about Scotland and Scots that seem to have gone unnoticed for their insolence: something about cans of Super Lager last night).Those and such as those appear to be excluded from the rules that apply to others.

    I know that some of the readers of Munguin's Republic use the blog list to access other material, which was why I asked if anyone had any issues about my removing it. I take it you don't have a problem with it ;¬).

  4. That, Conan, was an image I could well have done without this morning.

    I believe that practice is one which goes on in team locker rooms... I don't think the Bullingdon had locker rooms, and as that was the only society that Dave interested himself in during his "up at Oxford" days, I think he may have learned his eating habits elsewhere... House of Commons dining rooms maybe?

  5. Tris, In fairness to the PM, the picture of his mouth full of hot dog at the game must be judged in the light of American history and diplomatic protocol.

    It was 1939, and King George and Queen Elizabeth, on their return from a state visit to Canada, popped by to see FDR. It was a really big deal, since no British Sovereign had been to these shores since the revolution. And it was here that hot dog and burger diplomacy got its beginning, when FDR served the King and Queen American hot dogs at an informal picnic. He also instructed them that the "proper" American way to eat it was to grab one end, open wide, stuff as much of the other end in your mouth as you can, and chomp down.

    By all accounts the King was delighted and mastered the technique immediately. But the Queen was at a loss. Her mouth was simply not large enough she said. Whereupon FDR informed her that in such an emergency, etiquette allows that a knife and fork may be used.

    This was all widely reported in the press and has become an American legend. So since knives and forks are never available at sporting events, the PM was not only simply making do, he was solidly within American hot dog tradition, AND royal diplomatic protocol.

    Of course while your point regarding table manners at Eton is well taken, Etonian rules seldom apply on this side of the Atlantic. ;-)

  6. A few observations of my own from American shores:

    While the PM’s visit is an “official” not a “state” visit, the big dinner is nevertheless billed as a state dinner (since the host Mr. Obama is a head of state.) Since state dinners have generally outgrown the White House State Dining Room, such things are now held in a tent on the White House lawn. Not your garden variety tent of course, since it has carpeting, chandeliers, glass windows and air conditioning. On the menu last night was Bison Wellington. Since the great herds of American Bison that once roamed the Great Plains almost went extinct around 1900, they've made a comeback in managed herds. The herds are periodically thinned, and the meat sold. I’ve eaten the Bison substitute for beef and it’s not bad, but the way to have made this American Bison Wellington much better would have been to make it from prime grade “good ole American” Scottish Aberdeen Angus beef.

    I watched the photos of the Air Force One excursion, and was happy that the PM rated an entrance and exit through the president’s door up front. He was not relegated to the Newt Gingrich memorial exit back in the luggage compartment.

    And I see that video of the official White House welcoming ceremony and the State Dinner are now posted on the White House website. Thanks to White House generosity, you can download mp4 files. Get them while they're online.

    It all seemed to go without a hitch. American presidents apparently like these events, probably in the hope that some British culture and glamour will rub off. It rarely happens that way. The welcoming ceremony was held near the spot where George W. Bush welcomed Queen Elizabeth and commented on her previous state visit in 1776. What she said to him was not recorded. And then the state dinner toast reminded me of Mr. Obama’s visit to Britain when he offered a toast to her majesty DURING the playing of “God Save the Queen.” It took only a withering royal stare to make him sit his glass down and be quiet until the band quit playing her song. ;-)

  7. Once again, Danny, I am indebted to you for some cultural and historic information which had escaped me (like so much else). :)

    And so, if it was good enough for the king, it would be good enough for Little Lord Fauntleroy. (It was a most unedifying sight though, to watch him cram as much grub as he possibly could into his cake hole. I noticed the President managed it with a bit more decorum.)

    As an aside or addendum, I feel obliged to point out that that the Queen's mouth found itself to have grown a little larger when it came to the matter of downing Gin and Dubonnet, or vintage champagne.

    Indeed as Queen Mother well into her late nineties she was renowned for being able to drink most of her guests or hosts under the table. Three very large Gin and Dubonnets before lunch which would have left me lying in a heap on the floor, was just the start of the day's alcohol consumption for HM!

    A small mouth might have been her diplomatic way of excusing herself from eating burgers and hot dogs!

    I believe however she was fond of picnics, but tended to take foie gras, finely cut cucumber sandwiches and vintage bubbly along for refreshment.

  8. Ha ha ha ha Danny...

    Only HM the Q can make state visits from the UK. Cameron is but a functionary of her majesty. So he's lucky the state dinner wasn't just that hot dog!.

    I trust his manners improved for the dinner, and he didn't lick his plate!

    I was rolling about at the thought of the Newt Gingrich Memorial Entrance... But he (Newt) must surely be spitting feathers that the upstart Cameron got to use the president's door, while he used the luggage entrance.

    You remind us there too of the hapless Bush, and how he managed to get nothing right! I know the Queen's on the elderly side, but there's a limit to how long Brits can live, even ones with blue blood!

    I'm not a beef fan (strangely for a Scot) but I wouldn't mind trying Bison Wellington ...(I hope he doesn't give that to Monsieur Hollande when he visits! He may be a Napoleon fan!) But you're right; if beef is your meat, you really can't beat a good bit of Aberdeen Angus!

    I'll pass on the White House dinner. I can't stand to see Cameron's smarmy face. He is using this whole trip to big himself up with Mr Obama, and I find it nauseating (and worrying because there will be a quid pro quo). But thanks for posting the link. I'm sure some of the readers with less delicate stomachs than mine might find the sight of him to their taste!!!!

  9. Tris, thanks for your take on my comments. I hadn't realized that the Queen Mother had such a capacity for alcohol. And I can imagine her preferring foie gras and bubbly to hot dogs and Coke.

    As I understand it, the modern American beef industry as we know it began in 1873 with the importation to Kansas of some Aberdeen Angus bulls from Scotland, which were exhibited in Kansas City. More cattle were imported from Scotland, and the modern “American” beef industry was born. Today, the flagship burger at McDonalds is the 1/3 pound “Angus burger.” It’s the finest American cuisine available anywhere, and we have Scotland to thank for it. ;-)

    For those who wish to avoid the images of Cameron at the dinner, the White House website also has a video of the MAKING of the state dinner, starring the White House chefs. We see the Bison Wellington preparation, and the chefs out at Michelle’s vegetable garden on the White House lawn harvesting some dinner veggies. Mrs. Obama takes her vegetable garden very seriously it seems....quite a bit more seriously than most other Americans I would say.

    Finally, after reading about the PM’s visit in the Guardian, I must lodge a complaint. It describes the interior of Air force One this way:

    "But what’s it like on the inside? The answer is: surprisingly beige. The decor over its three-level, 4,000 sq ft interior is luxurious but hideous, with the carpets, upholstery, walls and accessories running the gamut of colour from cream to taupe. If the inside looks like a holdover from the Reagan years, it is: the current model was commissioned back in 1985 and the drab interiors were reportedly the work of Nancy Reagan...."

    The interior is HIDEOUS and DRAB??? Because it’s done in soft neutral colors? Why the very idea! A British newspaper dissing America’s pride and joy, Air Force One. If the colors were strong and bright, they would no doubt be called “hideous and gaudy” by the Guardian.

    Just curious if this is the first time that a British newspaper has ever been rude? ;-)

  10. Danny, I feel I must apologise on behalf of the rude journalist for that appalling criticism of Air Force One. Beige and taupe are the colours I've just painted my rooms so if I come across her/him there will be words!!!

    Royal decorations tend to be gaudy: all reds and golds... so IF the Queen had something like Air Force 1, it would probably be the kind of place you'd be begging them to pass the parachute!

    I'm just a little disturbed to know that Nancy Reagan and I have the same taste!

    The video of the cooking sounds much more interesting, and well done to the marvellous Mrs press-up Obama for having a vegetable garden. I thought Americans didn't eat veg!!! Is there nothing that woman can't do?

  11. Tris....

    Yes, it's definitely true that you never see a royal palace decorated in a style that could be called understated.

    And here is that clip showing the White House vegetable garden. And it mentions that the confections were made with White House honey. Mrs. Obama also keeps bees and makes honey it seems.

    BTW, the diplomatic gifts included a very pricey customized barbecue grill with customized White House chef's jackets, to commemorate a burger and hot dog (what else?) barbecue which was held for Mr. Obama at No. 10. And a crystal hand-etched vase of that White House honey. These nicely personalized gifts may be a bitter reminder of the set of DVD's which was given to Gordon Brown that wouldn't play on British DVD players. I really felt a little sorry for Gordon about that one.....LOL.

  12. So, the main thing to come from this anglo-american visit are (in no particular order) a rewording of the special relationship (I forget the exact new form) and the notion that David Cameron has nae cooth.

    I assume the visit to Air Force One was CGI'd, everyone knows a previous president (Harrison Ford) crashed it.

    A film you say?

    Oh right...

  13. That Harrison Ford flight was more eventful than most, but apparently a good reproduction of the interior of the plane. However the Air Force denies that the plane has an escape pod or even individual parachutes. But no one believes that anyone would confirm it if it did, what with it being a safety and security issue.

  14. Danny,

    You should never ever waste sympathy on the likes of Gordon Brown, who as a "socialist" (huh) increased the basic rate of income tax from 10 to 20%, hurting desperately the very poorest people in the country.

    He shouldn't have been wasting his time watching dvds in any case with all that poverty he managed to create.

  15. BTW thanks for sending the video. Excellent. I wonder if Michelle would like to send me some honey...? You might ask her next time you see her, Danny.

  16. Pa:

    A film of Camergoon shovelling free food down his screech, and kissing ass? Jeez, there have been nauseating films released but this would take the biscuit (if Conan will forgive me bringing that up again).

    Escape pod...?

    Can't be one, otherwise Obama would probably have retired to it when Cameron was slobbering all over him.

    And don't you think that the reiteration of the special relationship was a bit OTT. I mean, please, if your wife was giving you that kind of chat, wouldn't you suspect a touch of infidelity?

  17. I think its safe to say, the entire event was just an energetic bout of mutual political masturbation.

    Not great in terms of mental imagery, but what can you do.