However much you’ve forgotten by the age of 60, you still have the wisdom younger people lack: please – Brexiters and WASPIs – use it
Saying that age brings forgetfulness is not something likely to go viral any time soon, but if for much of your life the gift of long and accurate memory has been taken for granted, feeling it slip away is genuinely disturbing. In my case, I am blessed in that the long-term memory of significant events in my life is completely intact. But names (especially those of the famous) escape my brain with terrifying ease. After a certain age, one of the most important words in the English language becomes “Watssizname”, followed by “You know, used to be in The Forsyte Saga, er…played Douglas Bader in Reach for the Sky” and so on.
But I really am genuinely blessed, because my learning memory looks like it’s going to be there until I’m hopelessly gaga. That is to say, the only way we improve is by making mistakes, and then learning from them: those who don’t do so we term ‘politicians’….or, in some circles, Jihadists, Jesuits, and footballers.
The short-term recall stuff digs tunnels out of my head like a Colditz escapee on steroids. Each day begins with the search for the hammer, spanner, glasses, file, medication, mobile phone, wallet and repeat prescription I need in order to begin (let alone complete) that day’s tasks. But as long as the lessons-learned synapses are still firing first time, I’ll be content.
So, having established that, I’m using this (the most popular regular feature at The Slog) tonight in another attempt to engage with The Waspi Campaign leaders in charge of getting justice for their 2.4 million members and sympathisers ripped off in relation to State pension rights. Patronising as it may sound, I am asking WASPI’s management to learn from my experiences in dealing first-hand with Whiteminster pinstripes and politicians.
You can, if you like, reject my advice as emanating from a somewhat aggressive bloke who lacks the “politesse” you seem to crave. I note that three of the Waspi leadership have already blocked my Twitter comments anyway; to which I can only say that my concerns on strategy have nothing to do with gender politics at all: most blokes also find my realism equally obnoxious.
But obnoxious is as obnoxious does. As a politically unaligned man, I can assert that this is the most vile, dismissive, word-breaking, uncaring Government of my lifetime: and believe me, most legislators are bigoted, bullying idiots who rarely learn anything from their experiences…holding all citizens in the lowest of all low regard.
However, this shower stands clay feet and arseholes below anything that came before. Question my motives if you want, but I have only one.
I want you to triumph over Evil.
So persevere with this post if you can, judge the kind of male you think me to be, and then – I implore you – take my critique at face value.
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I went for a long walk through the damp and misty Lot et Garonne countryside this morning, and had that frequent experience of seeing Springlike things….then going back in my head to long-gone years when I was watching the same process with younger eyes.
Everywhere birds were chasing each other in and out of hedgerows, up and down trees and along pathways. No prizes for guessing what happens when Mr Goldfinch catches the raunchy new Ladygold finch in town. As I stepped out of the grange conversion, the woodpecker who took up residence here a fortnight ago was hammering away at one of the tall birch trees. He’s a fine looking chap: sporting a mixed mint and lime green coat with flashes of rust-red – and a brown/yellow check cap on his bonce – he looks for all the world like a Geordie pigeon fancier: Wee Woodie the litall wayesta, laike. As I walked through Heaton Park to St Margaret’s Primary School as a nine year-old kid, there was always at least one woodpecker bashing the bark. As my Mum used to say, “Oooh, fancy ‘avin’ ter do that with an ‘eadache”
I passed the farm close to retired engineer Jean-Pierre’s Citroen cemetery, and as I did so the milking machines turned on. I once spent a brief teenage holiday near Gainsborough close to a country pub called The Bricklayers’ Arms, and each morning the same thing happened at the dairy farm behind that. Later my first wife and I bought a cottage in Oxfordshire close to a milk and beef farmer: so it aways reminds me of that. The only rest from early-morning whirring milking machines we got was on Sundays, on which day the matins bell in the local Church would start up like full-blast Notre Dame at 7.00 am.
The full range of those years from other lives came racing back.
Every winter is a disaster or a massive bonus for thousands of species. As I walked down towards the large reservoir across from the commune’s 13th century chateau, it was immediately obvious that the very mild, wet winter here has been a boon for snails. There were millions of tiny newborn, dragging their new, almost translucent shells along with them. At this stage, they eat tons of calcium to speed up the process of turning the twirly-whirly house hard. Come June, of course, I’ll be cursing them, but close up and helpless, they seemed almost cute.
My neighbour Francis cultures the edible variety.I have always been an escargot fan, but the ones that gorge on soft veg are rarely if ever this type. However, thinking about them reminded me of a restaurant once beloved of writers, hacks and admen in London – L’Escargot – on the way from Fitzrovia to Soho. And on from there, memories of a truly naughty Stag night at the old (and original) Bertorelli’s came flooding back in lurid, dimly-lit Eastmancolor: all those amazing Jewish-Italian waitresses with moustaches, and the bedside manner of de Sade. What a wonderful place that was: one lunchtime there, I sat half-interested watching Harry H Corbett and Wilfred Brambell engaged in what appeared to be a profoundly serious conversation. It wasn’t until I read a biography of Corbett decades later that I realised Harry had been trying to persuade his comedy partner to do a fourth series of Steptoe & Son. I remember very vividly that Corbett stormed off and – in one of those unexpected silences that follow such things – could be clearly heard saying, “Christ, you get on my tits”.
Climbing back up a hill path back to my retreat, I regretted the decision to take the short cut: Sunday’s post-lunch quad bikes had – along with the rain – reduced the normally enchanting tunnel of creepers and wild damson trees to a trench straight from Somme Battle central casting. Stupidly, I was carrying a nice bit of dressed stone tossed casually away by the bloke from Normandy during his barn restorations at the bottom of the slope. If you remember that last, desolate scene from All Quiet on the Western Front, well – it looked and felt like that. The stone was lighter than Lew Ayres, but it still felt as though I was carrying Eric Pickles.
Every morning, you see, one awakes from sleep still under the illusion of being young. But the urgent need to urinate , and the back-ache as one exits the bed en route to the bathroom, tell you that you’re old.
But the lessons – lucky for me – remain intact. And the most important for me has always been “sod what the buggers say, observe what they do and judge how much you can or can’t rely on what they say”.
Let me just run some entirely typical David Cameron history past you all….with especially pointed relevance to all those trying – against the odds – to get some justice for the 1950s born women represented by the WASPI campaign.
Three years ago, Dave C Posey Greasy Dick & Snitch aka Camerlot came out bigtime for an end to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and their executives. At the time, David Cameron had this to say about not just tax evasion – but also cynical avoidance:
“I would not want anyone in my social or professional circle to be associated with such a thing”
While saying this, Cameron knew perfectly well that his own father had set up a company – whose wry brand name Blairmore cannot have been a coincidence – to deal specifically in the evasion of tax.
Within days, Cameron learned that Jeremy Hunt had brazenly flipped the definition of the offices he owned…in order to avoid potential tax on his dubious company Hotcourses.
The Prime Minister immediately sprung into action: he promoted Hunt to Health Secretary. He put in charge of the NHS a man who had co-authored a 2008 pamphlet calling for its utter destruction.
Cameron lied to the British people, and he lied to Parliament about his feelings on the issue. He used the memory of his dead, disabled son to proclaim his total commitment to the NHS…and then appointed a man to ensure it would be deviously bankrupted.
When Hunt was confronted with evidence to show conclusively that he had lied to the CM&S Committee about full access to his dealings with Newscorp regarding the BSKyB bid, he simply told the Commons “I have done nothing wrong”. Cameron backed him to the hilt.
The Prime Minister personally told victims of Newscorp phone hacking that he would “keep their experiences at the forefront of my mind” and ensure that such things “never happened again”. A Law was passed by Parliament designed to back that up…but it has yet to commence. Why? Because David Cameron remains vulnerable to Murdoch’s revenge. It is now clear to both Hacked Off and several senior journalists from all areas on the press rainbow that the PM is trying to renege on all his promises. Asked recently by the people he assured of his sentiments, Cameron brushed aside their concerns, and refused even to meet them. Power has shifted back to him and his cohorts. So he is not remotely interested in having given his word, or allowed legislation to pass. As a poke in the eye for democratic liberty, the PM’s calumny in this regard has no British equivalent that could even come close.
And so now we arrive at the Panama Papers. And what’s clear at last is what those of us close to the issue have been trying to tell people for six years: that Cameron the Great Tax Evader Finder General has been making personal gain from income off his father’s illegal Blairmore irony all along.
How can we be sure of this? Because the Prime Minister’s first response – “it’s a private matter” – was not that of an innocent man. And once his spin doctors got through his privilege-muddled thick skull that such an answer was nowhere near adequate, the best he could do was condemn himself further with the weaselly statement, “my family will not make any income in the future from this arrangement”.
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WASPI ladies, I have only this to offer as advice. You are dealing with an unrepresentative clique of power-consumed, sociopathic liars who will falsify their feelings, give their word and then break their word with equal insouciance.
They will show you zero respect, and offer only counterfeit sympathy. They will spout Christian virtues, but succumb easily to the Moneylenders. They are devoid of decency, a distillation of depravity, and the very dregs of decadence. They represent the interests of drug-money launderers, and fall meekly in line with warmongering geopoliticians. They pervert the Rule of Law, persecute those trying to restore it, and prosecute innocent citizens in the many pusillanimous causes of their paymasters.
I do not follow any ideology or resort to using your cause for political gain: there is no doubt in my mind that, if the Cameron Government were to fall after June 23rd, the Labour Party – regardless of Leader – will continue the same cynical, two-faced stonewalling in relation to your Citizen rights.
But I cannot withdraw from a simple observation: I alleged in a recent post here that the WASPI leadership had abandoned certain key aims related to recompensing those Waspis cheated out of their multiply-repeated State Pension promises.
Where the is denial of this allegation? To date I have only three Twitter blockings from Queen Wasps to show for it. With at the very least 325,000 innocent British women facing imminent destitution, I’m sorry but that response is not good enough. The WASPI rank and file should demand an an answer: IS THE ALLEGATION TRUE OR NOT?
Over nearly seven decades, I have forgotten more than I would wish to. But one learning will never be erased until the plastic cup with suck-holes in the top beckons.
You cannot have degrees of justice. There is only justice, or injustice.
The WASPI Campaign will never get justice until it takes this learning on board: only a clear, concerted and dogged threat to the Camerlot grip on power will ever stand a chance of success when dealing with Britain’s Political Executive as it exists today.
I do not enjoy writing that. My aim is still – in however tiny a way – to get back to a Britain where democracy is functional, not optional. But you must stop seeing the current crop of senior legislators and bureaucrats as people who accept the well-meaning aims of coffee mornings, choirs and polite engagement. Accept them? They despise them…they ridicule such endeavours. To them, you are dogdirt on their shoes.
I have posted already to the effect of having no desire to be divisive. But trust me, whether divided or united in a belief in civilised, genteel discussion to achieve your ends, you will fail.
Only a united, gritty determination to threaten the hold on power this Government has engineered (thanks to a neolithic electoral system) stands any chance at all of success.