Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Thursday, November 24, 2011

John Mayall, Perth Concert Hall 14 November 2011

At the start of the 1970s I bought (from a second-hand record stall at Shudehill Market in Manchester) an LP by John Mayall called Looking Back. This was a retrospective of the already impressive career of the man whose Bluesbreakers band had given early opportunities to Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Peter Green, John McVie, Henry Lowther and many other great British musicians. Mayall was old enough to have served in the Korean War, for heaven's sake.

So when I saw a tour by John Mayall announced my first thought was "Mayall's ALIVE?" (you have to imagine it in a Brian Blessed voice). Followed rapidly by "Where do I get a ticket?"

I am pleased to announce that, only a couple of weeks short of his 78th birthday, John Mayall was not only alive but very definitely kicking. You would never guess his age to look at him: the grey hair would lead you to think he was in his sixties, maybe, and very well-preserved (lean, fit, and full of vigour).

First up were the support band, a very good guitar/bass/drums trio called the Oli Brown Band. OB was the guitarist, and very competent he was too. I thought they were interesting rather than gripping, but they certainly showed that British blues playing has a secure future.

After the break Mayall and his band (no longer the Bluesbreakers - he retired that name several years back) came on. His band is all-American: Rocky Athas from Texas on guitar, Jay Davenport from Chicago on drums, and the extraordinary Greg Rzab - also from Chicago - on bass. First of all, John came on by himself and played a harmonica solo, in case we'd forgotten what his main instrument was (after all, on The Blues Alone he played a wide variety of them). In the course of the evening he would play plenty more harmonica, along with keyboard (mostly configured as piano rather than organ) and guitar. And of course he sang. His voice isn't quite as powerful as it was in his youth, but his playing skills are undiminished. I was a little sorry we didn't really get to hear him on organ, on which he was always a master.

I couldn't tell you all the numbers he did in his set, though I did note Nature's Disappearing, Mail Order Mystics and a stonking version of Room To Move. The entire band was terrific: I suspect getting into any of Mayall's bands is as much a badge of achievement as making it into the Magic Band or the Mothers of Invention. To think they were being (brilliantly) led by a guy who was already 21 when I was born beggars belief. Sometimes when you see legends they disappoint, sometimes they donlt. And sometimes they exceed expectations: this was one of those times. The audience may have been fairly small, and mostly of my generation, but it made up in enthusiasm what it lacked in numbers and youth.

Oh, and when Mayall and his band came back on for an encore, they brought Oli Brown back on with them to trade solos with Rocky Athas. I thought that summed up the generous spirit of the one and only father of British Blues.

Let There be Light

Durham Lumiere is a festival I(I think it's annual) of lighting installations mounted in the city of Durham (where I was once a student).

Here is a link to a lot of photographs of this year's Lumiere. I must say it does look amazing.

The projections inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels which were thrown onto the exterior of the cathedral reminded me of the amazing work that has been done at Amiens Cathedral, where a similar kind of projection recreates the original polychromatic appearance of the Western Facade:

Maybe this is what he's trying to hide

Take a look at this from the guy now heading up the British Freedom Party.

Hmm. where have we seen that equation of white UK citizens with "the indigenous race" before? Who else believes that the country is (or indeed has been at any time since the 1970s) run by socialists? That we are being "over-run" by scrounging immigrants? That it's all the fault of left-wing intellectuals and the EU?

Why do you NEVER complain about the lies THESE people say about our police and our soldiers? Why do you never defend the British indigenous people? Why are you so pro these creatures – these debased inhuman ANIMALS (in my opinion)?

Yes, it's good old BlairSupporter (Uncle Jimmy) in a post on last year's Remembrance Day protest by Muslims Against Crusades.

And here he is in 2008:

We watched as little was done to force the incomers to conform. In fact the incomers had their umpteen languages catered for in order that they could claim our benefits.

Aside: in that same post Jimmy says "Right now in the USA presidential race there is a debate as to whether Barak Obama is still a Muslim (12% of both Democrats and Republicans think he still is)."

"Still" a Muslim? So to Jimmy it goes without saying that he was born a Muslim? Fruitcake alert.....

And he also says

"...individuals have to seek their own guidance on the validity of The Covenant (the WHAT? We do not use that kind of language in modern secular states. Send it back to the 7th century.)..."

which would come as a surprise to the Jerusalem Post (though of course Israel is neither secular nor modern: the country may be less than seventy years old but its theocratic code was old and tired in Jesus's time, let alone Muhammad's).


Sorry - where was I? Oh yes, Jimmy and our being over-run by (foreign - because WE ALL KNOW they can't be British) Muslims:

An issue which all the main political parties, shamefully, dare not mention, AT ALL. The growing, creeping Islamistisation of Britain (and the world) If it features at all, it will be obliquely, in the perennial Tory “tighten up the borders” plea, or the “stop immigration” calls of the British Nationalist Party or the “withdraw from the EU” mantra of the UK Independence Party. And even in these cases it is unlikely to be as prominent as the Guilty (political) Parties might wish it to be, if they were brave enough. All of these issues, policing borders, immigration, the EU are emblematic of the REAL and UNMENTIONABLE fears of many in this country. But, the BNP apart, possibly, you won’t hear it mentioned in local election leaflets.

....Muslim Sharia law already exists here in Great Britain, and is supported by state benefits....

So there you are: only UKIP and the BNP tell it like it is. Or now, evidently, the BFP. How long before Jimmy comes out and publicly begins to campaign for the BFP? Is that what he's trying to hide behind his brand-new initiates-only firewall?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seven Little Girls and One Little Bikini

You may have noticed that Lee Pockriss died this week. He was responsible for the tune of Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini. (Incidentally, the story behind the lyrics of that song is amusing: see here.) Neil Diamond's first time in a recording studio was when he was hauled in to sing backing vocals on it.

But Pockriss also write the tunes for other big hits. One of the first songs I remember from my youth is Perry Como's Catch A Falling Star: another of Pockriss's tunes. But surely the ear-wormiest of them all is this gem. When I posted it on Facebook recently I had a load of comments from friends (not all of them as old as me...) who remembered it fondly.

R.I.P. Lee Pockriss.

The Ten Unguessed First Lines

OK, now we're one month on from when I posted my Twenty-Five First Lines quiz, and ten of the songs remain unguessed. I've posted the answers and video clips on the original post. Go and kick yourselves.

I'm not surprised nobody got Decameron: that was always going to be a bit out of the way. t.A.t.U? Well, I thought with the hint somebody might get them, but I suppose I'm not too amazed that nobody did. Janis Ian I think Lisa nearly got, but then she chickened out. (And my clue about typography was that if you Google "Janis Ian at 17" as opposed to "At Seventeen", up comes this video clip).

But Kylie? Robbie Williams? Iron Maiden? Dire Straits? The Darkness? Jon and Vangelis? Sandy Denny? Not exactly obscure, surely? And not even obscure tracks.

Oh well.....

There are some fun videos though. Justin Hawkins hams up the miming on TOTP. The Janis Ian one is a treat. "Gomenasai" is a beautiful song, and t.A.t.U. demonstrate that they can sing perfectly well when not dressed as schoolgirls. And the Kylie video is wonderful.


Somebody should tell CERN at once

Ludicrous American Nazi site BareNakedIslam has a shock horror story from the Daily Mail (so you know it's true, right?) about the Red Cross "banning Christmas" from its shops.

There are three problems with the story.

First of all, in the report it clearly states that "Items currently on sale include Christmas cards featuring angels and wise men and Advent calendars with nativity scenes." Uh-huh. Some ban then.

Secondly, it isn't true, as the Red Cross point out here.

And thirdly, the Daily Mail published the story in 2002.

Wow. I always knew these hillbilly survivalist types were behind the times, with the way they go on about how terrible it is to have gays in the military, votes for women, a black man in the White House and all that, but I hadn't realised it took nine years for news from the civilised world to reach them. Maybe they live in some strange dimensional warp whose flip side is what causes neutrinos to go faster than light. Hmm. Let's see. A neutrino arrives 10 nanoseconds early in Italy, while in Texas a Daily Mail news report arrives nine years late. As a neutrino carries 28,401,840 billion times more information than a Daily Mail report, yup, this balances precisely.

Now, at this point I have deliberately not looked at the comments on the BNI post. My guess is that nobody will have pointed out the date discrepancy. My second guess is that if anyone did, BNI will find some way of rationalising it as though it were current. But I'm going to plump for total failure of reading skills. OK, let's go look.....

It's funny. There are 100 comments. The first 15 are standard rug-chewing stuff. #16 points out that the story is an outdated rumour that started last year (OK, eight years off, but on the right lines). BNI itself responds in comment #24 that "Where there's smoke there's fire. Give it a few years and you'll see more." So my second guess was pretty much spot on, then. Then comment #29 nails the story as a 2002 one already shown up as a fake. Commenter #42 believes the story but notes that the Red Cross have denied it. In comment #51 BNI admits to doubts over the story. Comment #63 reckons it doesn't matter that it's an old fake, the Red Cross are Muslim-lovers, innit? (#63 is an EDL supporter.) At comment #99 we get another acknowledgement that the story may be a fake, and bringing up the rear at #100 the sole sensible comment which I reproduce in full:

Lisa Stacey I lived in the middle east for 3 years and I have heaps of Muslim friends. Not one of them would even conceive of being offended by Xmas. Non Muslim people are scared of Islamic extremist reaction to non Islamic things, but that in itself is not islamic and the very nature of anything extreme, especially religious extremism, is based on a lack of understanding and interpretation of the very thing you’re pretending to believe in. Sadly, the minority, the extremists, of any sort always create a bad name for the majority.

Christmas is not celebrated in Arabic countries (obviously!) but I and my ‘Christian’ (mostly non practising) colleagues were always given time off to celebrate it. We were frowned upon if we said we were happy to come to work with everyone else.

I think it’s really sad that people react to the minority simply because the majority doesn’t make a fuss….no just in this, but in everything.

Sadly, I suspect Lisa Stacey is in for a great deal of abuse shortly on that comment thread.

But what is most gratifying for those of us enjoying a good laugh is the huge number of commenters who ploughed on with their "Boycott the Red Cross" comments even after it was pointed out that the story is a nine-year-old fake. Maybe that nine-year time lag applies to their reading of comments too, and we'll start getting sensible ones posted by the hillbillies in 2020.

Meanwhile, a Merry Christmas 2002 to all you American Nazis out there.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Look, we've seen this kind of thing before

Oh great. just what we need: a new "British" Nazi party.

Policies in its constitution include discrimination against Jews, Muslims, the disabled and trade unionists, introduction of the death penalty for a host of new offences as well as the old ones, censorship, banning of charities not party-approved, and the promotion of smoking (eh?) All this and Kinder, Küche und Kirche too.

Next up: annexation of the Sudetenland.

As my employers would say: for the Journey

I recently bought One Night Stand by Therapy (on good solid 1970s vinyl). Listening to it for the first time in a few decades, I was struck by a song I remembered but couldn't for the life of me identify. It turned out to be a cover of Duncan Browne's Journey. Which raises the question, why did Duncan Browne never cross my radar before?

Here is the original, which starts well but gets rather over-produced by Mickie Most later on. I think I shall be seeking out some more Duncan Browne, though. A singer-songwriter even more neglected than Jackson C Frank? How can I resist?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Here Comes The Sun

Somebody just pointed out that today is the 42nd anniversary of the first appearance of a Page three girl in The Sun newspaper.

So it is.

It's also the 41st anniversary of the first topless Page Three girl.

Which prompts the question, why did it take them a year to work out what their readership really wanted?

Time to get a glass of wine...

Revisionist history from BlairSupporter

By chance (actually when Googling to try to find out whether my outbound flight from Glasgow to Berlin would be likely to be delayed much by the 30th November strike: apparently not, as I suspected) I encountered an old post of Uncle Jimmy's from 18 November 2008. As the poor dear is now hiding his posts from the view of lesser mortals, it seems only fair to give an airing to another of his pieces of utter idiocy. In a piece on the guy who tried to car-bomb Glasgow airport, he wrote:

Here in Britain we do not attack, bomb, shoot, injure or attempt to kill in any way political leaders or anyone else because of differences of opinions on foreign, or indeed ANY policy. That’s freedom and democracy for you. We vote them out of power. We do not blow them to kingdom come.



And this can't have happened, because Jimmy says so.

Hint for the American fool: those of us who actually lived in Britain during the IRA's bombing campaign will never forget it, nor are we likely to fall for the lies of those like yourself who try to pretend that terrorism is wholly, or even mostly, a Muslim phenomenon. While you were living in a country that had hardly had a terrorist attack (Tim McVeigh was still in the future) we were living with regular bombings.

The American tradition is to shoot political opponents rather than bombing them, of course. That's freedom and democracy for you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What I Tell You Three Times Is Surely Pretty Damned Easy

OK, so entries have stopped arriving for the 25 First Lines quiz despite my post of hints.

So here's the deal. This post will be the final set of extra clues. After this, if nobody makes any more guesses I'll post the answers. What I'll do here is provide three further levels of hint:

1) I'll specify which of my clues from last time goes with which unguessed song

2) I'll give more of the lyrics to each song

3) I'll give a crossword-type word/letter count for each of the titles

OK, here we go.

Number 5 (3,3,7,2,4)

This is the one by the Canadian national treasure.

It's so nice to meet an old friend and pass the time of day
And talk about the home town a million miles away
Is the ice still on the river, are the old folks still the same
And by the way, did she mention my name
Did she mention my name just in passing
And when the morning came, do you remember if she dropped a name or two
Is the home team still on fire, do they still win all the games
And by the way,......

Number 9 (6,6)

The classic British folk-rock track I thought Phil would get quickly.

The young man rose his pretty face,
All for to feel the salty spray.
When storms are mustering they say
I'll come and take you all away.

I am a traveller by trade,
I only have what I have made.
A fortune teller too they say,
And I can take you all away.

Number 11 (6,2,4)

"One from a classic album by a great British band. It was the next but one album that would move them from stardom to superstardom, though."

Getting crazy on the waltzers but it's the life that I choose.
Sing about the sixblade, sing about the switchback and a torture tattoo.
And I been riding on a ghost train where the cars they scream and slam
And I don't know where I'll be tonight, but I'd always tell you where I am.

In a screaming ring of faces I seen her standing in the light;
She had a ticket for the races: just like me, she was a victim of the night.
I put a hand upon the lever, said "Let it rock and let it roll"
I had the one arm bandit fever, there was an arrow through my heart and my soul.

Number 13 (3,4,2,3,4)

"A collaboration by two giants of progressive rock, one of whom was once memorably described by a Capital Radio DJ as having the biggest electricity bill in the EU. This track probably racked up a few kWh for him."

You ask me where to begin? - Am I so lost in my sin?
You ask me where did I fall? - I'll say I can't tell you when.
But if my spirit is lost, how will I find what is near?
Don't question - I'm not alone.....

Number 14 (7,7)

This is the obscure one: "The title track from a 1970s album by a British folk-rock group one of whose members was a member of a family famous for confectionery (and he really was, it wasn't just a coincidence of names)."

They could see there was something special about the man in white,
The ladies there were careful to treat him right.
Everyone was running around at his beck and call,
But when they handed him the menu, it was everyone against the wall

Number 15 (7,5)

This is the one Lisa thought she had the artist of. "An American singer-songwriter, also with a long career, whose songs inspired a book of science fiction stories (which I own but haven't yet read). Her best-known song is very well-known indeed, and came right at the start of her career (which must be frustrating)."

Do me a favor, kid,
Tell me what is was I did,
To make you wanna live without me?
You're not being fair,
Let down your hair,
Make it clear why you doubt me.
Don't really know
What you think I done, or why.
But all you gotta do is tell me.
I'll apologize.
And I don't want anything much if you'll just....

Number 17 (4,2,4)

This is one of the songs by a female artist famous for part of her anatomy. And both the song, and the anatomy, are very well-known indeed.

Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen;
pour myself a cup of ambition,
and yawn, and stretch, and try to come to life.
Jump in the shower, and the blood starts pumping;
out on the street, the traffic starts jumping,
with folks like me on the job.......

Number 18 (5,4,8,2,3,9)

A track by a British heavy metal band

Honey it's getting close to midnight
And all the myths are still in town
True love and lipstick on your linen
Bite the pillow, make no sound
If there's some living to be done
Before your life becomes your tomb
You'd better know I'm the one
Unchain your back door, invite me around

Number 19 (8)

This is the one by the British band probably best summed up as "glam metal".

Oh lord, I'm so bored
Living on my own
You're devilish and dirty
They say you're pushing thirty
Well pushing thirty stone

Oh Christ, I'm enticed
I want you in my sack
You're potty-mouthed and brassy
You're anything but classy
I've just got to get you back

It's been a while since I've seen that smile
But the old magic's still there.....

Number 21 (3,2,5)

The other female singer famous for a bit of her anatomy (though not such a byword as the other lady).

Clever girl
Think you are but you think too much
Shut down turn around
Don't look that way any more

Clever girl
Think you know but you don't know much
Try to make a move
Go to a different door

You know it's all in your head
You better put that business to bed
By your fair hands of design you met with
The monster in your mind

Number 22 (4,8)

"A British singer-songwriter who seems to have been around for ever. This was one of his comparatively few songs to make it into the charts, sufficiently at least to get some airplay."

It was late in December, the sky turned to snow
All round the day was going down slow
Night like a river beginning to flow
I felt the beat of my mind go
Drifting into.....

Number 23 (9,4,6)

A song by a male singer who had a big hit duetting with the singer of Number 21.

You said I was northern scum
I was wounded baby
That's fighting talk where I'm from
And I'm not moving baby
Spent my life dancing with shadows in strobe lights
It's alright, everything mellows in sunlight

And now London's got its gimmicks
And New York's had its minute....

Number 24 (9)

"One hit by a foreign duo who might have fitted effortlessly into the Daz Sampson video." Because of how they dressed in their early days, perhaps? The song is in English, though the title is not:

What I thought wasn't mine
In the light wasn't one of a kind,
A precious pearl
When I wanted to cry I couldn't,
'Cos I wasn't allowed

And that, said Rob, is that.

BareNakedIslam: hates Jews, loves terrorists

There's no pleasing some folk. Our favourite Nazi faux-Jewess at BareNakedIslam is saddened that a hundred-year-old Polish/Jewish bakery in Detroit is to close because nobody wants to buy its produce. This, apparently, shows that the "islamiization" of Detroit is nearly complete. Actually it just shows market forces at work: if you make stuff nobody wants, you go broke, even if you're Jewish. (Ain't reality a bitch?)

So when a similar Jewish bakery in Brooklyn is saved from going out of business, BNI will be pleased, right? DUH...of course not, because the people saving it are Muslims. BNI would rather a Jewish business went under than that an ex-employee who happens to be Muslim should save it. Jews who support keeping the business open are wicked "liberal Jews" (ie real Jews rather than fakes like BNI). Some of BNI's commenters (the ones who don't simply assume this is a wicked Mooslim plot to poison decent New York Jews) reckon Muslims are not allowed to eat kosher food. LOL! - the Q'uran explicitly permits it.

Still, maybe BNI was in a rush. After all, it had ads to run for a terrorist organisation (according to the FBI) as well as calling for the President of the USA to be tortured.

Sometimes a picture isn't worth a thousand words

Monday, November 14, 2011

Procul, procul, o este profani

My regular readers will be familiar with my occasional posts on the more egregious pieces of rubbish posted by "Uncle Jimmy", the American racist whose blog Keep Tony Blair For PM gives rise to such hilarity and mirth.

Jimmy has for a long time now banned comment on his blog from those deemed insufficiently worthy: not Aryan enough, perhaps, or insufficiently in thrall to the resistible charms of the lying pocket-liner who once disgraced Downing Street. Now as you will see if you follow the link above, Jimmy has decided that we profane ones cannot be trusted even to read his pearls of wisdom without being vetted and approved first.

Well, of course, thanks to the magic of Google's cache those of us who take an interest in the "enemy within" can continue to watch what he's doing, so if he imagines that he can continue to pump out his Islamophobic blood libels and his hatred against non-white Britons unobserved, he has a rude awakening ahead of him. Just key the words from the now-blocked URL into Google and click on "cached". Et voila.

At least he hasn't yet seen fit to unburden himself of another diatribe on Remembrance day. Last year, you may recall, he posted a piece in which he accused the BBC of anti-British bias (pretty good coming from an American) because they considered that an EDL thug smashing a policeman's face in with a club was worthy of coverage along with a bunch of Muslim protestors burning paper poppies. Jimmy of course just had to add his own tuppence (sorry, two cents') worth: "OUR poppy, you dullard, is not about the Middle East". Well, that's all those grieving widows of soldiers killed in Iraq given a telling, Jimmy. Nothing like respecting our heroic armed forces on Remembrance Day, eh? Maybe the "death threats" Jimmy claims to have received have come from angry squaddies who don't like being told their dead mates don't matter by a Yankee creep sitting on his arse cheerleading for terrorists.

At least this year the police took a firm line against the armed thugs who planned to disrupt the commemorations. I await Jimmy's howls of protest at the arrest of these poor white darlings who wanted to do nothing more sinister than beat up some leftists and burn down their tents. Committing arson and assault on Church of England property while normal people commemorated dead soldiers: what a wonderful defence of English values from the EDL.

Jimmy's mates over at barenakedislam are furious about this, of course, so no doubt Jimmy will soon be following their lead as in everything else. Of course, the white supremacists at BNI believe that it was the EDL who caused the government to ban Muslims Against Crusades a few days ago (Earth to morons: the British government isn't run by fascist mobs yet however much you might wish it).

Nemo eas impune lacessit

Let's not forget the women of Yemen, one of whom shared the Nobel Peace prize this year. They have been burning their veils: not in any kind of anti-Islamic or feminist protest (there are thousands of Yemeni women who have never worn a veil in their lives) but as a piece of tribal symbolism, calling on fellow tribesmen for help to stop the vicious attacks on protestors by forces loyal to the beleagured President.

Remember that Yemen was home to one of the feistier women in the Bible/Torah/Q'uran, to wit Bilqis, Queen of Sheba. Ali Abdullah Saleh had better watch his step.

Signs of hope: women take to the streets to demand equality in a vicious theocracy

There is a country in the Middle East where peaceful political demonstrations are put down with live ammunition. where political prisoners are kept in solitary confinement for years, are likely to be tortured and/or raped, and on their "release" are confined to house arrest and forbidden to leave the country. A country where religious leaders proclaim that followers of the state religion are obligated to murder those of other religions, and where the books in which they do so become best-sellers. A country where access to the basic rights of citizenship depends on your religion; where the media are heavily censored; where religious police enforce segregation of the sexes on public transport and at social gatherings, and require women to cover their hair and wear long dresses in public for fear of exciting lust. A country where the government openly funds terrorist organisations. A country with uninspected and unregulated weapons of mass destruction, and the means to deliver them into any country it wishes. A country which has invaded every one of its neighbours, which scorns peace negiotiations, and which ignores both the United Nations and the international community as a whole.

Have you guessed where it is yet? It is, of course, Israel. And if that's the only democracy in the Middle East, then I'm the only lesbian in Indo-China.

In a recent post explaining why Israel should be expelled from UNESCO I declared that Israel's contribution to culture was the desecration and destruction of archaeological sites. Important though that programme is, I would hate to give the impression that it is Israel's sole contribution to culture. One cannot, for example, forget Israel's role in music. It bans touring musicians or simply attacks them with tear gas, has singers flogged for performing before mixed audiences and censors CDs. Of course, protests against Israeli musical propagandists in foreign countries are routinely derided as antisemitism little short of building gas-chambers, even though such protests hardly ever involve the use of whips or tear-gas. (Now imagine if the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's Promenade Concert had been greeted with a couple of CS grenades...that might have justified the whining.) (Incidentally, to judge from a review of their undisturbed concert a few nights later the protest may have saved the evening from being one of unrelieved tedium leavened only by the disruptive presence of noisy Mossad agents. )

Anyway, Israel's place in worldwide musical culture as a country where women are attacked and beaten for performing music, has led to a domestic backlash by women who are fed up with being second-class citizens and have begun to protest. It is especially brave of them as the culture of misogyny goes right to the heart of the Israeli Army (and thus in one of the world;s most militaristic societies, of israeli life in general). I dare say the protestors who aren't shot will vanish into the Gulag, but it's a brave attempt, and one wishes them well in their struggle for democracy and against religious tyranny.

Update: it happened. And they're not dead yet. Not flogged, even. There's progress towards the twenty-first century, right there.

Making a splash

I'm not sure whether it's because we saw one of the world's biggest cruise liners steaming past our hotel window when we were in Valletta last year, or whether it's that one of my former work colleagues (next to whom I was sitting in a restaurant just over a week ago) is becoming a habitual cruise voyager in her retirement. For whatever reason, I found this Guardian article (which I read earlier this evening)very disturbing, not to say horrifying.

Read it. If you find the cavalier attitude of cruise operators to the fate of their staff and passengers appalling, take a look at this website to get involved.

The Darkness: HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, 9 November 2011

Yes, they're back - Justin, Dave, Frankie and Ed - and on Wednesday in Edinburgh it was as though they'd never been away.

There were two supports. I missed the name of the first, who were an American grunge quartet who could best be described in Douglas Adams's memorable phrase as "mostly harmless". The second, though, were totally unmissable in every sense. Foxy Shazam, the band whose name appears to have been picked for its scoring potential in Scrabble, erupted onto the stage and blew us all away. How can I describe them? Well, think of Madness at their zaniest, but playing loud punk and fronted by a singer channelling Freddie Mercury. One should mention their trumpeter, who has a great line in throwing and catching his instrument, and the keyboardist who is bald and has a dense Islamic beard: imagine one of the cast of "Four Lions" playing a keyboard with Pete Townsend-style windmilling (and at one point getting the crowd to hold his keyboard for him). They were totally insane and utterly wonderful: ten out of ten to whoever booked them as support.

Then it was time for The Darkness. As usual, their entrance was preceded by a playing of "Arrival" by Abba, giving way to a stonking version of "Black Shuck". OK, they've scaled down their act now they're not playing stadia, but the pyrotechnics are still very impressive. Justin now sports a beard and his hair is shaggy rather than long and flowing (I've seen it described as the Catweazle look, which is a bit cruel), and he starts the evening in normal clothes, gradually shedding bits until about halfway through the set he reappears in a pink and white catsuit (in case we thought he'd abandoned them altogether). He changed into another catsuit later on: oh, and he has even more tattoos now. Whereas on the first two gigs I saw he took his guitar on a tour of the audience via an overhead railway affair (first time he rode in a white tiger, second time in a gigantic pair of breasts), this time he simply clambered onto the back of a security man and was carried aloft into the audience. So we got to touch the man himself (well, that's me free of scrofula for a few years) and my son high-fived him in passing: harder to do when he's forty feet up in a pair of tits.

Musically they were as tight as ever. the reason I loved The Darkness originally wasn't the glam, it was the musicality: like Marc Bolan but less deceased. They were clearly having the time of their lives on this tour, working their socks off but loving every minute. They dedicated one number to Frankie's Mum who was in the audience (though I didn't spot her), and in the smaller venue were able to get a real rapport going with the crowd.

So what did we get? Well, the whole of "Permission to Land" for starters, and some more recent hits and B-sides (including their Christmas single, which pleased me greatly). Several new songs which seem to be well up to the old standard, and a couple of cover versions. Nor are they afraid to mess around with their heritage: the version of "Holding My Own" we got was a Justin Hawkins unplugged solo. It would have been a tremendous gig under any circumstances: as a comeback it was impressive indeed.

Here's the full setlist:

Black Shuck
Growing On Me
Best Of Me
One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back!
Nothing's Gonna Stop Us
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
Out Of This World
Holding My Own
Love Is Only A Feeling
Concrete Lion
Friday Night
Is It Just Me?
Street Spirit (Radiohead cover)
Givin' Up
Stuck In A Rut
Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)


Bareback / Tie Your Mother Down (Queen cover)
I Believe In A Thing Called Love
Love On The Rocks With No Ice

Friday, November 11, 2011


Lest we forget.

President Obama demonstrates that he is no more moral then al-Qaeda (and has less savvy PR advisors)

With Uncle Jimmy's comments about how human rights are for everyone ringing in my ears, I link to a thought-provoking recent piece at Loonwatch on the extrajudicial murder of Anwar al-Awlaki. Not a nice chap, to be sure, but for the US government to be assassinating its own citizens rather than attempting to bring them to justice is surely not something to be encouraged. Sending a hit squad to bump off Osama was poor form, though at least OBL had freely confessed to crimes which would have earned him the death penalty in the US anyway. AAA was guilty only of cheerleading for terror, and if that marked him out for death I breathlessly await the first IS drone strike on Benyamin Netanyahu ([/irony])

Seriously: if being an American citizen doesn't get you access to even the most basic kind of US justice, what is the point of US citizenship? What is the point of America if a President courting popular acclaim can over-ride all its constitutional safeguards in pursuit of the mythical "war" on "terror"?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hebrides Ensemble, "American Pioneers", Queens Hall, Edinburgh 8 November 2011

So on Tuesday night I went to the Queen's Hall to see Will Conway, who is currently guesting as Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra's conductor, doing one of his day jobs, viz. leading the Hebrides ensemble in a programme of twentieth century American classics.

They began with Jennifer Higdon's Smash. I didn't know her or it prior to this concert, and I'd read a review which suggested it was pretty much a waste of time and out of place in this programme. OK, it's not a masterpiece but it was good fun and the ensemble played it well. It seems clear enough why they programmed it: it was the only piece in the evening where all five of the musicians came together, thus avoiding the unsatisfactory feeling that you've been watching a random assemblage of musicians.

Next up was John Adams' Road Movies for violin (Alexander Janiczek) and piano (Philip Moore). I like Adams a lot, but chamber music isn't really his strong point, and I thought this piece dragged rather, especially in its central movement. It seemed to be well played, though if Adams' notes on the piece are to be believed I would have expected more swing in the last movement. On the whole I enjoyed it less than the Higdon, though.

The pair were joined onstage by Will Conway on cello to perform Charles Ives' wonderful (and rarely heard) Piano Trio. A fairly early work, the trio is full of quotations from hymns and folk tunes. Its scherzo is subtitled "TSIAJ: This Scherzo Is A Joke", which is what scherzo means. It certainly is, with characteristic polytonality and all kinds of fun and games before a "ta-daa!" ending. The last movement is extremely lyrical and beautiful, culminating in a moving quotation from "Rock Of Ages". a lovely piece, and the Hebrides Ensemble are to be praised for unearthing it.

After the interval we moved forward in time. Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint required clarinettist Yann Ghiro to record ten overdubbed tracks of clarinet and bass clarinet, and then to add an eleventh line in live performance. It's a wonderful piece, and I would think making the recordings was far more taxing than playing the live part. Yann got completely into the music, though, and gave as wonderful a performance as I could imagine: real fun music-making, albeit with ten copies of himself. (BTW, the bass clarinet lines rock: this is one of those pieces that makes me wish I played the instrument.)

Finally, the main work of the evening was George Crumb's 1970s piece for flute, cello and piano The Voice of the Whale. It is a piece very much of its time: the players are required to wear masks, and perform bathed in blue light. It makes use of extended techniques: the flautist (Fiona Paterson) has to sing into her flute while playing it, the pianist strums the piano strings with a stick and damps them with cloths, and various players whistle. I read a review from earlier on the tour which described the lighting and masks as "unnecessary gimmicks". That's much too harsh: the piece is certainly of its time, but it was intended as a piece of performance art as well as of music. One might as well describe Nagg and Nell's dustbins in Beckett's Endgame, or Winnie's pile of sand in Happy Days, as unnecessary gimmicks: true in a sense, but missing the point. The music itself is a joy, probably Crumb's greatest achievement and deserving of more performances. (It's OK for me, I have the original recording on vinyl, but live stagings are as rare as hen's teeth.) All the performers are amplified, which led to a wee problem of feedback on three occasions at least which I spotted. I noticed the hum (round about D above middle C) and saw Will Conway's masked visage turn up towards the sound mixer each time. Methinks there is one sound man whose Christmas bonus just evaporated.....

A great evening, and one I really only attended on a whim. The power of word of mouth, and of the well-placed flyer. The ensemble is returning in March to give us Messaien's Quartet For The End Of Time, which on this showing will be in very safe musical hands indeed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

In case of urgent scapegoat requirement, break glass.

78 years ago today it was Kristallnacht, when the Nazis went round breaking windows and otherwise wrecking synagogues, Jewish homes and Jewish-owned businesses. Because, as everyone knew, the Jews were the source of all that was evil in the Third Reich.

Today the ideological successors of those Nazis are still with us, burning down mosques, spitting on women in the street if they choose to wear headscarves, attacking people because they "look Muslim", laying the blame for every kind of crime at the door of Islam, or if not Islam then "immigrants". While people in Britain seem mostly content to look the other way, in the rest of Europe there is more general remembrance of what fascism led to comparatively recently, and the International Day against Fascism and Antisemitism attracts more of a following.

In a week when we are all exhorted to remember the fallen in the Second World War (among other casualties of war) let us not forget what they died to save us from.

Monday, November 07, 2011

If he didn't, he should've

"The trouble with quotes on the internet is that they are difficult to verify"

Abraham Lincoln

(Thanks to my friend Peter Coates for this.)

A better-known duo, and deservedly so

Perhaps because the BBC are doing a few programmes this week on Simon and Garfunkel, I find myself posting clips of four of my favourites of their songs.

Fiona and Dave and Rodney and Brenda

I dare say some of my readers (Phil, perhaps) remember a folk duo from back in the 1970s called Therapy, comprising Fiona Simpson and Dave Shannon. They appeared a few times in Durham while I was a student: indeed they recorded part of Bringing The House Down there. Their recordings never made it to CD (but I have the means to play vinyl) and I lost track of them after leaving college. There isn't much about them on the Internet, even, though I note from this that Dave Shannon recently appeared at my old stamping ground in Poynton.

They did some self-penned material, latterly mainly humorous (though they started out as a trio doing serious material of their own), and a lot of excellent cover versions (including the best version of Ian Tyson's Someday Soon I've ever heard).

I recently found a link online to a piece I hadn't heard before. I have just succeeded in acquiring the vinyl album from which it is taken, but here is the mp3 for your edification. Harmless fun, and a blast from the past.

Sad News Indeed

Scotland's seabirds are having a pretty bad year

Lest We Forget

I'm sure we shall be hearing much over the next week from both BareNakedIslam and its useful idiot Uncle Jimmy (BlairSupporter) about wicked Muslims who don't respect the sacrifices of British soldiers and who burn poppies or whatever attention-seeking gesture they come up with this year.

Meanwhile, BNI respects soldiers thus. This "bastard" spent years risking hos life for the country BNI despises so much. And she/it is perfectly happy to give comment space to those who call for his murder.

Still, he's a Muslim now, so of course killing him is fine by BNI and its useful idiot (Jhimmi).

Desecration of war graves is fine too, provided they are those of Muslims. Drawing swastikas on them comes "not a moment too soon".

(And for all the whining that "Islam isn't a race so we can't be racists", take a look at this illiterate comment. It explicitly describes Muslims as a "sub-proto-proto-primate species" who "indulge in necrophilia gerontophilia, paedophilia, bestiality and are cannibalistic sodomizing inbred mass-murders (sic)", who "are not able to interact with humans on any level". Not at all racist, then,. Of course, BNI will have had something to say in response to that? (*Crickets*)

Here it calls for a mosque to be burned down.

Here its response to the burning down of a mosque is "Well, they can't say they weren't warned".

When vandals damages a college building in Britain because they mistook it for a mosque, BNI's reaction: "It's the thought that counts".

How about murdering or wounding Sikhs because you're too stupid to tell them apart from Muslims? (eg here or here) Well, a commenter responding to a post in which BNI describes a picture clearly shown a mix of Christians, Muslims and Sikhs among others as being a group of Muslims, had this to say:

June 29, 2011 at 7:59 PM

I know most of you are prots so I wouldn’t expect you to know what an Orthodox clergyperson looks like but the gentleman on the far right is a Christian…he is Orthodox. And I see a Sikh or two in there as well (Hint: Sikhs and Hindus wear turbans, not Muzzies.
Just want you to get it straight so that if you all go on a rampage in England or wherever, you won’t do what some stupid fundies did in AZ and kill a Sikh.

to which BNI replied:

June 29, 2011 at 8:54 PM

bishop, what’s a prot? Big deal, one Sikh got killed by someone thinking it was a muslim. Next?

("It's the thought that counts." Yeah, BNI's site is ALL about Islam, not promoting hatred of brown-skinned people who dress funny. Sure it is.)

When a suicide bomber in Nigeria murders 18 UN workers, what is BNI's response?

"Well, it is the UN, so who really cares?"

When one in Mogadishu murders ten Somalis, we get "Look on the bright side, folks, that’s 10 fewer Somali Muslims".

Meanwhile, BNI's solution to famine in Somalia? Compulsory sterilisation.

And one of its regular commenters recommends using chemical weapons on the Somalis to achieve this.

"The only aid we Westerners should even consider giving to Somalian muslims is the aerial spraying of sterilization agents over Somali population centers by aircraft."

Call me a traditionalist, but when I remember the sacrifices of British soldiers, particularly in the Second World War, it is with pride that they died fighting to protect their country from people with the attitudes that BNI exemplifies and Uncle Jimmy admores so much.

BareNakedIslam, the fake Jewess

Regarding BareNakedIslam's Jewishness, incidentally, I think the best demonstration of how bogus it is comes, not from her many posts blaming the evils of the world on filthy liberal Jews but from her reactions to the comments under a recent post on "European children being forced to bow down to Islam...literally". Leaving aside that nobody was being forced to do anything of the kind (but hey, we're used to BNI's routine lies!), have a look at the comments under this post. While obviously BNI is not directly responsible for any but her/its own, all comments are moderated, and BNI is quick to criticise any that she/it feels fail to follow the house line. For example, this comment by R Reshi

October 23, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Koran doesn’t allow any forceble proces. Quran says just pass message of islam to other after that it is upto him either accept it or deny it.
One who forces any one to bow is criminal in the light of Quran and hadith

was met with

October 23, 2011 at 8:29 PM

Reshi, you are full of shit.

So what about this comment?

Adam Nyberg
October 24, 2011 at 5:37 AM

In Sweden we always went to Church during our last day of school celebrating our holiday (even though we’re all atheist we do it because of tradition) BUT the last few years the schools havent allowed the children to go to church because they say its discriminating the muslim immigrants who gang rape and rob our people. We even have to go visit a mosque (Didn’t have to pray) And we have to visit one of those Jewish churches (whatever you call them)

Why do we spend more time learning about foreign religions than our own?

BTW i hate all religion it’s all bullshit (except buddhism because buddha actully existed) but the worst religions is Islam and the Jews. They should be wiped out from this planet.

To this commenter, who added to his impeccably anti-Islamic tirade the modest proposal that all Jews should be wiped out from the planet, there is not a single critical response from BNI or anyone else. BNI weighs in against a Frenchman who points out that nobody is converting anyone, that this is called E-Du-Ca-Tion. She launches a racist tirade against a Puerto Rican who criticises her (gosh, it's almost as though Puerto Ricans weren't US citizens). But her response to a Nazi who calls for the extermination of every Jew on Earth? (*Crickets chirping*)

She's no more Jewish, and no more female, than I am.


She's certainly no Jew, but she appears to be a woman. Her name is Bonni Benstock-Intall, and she lives at 2 Bay Club Drive, Bayside, New York, NY 11360-2932 with her husband John. See here.

Fake genocides, fake women

It's always amusing to see a far-right loon getting slapped about but when it's being done by a bunch of other far-right loons it's irresistible. Here we have swivel-eyed Islamophobe Pamela Geller being called on her crazy lies by Little Green Footballs, no less!

Mind you, crazed accusations of fake genocide are surprisingly common. There's a good one I encountered in a comment at BareNakedIslam but which a little Googling shows to be much more widespread, to wit that restricting the use of DDT because of its manifold dangers to human and animal life is a genocide of forty million people and thus far worse that Hitler's amateurish effort with the Jews. No, really.

The same commenter, incidentally, had this to say about votes for women:

"And while this may offend you, BNI, more women do tend to be Liberal: which is a perfect reason to refuse them all the right to vote. Heck, I told this last to my mother, and she agreed!"

BNI's response (bear in mind that BNI purports to be a woman):

"CB, not only does that not offend me, I agree with your mother. If women didn’t vote we wouldn’t have all the flaming liberals in office and all the entitlement whores who vote for them."

And this "woman" has the chutzpah (oh, yeah, she pretends to be Jewish too despite all her antisemitic posts) to criticise Islamic attitudes to women?

Funding terrorists and witchfinders: Israel make excellent use of all that American aid

Israel's intelligence agency, Shin Bet, suggests (so far to no avail) that the Israeli government should withdraw state funding for terrorist training camps. As if. Don't they realise that's what Zionism is all about? No wonder the USA put Israel on a list of countries sponsoring terrorism, even if pressure from American Zionists persuaded the Americans to back down (surprise!)

Of course, nobody would argue that a state whose constitution prioritises one religious group over all others, which funds domestic and international terrorism and which locks up political dissidents and prevents their emigration even on expiry of their sentences: nobody could claim that such a state was a theocratic dictatorship. But perhaps if such a state were to use its state legal system to declare a woman guilty of witchcraft, that might make people think?

Yeah, right. As though that would get any coverage in the "anti-Semitic" Western press.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Uncle Jimmy on torture, abuse and extrajudicial killings

From EKN's favourite racist, Uncle Jimmy (aka BlairSupporter):

"As you will know I am a strong supporter of humanitarian interventionism. But only if it is controlled by those who do NOT kill or sodomize the enemy. Or at least by those who put to legal due process those who do either."

Funny, I didn't hear him demanding legal action against President Obama for the extrajudicial murders of Osama bin Laden of Anwar al-Awlaki. Even though he believes Pres. Obama to be a Muslim. Must be because they were simply murders with no "humanitarian" whitewash. And he was fully supportive of Israel's extrajudicial murder of the Mavi Marmara crew members.

Of course, Jimmy's real problem is not that Gaddafi is dead, even though Tony Blair supposedly "brought him in from the international cold" which must mean that his countless murders and depradations against his people are at least partially forgiven. It's that he doesn't care for the folk who killed him. Let's be clear: he's perfectly happy to see prisoners tortured provided it's being done by people of whom he approves. For example, in his response to Peter Oborne's criticism of Blair et al over the illegal rendition and torture of Binyam Mohamed:

It’s not up to us or rather YOU to prove that Tony Blair knew there was some sort of complicity, even if it wasn’t our security people administering any so-called “torture”.....
Some of us take a very different view of ‘just desserts’ and ‘torture’, by the way, Oborne. And some of us think it’s about time the Human Rights Act applied to human behaviour only.

See also here.

And before Jimmy leaps in to tell us that he's in favour of mere torture (sorry, ' so-called "torture" ') by being strung up from the ceiling, beaten, shackled and deprived of sleep, but that being sodomized is a different matter, I don't remember (nor can Google jog my memory) Jimmy's ever saying a word in condemnation of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib which included forcing prisoners to perform sexual acts of various kinds. And of course rape of prisoners (male and female) by guards and interrogators is far from uncommon in Israeli prisons (see also here, here, and here.

So actually Jimmy is a strong supporter of humanitarian intervention by those who do kill and sodomize their opponents, provided the killers and sodomisers are British, American or Israeli. Arabs on the other hand are held to a wholly different standard.

The a few days later we find this post, still banging on about Gaddafi. But this time I'm pretty much wholly in agreement with his sentiments, which is more than can be said for Jimmy himself, as he contradicts them all over the place on his blog. We've just seen how killing Gaddafi = bad, but killing Saddam = good. Killing al-Awlaki and bin Laden, and the many extrajudicial killings carried out by Israeli forces: also good.

Now I totally agree with Amnesty's take on the Gaddafi murder, and with Jimmy's comment that

PLEASE – we cannot “do” human rights selectively. As with defending the rights of all to freedom of speech we MUST defend the rights of all humans to humane treatment.
If human rights are to mean anything at all they must apply to all people. No exceptions. Otherwise Amnesty UK might as well pack up and forget it.

The trouble is, Jimmy doesn't believe that at all. Or at least he didn't on 26 May 2008 when he wrote:

The remedy – either alter and adjust our responsibilities under the Human Rights Act or quite simply remove it from this country’s statutes. Human rights only apply to those who behave like human beings. Bombers, terrorists, instigators or trainers of terror are less than human, and should be automatically exempted.

In fact, Jimmy would be ecstatic if Amnesty were to "pack up and forget it". For him they're "the enemy within":

There is a deeply sinister enemy within, who don’t mean to be our enemy. They don’t even know they are the enemy. They actually believe that some of us are the enemy; the people who raise the issues. They would be just as horror stricken as the rest of us if they realised their stance of unblemished liberal tolerance and purity is bringing an Islamist state to a country near you some time in the (near) future. An Islamist state based, in Britain’s case, in Downing Street. They are so busy fighting yesterday’s battles over Iraq, political “lies”, conspiracies, exaggerated fear of fear, ulterior motives and World Orders. Meanwhile, unnoticed, a new World Order builds itself around them. Around them and US.

If it were only around them, I’d let them stew in it.

They are made up of, and this is not a charge I make lightly, human rights activists including such august bodies as Amnesty International, whose good works are legend all around the world. And of course the little civil righters who proliferate at The Guardian and other such anti-authority, anti-government hang-outs.

I take exception – NO, GREAT PERSONAL EXCEPTION to Amnesty International using inverted commas around the words “war on terror” in ANY of its publications. There is a war on terror, whether people with too much time on their hands understand it or not. For that kind of disparagement of the leaders of the west, if I had been a paying supporter of Amnesty, I’d stop it right now.

Or responding to commenters criticising his support for the illegal detention and torture of Binyam Mohamed:

Not that I expect impartiality and fairness from someone affiliated with Amnesty International, of course. How much of your time do you waste attacking democracies, and how little time do you spend going after dictatorships that violate human rights on a far more massive and blatant scale than democracies could ever imagine?


Unless to ‘Liberty’ and Amnesty; IRA violence is perfectly fine by them. And let’s face it, they probably do think that in any case.

The man is a thoroughly disgusting -and thoroughly racist - hypocrite. Thank God he's not British.

Chairlie the First, he got beheided, Chairlie the Second, he succeeded, Chairlie the Third, he'll no' be needed....

Words absolutely fail me. Though "unelected" "arrogant" "twunt" and "Cromwell" might do the trick.

ABRIDGE, v.t. To shorten.

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to abridge their king, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Oliver Cromwell (at least, acc. to Ambrose Bierce!)

If ever there was a knock-down argument for Scottish independence, Bonkers Prince Charlie's behaviour is it.

And I see Chas claims (no doubt correctly) to be related to Vlad Dracul, famed for impalementss (and latterly for inspiring the Dracula mythos). Vlad's ancestral home is Bran Castle: does that make Charlie a Bran Flake? It would explain why he's such a pain in the ass. And it might be an alternative to abridgement: the stuck-up little fool could be, er, stuck-up.

Time to purge the dead wood

This is excellent news: Palestine has been admitted to membership of UNESCO.

This, not so much. Though the USA has tried a similar trick before and Unesco survived. Personally I think Unesco should expel the USA immediately and begin delisting its World Heritage Sites, starting with the Statue of Liberty.

And now Israel has tried the same trick, as thoughanyone would notice its contribution to Unesco (in any sense). Education: training terrorists and promoting a myth of racial supremacy. Science: manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. Culture: desecrating and destroying archaeological sites. This last habit got Israel expelled from Unesco once before, but it was readmitted because the USA threatened to withhold its Unesco funding. This time the USA has already shot its bolt there, so I can see no possible reason to tolerate Israel's unwelcome presence in Unesco for a single day longer.

Any resemblance is purely intentional

I play in an orchestra called the Edinburgh Light Orchestra, which does what it say on the tin: plays light orchestral music (show tunes, Eric Coates, Robert Farnon, Henry Mancini, etc).

We're currently rehearsing for a concert on Saturday, and one of the pieces we're doing is Glenn Miller's In the Mood. Every time we play it I am reminded of the old Ray Stevens version which I heard as a student back in the 1970s. here it is with a rather good video:

We're also doing some songs, one of which is Jerome Kern's Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man Of Mine. And that too reminds me of a parody:

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

His name is an anagram of KOOK DO CASH TRIPE. How fitting.

Further to my piece on the Barnabas Fund's anti-Islamic campaigning, there was a good recent article in the Guardian on the pernicious influence of religious fundamentalists like Sookhdeo and racist ideologues like Robert Spencer on UK government and police anti-Muslim policies as well as anti-Muslim bias in the media.

Well, like the proverbial bad penny, Sookhdeo popped up yesterday with a response published in the Republican Examiner and elsewhere. In it, he helpfully links to this even better analysis in the Guardian of the hate-filled demagoguery that he and his clones pump out, and their response to criticism of it. Unsurprisingly, his present response is an ad hominem attack on Mehdi Hasan, avoiding discussion of issues at all costs. On Youtube, Mehdi Hasan "appears to refer to non-Muslims and atheists in very derogatory terms". But in case anyone shioukld follow the links and actually watch the videos, Sookhdeo covers his ass: "Admittedly, the context of these comments is unclear".

Sookhdeo accuses the Guardian of being "little concerned with human rights and freedom of conscience when it comes to Christians far away in non-Western contexts", citing as an example the death sentence for apostasy dished out by the Iranian authorities to Youcef Nadarkhani. Maybe it's just me, but I felt that argument was weakened just a tad when five seconds on Google not only showed that the Guardian had published a piece back in September strongly condemning Nadarkhani's sentence, but that the piece in question was written by Mehdi Hasan. Reading Hasan's article confirmed what I already understood, which is that Sookhdeo is telling outright lies regarding the treatment of apostasy in Islam. He tells us: "...all schools of Islamic law prescribe the death penalty for an adult male Muslim who chooses to leave his faith". Really? In Hasan's article we see:

There is a misguided assumption among many Muslims that such an abhorrent punishment is divinely mandated. It isn't. Classical Muslim jurists wrongly conflated apostasy with treason. The historical fact is that the prophet Muhammad never had anyone executed for apostasy alone. In one well-documented case, when a Bedouin man disowned his decision to convert to Islam and left the city of Medina, the prophet took no action against him, remarking only that, "Medina is like a pair of bellows: it expels its impurities and brightens and clears its good".

Nor does the Qur'an say that a Muslim who apostasises be given any penalty. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by Islam's holy book in the famous verse: "Let there be no compulsion in religion" (2:256). Apostasy is deemed a sin, but the Qur'an repeatedly refers to punishment in the next world, not this one. Take the 137th verse of chapter 4: "Those who believe then disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in disbelief, God will never forgive them nor guide them to the Way" (4:137). This verse, which explicitly allows for disbelief, followed by belief, followed once again by disbelief, suggests any punishment is for God to deliver – not judges in Iran, Saudi Arabia or anywhere else.

Interestingly, the judgment in the Nadarkhani case is based not on Qur'anic verses but the fatwas of various ayatollahs. Fatwas, however, differ. For example, the late Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, a grand ayatollah and one-time heir apparent to Ayatollah Khomeini, argued that the death penalty for apostasy was originally prescribed to punish only political conspiracies against the nascent Islamic community; Montazeri believed Muslims today should be free to convert to another religion.


Another late Iranian ayatollah, and high-profile ally of Khomeini, Murtaza Muttahari, once wrote of the sheer pointlessness of any and all measures to compel belief upon a Muslim (or ex-Muslim!), arguing that it was impossible to force anyone to hold the level of rationally inspired faith required by the religion of Islam. "It is not possible to spank a child into solving an arithmetical problem," proclaimed Muttahari. "His mind and thought must be left free in order that he may solve it. The Islamic faith is something of this kind."

So Sookhdeo has taken the decisions of some Ayatollahs and tried to spin them as the view of "all schools of Islamic law". While it is understandable that a Christian ex-Muslim might wish to dramatise his own situation (Sookhdeo contra mundum is so much more exciting than Sookhdeo versus a few crazy Iranians, is it not?), especially when he makes his living from persuading the gullible that non-Muslims are in deadly danger from Muslims, it's hardly intellectually honest. Lying about the Guardian's attitude to such persecution for no other reason than that it published an article critical of him: does this show Sookhdeo's "unshakable commitment to liberal Western values"?

A heavily-edited version of Sookhdeo's response appears in the Guardian itself. I assume its editors saw no reason to permit Sookhdeo to use its own pages either to tell lies about its human rights reportage or to traduce its staff.


Given Sookhdeo's dishonest take on the threats to ex-Muslims, I wondered if his path had crossed that of international man of mystery Sam Solomon. Remember that Solomn, whose origins remain shrouded in secrecy, tells us that he spent fifteen years as an Islamic jurist before converting to Christianity and being place under sentence of death: all of which assertions are completely without supporting evidence as Solomon refuses to relate even which country he was broght up in, far less where he practised Islamic law or where he was condemned to death. Google threw up a number of references to the pair together, mostly in the shape of enthusisatic reviews of each other;s work. There was also this interesting comment, though, under an Islamophobic post on an Islamophobic site:

March 9, 2009 at 9:20 am

Last July, a discreet meeting was held by a group of influential Anglican evangelicals to co-ordinate a new church approach towards Islam. The meeting was convened by Bryan Knell, head of the missionary organisation Global Connections, and others from a group calling itself Christian Responses to Islam in Britain. The 22 participants, who met at All Nations Christian College in Ware, Hertfordshire, were sworn to secrecy…The meeting had in its sights those ‘aggressive’ Christians who were ‘increasing the level of fear’ in many others by talking about the threat posed by radical Islam.

The aim was thus to discredit and stifle those Christians who warn against the Islamisation of Britain and Islam’s threat to the church. Those who do so include the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, the Africa specialist Baroness Cox, the Islam expert Dr Patrick Sookhdeo and the Maranatha Ministry…

I blogged this here. The story has doing the rounds for a couple of weeks, and it has been promoted because a journalist named Ben White gave Sookhdeo a bad review of his new book, Global Jihad, on the evangelical website Fulcrum. After the review was published, Sookhdeo was then “discredited and stifled” by being given right of reply on the same website. Two supporters of Sookhdeo wrote an essay which was duly published, but they also produced a second version containing extra sections of astonishingly crude attacks on White. Andrew Brown at the Guardian drew attention to the inflammatory version of the counter-review – but Phillips points out that Brown seems “to be driven by hostility to anyone who supported Israel”, so apparently we don’t need to go into that little embarrassment any further. Another, anonymous, article suggested that the bad review was part of a plot hatched at the Global Connections meeting to which Phillips refers, and this piece was distributed by email by Sookhdeo’s Barnabas Fund.

Phillips continues:
White then drew his review to the attention of a blogger, Islamist and Muslim convert called Indigo Jo. On his website, Indigo Jo anathematised Sookhdeo as the ‘Sookhdevil’. This attack was reproduced on various other Islamist websites and Sookhdeo has received a death threat as a result.

The tale is growing: “Indigo Jo” was rather rude about Sookhdeo, and Sookhdeo’s supporters did indeed try to puff this up into some kind of threat, telling us that:
The criticism of Patrick Sookhdeo which appeared on Indigo Jo’s website – and the epithet he coined “Sookhdevil” – have now appeared on a number of other Muslim websites, some of which appear to be radical. One of them calls for Muslims to go and fight in Gaza.

However, there was no death threat mentioned then, and if there has been one since, how come only Phillips has heard about it? And besides, as I pointed out before, Sookhdeo’s hostile views about Islam have been public knowledge for years – Global Jihad is unlikely to add to any extremist threat he may be under. Compared to White’s temperate review, the whine about White putting Sookhdeo at risk was an unworthy and intelligence-insulting attempt to, erm…”discredit and stifle” a critic.
Meanwhile, Sookhdeo has issued a new statement, co-authored with Sam Solomon and a certain Dennis Wrigley:

A number of accusations have been circulating in the media about Sam Soloman, Patrick Sookhdeo and the Maranatha Community, the movement which Dennis Wrigley heads. Some of the accusations apparently have arisen in regard to discussions held at a closed meeting convened last July, which, among other issues, discussed a perceived growth of fear of Islam and Muslims felt among Christians in the UK. Some attributed this fear to aggressive teaching by Christians concerning negative aspects of Islam and advocated promoting an alternative approach.

What does this mean? The only “accusations” that “have been circulating in the media” concerning this affair were the shrill attacks promoted by Sookhdeo’s supporters against White and Global Connections. The statement continues:

The majority of those who attended the meeting advocated maintaining a variety of approaches, which included ones that are openly critical of Islam. We would like to state clearly that we recognize that any individuals that were advocating limiting criticism of Islam were speaking their own opinions and were not following any official policy of CRIB (Christian Responses to Islam in Britain) or of Global Connections.

Whoops! So while Phillips has treated her Spectator readers to news of a conspiracy against Christians who speak out against Islamism, Sookhdeo appears to have backed down from the allegation – albeit it in a rather grudging and indirect way. But the authors soon return to form with a few more shock revelations:

We are living in a context of increasing hostility towards Christians both from secular society and from Islam. A key evangelist was threatened in public by a Muslim with a gun a week ago. A Christian leader who speaks out on Islam in Britain has received death threats. Another who writes widely on Islam had his offices burgled, apparently by Muslim extremists.

These are serious matters, and it’s frustrating that no specific details are provided.

I should add if the July meeting did indeed feature criticisms of Sookhdeo and Solomon that would in fact be quite reasonable. I blogged here about the disgraceful way that Sookhdeo misrepresented a Muslim book he’s been using as evidence of a Islamic conspiracy; Solomon provides alarmist briefings for the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship worthy of Walid Shoebat.


The comment had no working links but I found the Melanie Phillips piece it refers to here. Usual same-old-same-old the-moooslims-are-coming-and-only-Israel-is-fighting-them MP drivel.

And here are some responses to it.

I haven't read the Stephen Sizer piece that so excites many of the commenters but would point out that offering the opinion that "repatriation of Palestinians to their own territory will be effective in retaking their own country, because, when the Palestinian refugees come to their home, they will form majority of the population and would form a multi-ethnic state including Jews, Muslims and Christians" in no way whatsover "threatens the integrity of Israel as a sovereign state". It threatens its integrity as a theocracy grounded on a theory of racial supremacy, which is not at all the same thing.

Another great example of Uncle Jimmy's barefaced lying. The man has no shame whatsoever

I was looking through the archive and found this gem of a quote from Uncle Jimmy buried in one of his interminable pieces on how the BBC is full of wicked pro-Muslim, pro-Communist, anti-Christian, anti-semitic, anti-Blair, anti-British, anti-white, anti-fascist nonsense (translation: they don't invite him onto their programmes to spread hate speech).

KB: Zahed Amanullah said it’s an example of another significant development over the last decade - the ease with which extremists on all sides can now make their voices heard.

(WHAT? extremists on ALL sides? And now they really have some fun, shifting goalposts and blaming the internet for this extremism on “ALL sides”. How many websites do you find suggesting Christianity or Judaism should take over the world? That Muslims must convert or die? How many times do you see Christian or Jewish sites saying such as “kill the Muslim infidels”? How many indiscriminate suicide bombings of Muslims by non-Muslims have you been encouraged to take part in recently, via web invite?)

Well, Jimmy, ever since you were kind enough to link (several times) to BareNakedIslam it's trivially easy for your readers to find one site ticking every single box there (except that the indiscriminate bombing of Muslims it encourages is not of the suicidal kind).

And Jimmy posted three links to that BNI white supremacist site in the month before writing the incredible remark above, the last of them a mere five days before.

And Jimmy tells us in that same post that the BBC are in denial because they refer to the suicide bomb attack on Coptic Christians as the worst for over a decade. For Jimmy, this is rubbish, it's only the worst in just over a year but the BBC have chosen to forget the 2009 attack.

Two points of bias and/or strange representation/misrepresentation of the facts, just in these two opening sentences.

One, it wasn’t the deadliest for “many years”. It was the deadliest since Christmas LAST year. In more accurate words – the deadliest in twelve months. (And last Christmas’s attack had been the deadliest in a decade.)

Er, wrong again, Jimmy. The BBC are well aware of the earlier attack, but one killing 21 people is by most people's standards worse than one killing only six. Hell's teeth, Yolande Knell poins that out in a BBC report Jimmy quotes in his post:

Just one year ago there was this attack on Christians that was then the worst in a decade, That was in Nagaa Hammadi to the north of Luxor in southern Egypt, and six Christians were killed and one Muslim security guard when there was a drive-by shooting after worshippers came out of church from mass on Christmas Eve.

Don't take the BBC's word for it though. Here are some more of our biased communist media: the Independent and the Guardian.

Honestly, to laugh at Jimmy sometimes feels like mocking the mentally handicapped. The man isn't in need of therapy, he needs a a full-time carer.

Focus and Arthur Brown: The Caves, Edinburgh, Friday 29 October 2011

Admit it: you probably thought Arthur Brown was dead, right? Well, he's very much alive, though 69 years old now. Still with the amazing face paint which inspired Alice Cooper and Kiss, but no longer setting his head alight to perform "Fire". He has a young band: Lucie Rejchrtova on keyboards was outstanding, also Sam Walker on drums. The guitarist (who seems to be new to judge from the internet) was female, unusually: Nina Gromniak. Tall, dark and clad in tight shorts (Lucie OTOH was in skin-tight wet-look trousers - when she walked out through the audience at the interval a guy behind me reckoned he'd died and gone to heaven....) she was a great accompanist and took some good solos: self-effacing, I'd say, not a bad trait in a band member. The bass player should have been Jim Mortimore to judge from the web site, but the bassist in my photos looks nothing like him. There was also Angel Fallon who supplied dance. As well as being a very tight band, they really got into the spirit of The Crazy World of A.B.. At one point during "I Put A Spell On You" Arthur lifted Lucie's keyboard off its stand and backed away with it, Lucie following him and continuing to play.

I didn't recognise everything they did: after all, I last encountered them when "Fire" was number one 43 years ago. I recognised "I Put A Spell On You", given a very wild interpretation by the whole band; the finale "Fire", with the real flames of yore replaced now by Angel Fallon's fantastical costume with flame-like swirling wings; and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" which was their encore. Also noteworthy was the lyrical "Angels In My Mind": one doesn't associate arthur with love songs, but there you are.

After the interval came another survivor propped up by a new band. This time it was Thijs van Leer, remnant of the original Focus line-up and just the same forty-odd years on, only fatter (aren't we all...) and wearing a Canadian-style winter hat with ear-flaps. they opened up with "House of the King", during which Pierre van der Linden hit his drum so hard that he actually broke a snare drum head and had to borrow Sam Walker's snare for the rest of the set. Van der Linden was easily the best of the band, better even than van Leer: rock-solid, giving his kit serious grief, producing some of the most amazing fills I've ever heard, and all with an air of world-weary resignation but no sign of tiredness. He turns out to be another survivor from the famous 1970s Focus line-up (and he was famous for his fills then). Menno Gootjes had Jan Akkerman's large footsteps to fill, and he did an excellent job. When the band did "Sylvia" it was Thijs who did the opening chords (on his splendid Hammond organ) rather than the guitar, but while no slavish copier, Menno produced a performance of the main theme fully up to the Akkerman standard. (I noticed members of the crazy World of Arthur Brown taking pictures and videos from the wings during "Sylvia": clearly hearing it every night doesn't spoil the magic.) Bass was Bobby Jacobs, also outstanding: I guess to get into Focus you have to be pretty special. We had the yodelling, the flute playing (sometimes at the same time as the Hammond organ). Nice to see a real Hammond again: last one I saw was either Georgie Fame or Gary Brooker (they were both in Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings and one of them had a Hammond).

Didn't know all the numbers on the night but Focus definitely did:

The House Of The King
Ay-Yay-Hippy-Yippee-Yay (with TvL honking a motor horn)
Sylvia's Stepson
Harum Scarum
Hocus Pocus

And they risked a slapped risk for breaching the promoter's 2230 curfew to do an encore.