Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
June 22, 2003

Trial show or show trial? Channel 4 yesterday screened an hour-long programme which aimed to try Tony Blair for misleading the British nation in his endeavour to gain support for war against Iraq.

Such programmes irritate me greatly. Especially when presented by the clueless Jon Snow. He couldn't tell whether he was presenting Newsnight, a real trial or an entertainment show. The "trial" raised the promise of a proper debate on the issue. Instead, the format and time constraint delivered only annoyance. Snow's eyes were on the clock... "you have 45 seconds to summarise your case". This forced the debate to the lowest common denominator of yah boo skirmishes between the participants. Snow forced the pace through questions, answers and advertising breaks.

So the audience, both in the studio and at home, were left none the wiser. Witnesses were easily able to evade the questions posed, as their filibustering paid off within the minute. Were any minds changed?

In terms of the substance, the case for the prosecution was that Tony Blair had engaged in "honourable deception"*. Convinced of the need for regime change and the existence of weaopns of mass destruction, but unable to provide evidence that would convince the British people or the United Nations, Blair and his cronies "sexed up" the evidence. This prosecution evidence has credence given the apology from Alistair Campbell to the Intelligence Services and the statement by Ibrahim al-Marashi, author of the now infamous thesis "Iraq's Security & Intelligence Network: A Guide & Analysis", that key words in his plagiarised work had been altered to make the Iraqi threat seem more imminent. Even the defence didn't seek to justify the key "45 minutes" claim.

The case for the defence was that it was necessary to remove Saddam, whatever the provable state of the evidence. The deaths of thousands in the war were sensible sacrifice in return for removal of a tyrranical regime that had slaughtered hundreds of thousands. The evidence for weapons of mass destruction was conclusive, not circumstantial. Saddam had already used gas on the Kurds, and many tons of biological and chemical materials are unaccounted for. The ends justified the means.

For me the end cannot justify the means, as the means employed negate the foundation of our so-called representative democracy, and leave us with the "might is right" ravings of an unelected fool in America and his deluded British sidekick.

It's clear to me that Blair did believe in what he was doing, but felt that he had to lie to Parliament and people to achieve his goal. That is the most grievous charge that can be laid against a British Prime Minister. A man of honour would realise this error, apologise and step down.

If you are reading this and thinking "he's off again", I accept that my conclusions may be wrong. To convince me, please show me the evidence that Saddam was such a "present danger" that UN weapons inspectors had to be withdrawn and the UN process abandoned in favour of a war opposed by many nations and even the majority of British citizens. Please, just show me the evidence.

* "I believe that the Prime Minister must have concluded that it was honourable and desirable to back the US in going for military action in Iraq and therefore it was honourable for him to persuade us through various ruses and ways to get us there - so for him I think it was an honourable deception".

Normal decision-making processes “collapsed” without a single meeting of the Cabinet’s defence and overseas committee, the former International Development Secretary Clare Short told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 17th June.

Posted by nathan at 07:26 AM | Comments (0)


June 13, 2003
Shuffling the deck

Tony Blair's really lost his grip now.

He now seems lonely and isolated.

So where are we?

A Department for Consitutional Affairs. Changing the judicial system without consultation, without a manifesto commitment and without sorting out the deliberate mess they've made of the Lords.

Abolition of the post of Lord Chancellor, whilst putting his friend Charlie Falconer (a pleasant man by reputation), unelected and unrepresentative in a tempoarry position before a Supreme Court is devised (probably to be stuffed with political appointees).

The Scottish and Welsh Offices are combined within the DCA and thus have no cabinet minister to represent them in the Commons (or will Charlie do a Tony? I doubt it). So Peter Hain speaks on Welsh affairs as well as being Leader of the Commons and Alistair Darling will speak for Scottish affairs as well as Transport.

There is a further illustration of the mess of devolution, and brilliant example of the West Lothian question. John Reid, member for Lothian in Scotland, a region that has turned its back on foundation hospitals, is responsible for implementing the policy in England. But English voters cannot get rid of him. Another West Lothian link.

The back benches are filling up with the bitter, the failed and the disillusioned.

For all your idealism and fast talking, Tony Blair, your days are numbered. Nobody stays forever as Prime Minister - you should quit while you still have some credit.

Posted by nathan at 06:27 AM | Comments (0)


June 12, 2003
The Blair: Which Project?

It used to be called "the Project". Now it's just a mess.

Posted by nathan at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)


June 07, 2003
Rogue elements in the British Government

The "revelations" about American and British cynicism over weapons of mass destruction continue

On the mobile units alledged to have been used for biological weapons, the New York Times reports that no trace of germs has been found. Analysts have said the mobile units were more likely intended for other purposes and charged that the evaluation process had been damaged by a rush to judgment.

The Washington Post reports:

"Bush Certainty On Iraq Arms Went Beyond Analysts' Views

During the weeks last fall before critical votes in Congress and the United Nations on going to war in Iraq, senior administration officials, including President Bush, expressed certainty in public that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, even though U.S. intelligence agencies were reporting they had no direct evidence that such weapons existed.

In an example of the tenor of the administration's statements at the time, the president said in the Rose Garden on Sept. 26 that "the Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime is building the facilities necessary to make more biological and chemical weapons."

But a Defense Intelligence Agency report on chemical weapons, widely distributed to administration policymakers around the time of the president's speech, stated there was "no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing or stockpiling chemical weapons or whether Iraq has or will establish its chemical agent production facilities."

The disparities between the conviction with which administration officials portrayed the threat posed by Iraq in their public statements and documents, and the more qualified reporting on the issue by intelligence agencies in classified reports, are at the heart of a burgeoning controversy in Congress and within the intelligence community over the U.S. rationale for going to war. The failure of the United States to uncover any proscribed weapons eight weeks after the end of the war is fueling sentiment among some Democrats on Capitol Hill and some intelligence analysts that the administration may have exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq".

This situation could not be more serious. We were told to believe the judgement of the leaders of our so-called representative democracies (sorry, that doesn't apply to our US friends, who get the president with the money, not the votes). They told us that the war was based upon intelligence proving that WMD could be deployed in 45 minutes. This evidence is at best debatable, at worst fraudulent, and Blair and his cronies have resorted to evasion and undermining of the intelligence services, with John Reid (pah pah pah) claiming that rogue elements had briefed against the government.

Answers to Nothing. It's all convincing me to take a pacifist line, whatever the consequences.

Posted by nathan at 07:39 AM | Comments (0)


May 28, 2003
Where's My Danger?

The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has acknowledged for the first time that Iraq may have destroyed its weapons of mass destruction before the US launched its offensive to topple Saddam Hussein's regime.

See here


But we knew that.

Resign, Blair. You led your nation into war, knowing that you had lied to Parliament.

Posted by nathan at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)


April 24, 2003
An unexpected extra day in New York

From this morning's New York Times:

Detainees from the Afghan war remain in a legal limbo in Cuba.

US Naval Air Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - Fifteen months after the first hooded and shackled detainees arrived at a primitive tent facility known as Camp X-Ray, some 664 prisoners seized after the Afghan war remain here in a legal, political and geographical limbo... Sir Adam Roberts, an Oxford University professor who is a leading authority on the law of war, said that the United States might not be obliged to treat them as prisoners of war but that officials should recognise that they had some international legal rights - "the US has paid a high price in international opinion. In Britain, people see Guantanamo Bay as a symbol of American defiance of international norms". Forty nations are represented in the camp, the majority being Saudis, Yemenis and Pakistanis. But Canadians, Britons, Algerians and a Swede are also detained.

In the same issue, I read of American plans to punish France for its opposition to the war, prosecutors trying to limit defendants' powers to cross-examine witnesses in terrorist trials, allegations that DARPA research funding was withdrawn from a University of Pennsylvania project after anti-war comments by a computer scientist and a remarkable admission by the FBI that they had seized unclassified documents in a FedEx parcel sent by Associated Press. "The FBI does not have the right to seize material without a warrant, without even notifying anyone, and just making it vanish. That, in our minds, is completely illegal" said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press. The FBI has opened an internal enquiry. I wonder what that will find?

I look out of my hotel window onto a cold, blustery but dry New York. The basketball lot is empty (it's 6:30 am) and the cars and trucks rumble, clatter and hoot their way across the triangular intersection of West Broadway, Canal Street and the Avenue of the Americas on their way to or from the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey. Lights change from red to green without pausing at amber. Signs flash with a red hand or white man. Through a sightline along Laight Street, a boat chugs along the Hudson River. SoHo awakens.

Posted by nathan at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)


April 23, 2003
A handful of dust

The mystery of the horde outside the bank was explained in today's New York Times. The manager of the Abacus Federal Savings Bank was dismissed, suspected of embezzling over $1m. The depositors, mostly Chinese, read of this in a local newspaper and descended on the Mott Street branch in a scene reminiscent of newsreels from the Great Depression, a mob, fearful of the bank's collapse, demanding to withdraw their savings.

We travelled by subway the dozen blocks or so to the site of the World Trade Center. A place of sombre reminiscence, made more poignant by my memory of being at the top of one of the towers in early November 2000. On that day, we saw the shadows cast by the twin towers across the tickertape parade as it passed below, celebrating the victory of the Yankees in the World Series. The skyscrapers seemed so bold, so purposeful, so American.

World Trade Centre site

And here was a twenty acre lot, with workers busily excavating the new subway lines to replace those destroyed. Tourists took photographs - some respectful, some tasteless - as they read the placards and graffiti on the fence erected around the site. Hawkers pestered us with offers of rubble and dust.

World Trade Center site

An inscription on one of the placards exhorted America not to succumb to the hatred that led the terrorists to perpetrate such an evil act. But how their government has failed in that purpose! Thrashing about, trying to apportion blame and retribution, they have positioned America as the world's greatest rogue state, massacring civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, still detaining over six hundred prisoners without trial or legal rights in Guantanamo Bay and bullying its own citizens and other nations through progressive reductions in civil liberties and the policy of "if you're not with us, you're against us". All in the name of the freedom, justice and "inalienable rights" that were the cornerstone of this nation's bid for greatness.

Whilst we were at the WTC site, I received a call from the office saying that tomorrow's Concorde flight has been cancelled "for technical reasons". Hmm, sounds like loading to me. They offered us a downgrade to First Class, but after checking with colleagues about Friday's meeting in London; we decided to stick with the dream of flying back to the UK by Concorde and rebooked our tickets for Friday. A surprise extra day in Manhattan!

After that excitement, we met with Sara at her apartment in Christopher Street, in the heart of the village. Sara was glowing, a changed person from her life in Bushey. A year at film school in New York has given her a new self-confidence and a radiance that glows through her skin. Her next step will be difficult, as finding a job in television must be ever so hard. But with her new-found independence, I'm certain she'll make it. We ate and chatted for several hours before realising that we had to move on.

Sara glows when she talks about cars, movies and a certain cameraman

We squeezed in a little shopping on the way back to the hotel. No luck finding presents at Dean & Deluca on Broadway. Then back uptown for supper with Sylvie and Sondheim's Gypsy with Arwin, Sylvie and John (her pleasant work colleague).


Gypsy was an excellent show, with a strong ensemble cast and an outstanding lead. Unlike many of Sondheim's musicals, I wasn't familiar with the story or the music, so I came to the performance with an open mind. The story of Gypsy Rose Lee was well told and the strobed transformation sequence from child to adult actors was most effective. Our evening out concluded with frozen cocktails in TGIF at Times Square.

Alfred and Arwin at TGIF

Alfred sucks

Repeat after me. 'I am not photogenic, but must smile for Alfred'.

Posted by nathan at 01:53 AM | Comments (1)


April 12, 2003
Pipes of peace or pipe dream?

(This adapted from a comments posting from an earlier blog entry. Thanks charlie b. for the provocation. I might return to this entry and tune it when I'm less tired).

The Iraq situation provokes strong views, both pro and anti-war.

The anti-war camp are branded as "commies", "liberals with an anti-American agenda", "friends of Saddam" and "appeasers". There are indeed many who oppose "globalisation" (for which read that they are envious and fearful of America's economic and cultural domination of the West).

Let me be clear about my own feelings. I am anti-war, but I'm also pro-American, pro-Israeli (but vehemently against the current Israeli government and its policies on Palestine, settlements etc) and anti-Saddam. If you read through my blog you'll find a series of postings, not always eloquent, because I'm finding it hard to find my expression as a puzzled pacifist. I can't see that the answer to our problems is killing. Call me oversensitive, but I have repeated nightmares about the Iraqi, American and British dead (innocent or not). I cling to the patently ridiculous hope that human beings should have evolved beyond war. And yet there are "evil" people in the world.

So I agree with the end (regime change) but not with the means. And, I admit, my own solutions are probably ineffective. But that doesn't make me a friend of Saddam, or a supporter of the disgusting manoeverings of the French and the hopeless antics of the UN.

Posted by nathan at 10:01 PM | Comments (1)


April 09, 2003
Celebrations in Baghdad - victory for death

Iraq seems to have fallen to the coalition forces. Saddam Hussein is nowhere to be found and his statue in the centre of Baghdad has been toppled.

new world order

One of the main arguments advanced against my view of this intervention is that more lives will be saved through regime change than have been expended in the war.

I don't doubt that.

But war wasn't the only option.

I'm happy to stand alone and argue against the killing of other human beings.

Call that a fight?

Saddam statue toppled in central Baghdad square

US marines sent a towering bronze statue of Saddam Hussein crashing to the ground amid loud cheers on a central Baghdad square on Wednesday.

After fruitless efforts by Iraqis, it took the marines and a tank recovery vehicle with a crane to secure a chain around the statue's neck to pull it over.

Dozens of Iraqis jumped on the figure shouting with joy.

The statue was demolished after US tanks rumbled on to al-Fardus (Paradise) square in the late afternoon and dozens of people quickly gathered to watch and warmly welcome the troops.

The crowd soon set about trying to destroy the monument in a symbolic gesture marking the collapse of Saddam's Baath Party regime.

Initially, the marines covered the statue's head with an American flag, but then took that flag down and replaced it with an Iraqi flag around its neck.

Posted by nathan at 07:58 PM | Comments (0)


April 06, 2003
Pita blogs

My friend Pita has started her own blog. Have a look.

How could I ever justify the killing of one person by another? All of the "pro" arguments seem to be so impersonal, contrasted with the visceral shudder I experience when I hear of another man dead. Be they Iraqi, American, British or Australian, is this the civilised world? A world where the powers that be change the rules of citizenship to suppress dissent amongst their people. A world where men of peace are branded "friends of Saddam"? A civilised world where one unelected leader kicks the shit out of another?

I am disgusted by the sight of Blair and (pah pah pah) Bush deciding how the spoils should be divided whilst the cynical French manipulate the European and UN dimension to their own ends. A war of liberation?

I'm happy to be accused of being "nelly". I "duck the issues" and "leave other people to make the difficult choices". But duck as I may, maybe I'd rather live in a smaller, less power and oil-hungry country, where staying on the sidelines is an acceptable moral compromise.

At least I wouldn't have the blood of Iraqis on my hands.

Because even though I didn't vote for the vicar of St Albion, I pay his henchman's taxes. I don't protest. I listen to those disgusting manufacturers of consent.

Pita writes that she is spending little time watching news of the havoc wrought on our behalf. I'm entranced by it - I spend hours at night reading news, comment, speculation, blogs, references, analysis - all to no avail. I'll have no effect on the outcome. But at least I'll have added another scar on my soul. Another blow to any chance of retaining a rosy view of the world. Dog really does eat dog. We're just the bigger dogs.

"Up on a hillside..."

Posted by nathan at 07:31 AM | Comments (0)


April 05, 2003
A new breed of martyrs?

And so our war of "liberation" progresses. I shudder every time I turn on my radio. What new horrors have been unleashed, supposedly on my behalf, supposedly in pursuit of freedom.

As we have entered Spring, the Hebrew month of Nissan, the sun shines on us. But its light is harsh over the desert.

Posted by nathan at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)


April 02, 2003
Guerrillas in the desert

The war continues and the falsehood of a central American premise is clear, The people of Basrah are not welcoming allied troops by throwing flowers. They are resisting their occupiers with glowering mistrust and guerrilla tactics. Troops discard their uniforms and merge into the civilian poulation. Suicide bombings have started. When will we be able to leave?

Posted by nathan at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)


March 27, 2003

Aztec Ouroboros

Some people manage to remain aloof from the news, others (like me) are "news junkies". I admire the former. I can do nothing to influence the elected leaders of the UK and unelected leaders of the USA. Still less can I influence the tyrant of Iraq - so surely aloofness is a more appropriate reaction to impotence.

But I sit at my laptop, with the BBC war coverage on all day and all night on the Internet.

And I cannot sleep, with my aunt ill, my family at war and the world devouring itself by the tail.

Posted by nathan at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)


March 12, 2003
This is the land of the free

This is the land of the free. It's time to make up your mind which side you're on. "You're either with us, or against us".

Posted by nathan at 04:36 AM | Comments (0)


March 09, 2003

The world's got itself in a real pickle over Iraq. I've never seen "divide and rule" practised so cleverly. So, is it war on 11th March, 17th March or can the French and Germans stop this crazy slide into violence?

What do the Americans and British know that they're not telling us? If we agree the need for Iraq to disarm, if we believe that they are a threat to peace in the Middle East and beyond, why go to war right now? I accept the argument that they've already had twelve years, but the Americans and Brits are looking foolish in trying to prove that Iraq and Al-Quaeda are linked, that they have nuclear weapons and that every step to destroy weapons is irrelevant. We're all told that Iraq is dangerous and that Saddam Hussein is playing games with us. Why can't we play the game better?

So the challenge is for the british and Americans to produce evidence that will convince the UN and their citizens. If not, they must wait for the UN weapons inspectors, IAEA and the slow, frustrating process of international diplomacy to pursuade more of us that war is the only option.

Posted by nathan at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)


March 05, 2003
Quiet men

Redwood to mothership. Redwood to mothership: Tory leadership contest imminent. Request urgent advice on strategy. Mothership to Redwood: Temper logic with emotion. I repeat, logic with emotion. Redwood to mothership: Affirmative. Request advice on topic. Mothership to Redwood: Urban transport infrastructure.

Sure enough, during an interview with a low-cirulation broadsheet, John reassured the interviewer: "It's emotional, too; I feel it. I feel rage in traffic jams."

Thanks: Guardian Backbencher

Posted by nathan at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)


February 18, 2003
A gallic slug

See here. Fascinating.

Meanwhile, at home, the opinion polls are swinging firmly against Blairs war and the man himself.

Posted by nathan at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)



Good one

Posted by nathan at 06:26 AM | Comments (0)


February 15, 2003
No unanimity

Blair spoke passionately (manufactured passion) at the Labour Spring Conference in Glasgow today. His speechwriters gave him two good soundbites. He dismissed this week's concessions by Iraq, saying: "The concessions are suspect. Unfortunately, the weapons are real." He said that his unwavering support for the unelected one was "the price of leadership and the cost of conviction".

Tasty morsels perhaps, but meager in comparison to the 30,000 outside the conference centre and the 750,000 who gathered in London later in the day. But will he listen?

It's already apparent that the simple arithmetic of the UN Security Council has made more difference to Blair than hundreds of thousands of his own people. With no likelihood of even a simple majority of a second resolution, Blair and Bush have decided to give Blix a chance - while the military buildup continues.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


February 14, 2003
Blix reports again

Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei

Hans Blix reported on Iraq to the United Nations today. The response was a noticeable shift away from the US/UK position. The balance between the fifteen members of the Security Council seems to leave only Spain supporting Britain and the USA. The French, German and Russian alliance has gained ground. Tomorrow, millions will protest in "stop the war" demonstrations around the world.

The last round of UN-sponsored resolutions and weapons inspections fizzled out in failure. It was clear that the Iraqis had ABC weapons programmes, and partial decommissioning was carried out. Yet many weapons are claimed to have been destroyed since 1998, with no evidence to prove this.

So, on the one hand, we have the Americans and British - determined to press ahead, with the world against them, unwilling to prove, even to their people, that a war is necessary. They endeavour to be Churchillian in their resolve, but confuse us with misleading evidence. On the other, we have "old Europe" an insult for which the French, Germans and Russians will be forever proud. They demand that inspections be given more time. Within this faction is a further, more doveish group (the "Chamberlains"), who will not countenance war at all. I suspect their motives (financial ties and antizionism) as much as I suspect the Blair/Bush grandstanding.

We are living in a dangerous, uncertain time. From today's perspective it seems as though the "Allies" will be forced to wait for two weeks, until Blix reports again. Tomorrow's protests may finally cut through to Blair, even if Bush remains deaf. But can democratic leaders survive a war that is rooted in suspicion and spin? Can soldiers face death without their country behind them? Can Blair and Bush, or the weapons inspectors, provide evidence incontrovertible enough to sway the French, Russinas and Chinese?

Their alternative is to proceed to war regardless. But the New Moon is on 7th March.

I shudder at the thought of wasted blood.

Posted by nathan at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)


February 13, 2003
Stormclouds over London

Intelligence reports of a potential surface-to-air missile attack on a flight in the Heathrow area has caused the Home Secretary (David Blunkett) to take unprecedented steps. These have involved the staioning of thousands of police and troops around Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and other airports since Tuesday. There have been several arrests, most pronounced "not significant", and, amazingly, a 37 year old Venezuelan man has been arrested in Gatwick airport, after smuggling a live grenade on an inbound British Airways flight from Caracas and Columbia.

Of particular note in this current situation is the public distrust of the Government's motives. In our hearts, we realise that such measures would only be taken by the authorities on substantial evidence. But, after last week's debacle (the manifestly misleading Iraq dossier), nobody can believe the Government to have motives beyond 'the end justifying the means'.

Falklands veteran Simon Weston claimed today that "the government had such a history of spin and lying that voters no longer knew what to believe".

The Tory's Oliver Letwin joined forces with Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes on to write a letter yesterday asking for time to discuss the current situation in the House of Commons ahead of the half-term recess. They wrote: "We both believe that - whilst the actions being taken are entirely justified - it is important that the public be informed by all parties in the House that this is not a stunt and that it should be taken seriously."

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed a single Nimrod maritime surveillance aircraft has been flying over London, "to aid communications on the ground".

No wonder the British are cynical.

Posted by nathan at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)


February 12, 2003
Terror alert

Troops and police are sent in droves to guard our airports and strategic sites in London. A "signal failure" causes large sections of the Underground network to be closed. Everybody's tense - and not talking about it.

What's going on, and can we believe the BBC?

Posted by nathan at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)


February 01, 2003
Shuttle lost

Sitting here working on a Saturday afternoon.

BBC news tells me that the Space Shuttle Columbia is lost.

I remember going into a Chemistry lesson in the lower sixth all excited about the first shuttle launch. I remember being at Oxford when we heard of the Challenger disaster. I was distraught then. It was as though I'd lost a close friend.

Why are these events, and others like the Paris Concorde disaster, more memorable than the deaths of thousands of people on the roads each day around the world?

My instantaneous reaction is that of a personal loss, but why?

I grieve for the families of people I don't know.

Is that noble? - I'm not sure.

Posted by nathan at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)


January 27, 2003
Blix on Iraqi weapons

Read here

I'm starting to be won over to the American argument (we all criticise Chamberlain with 20/20 hindsight...)

Blix struggles to make his evidence stick, but he does raise a number of outstanding concerns:
• Iraq has not produced proof it destroyed stocks of anthrax
• Baghdad has failed to account for up to 300 rocket engines
• there was evidence it had not destroyed all its VX nerve gas
• Its weapons declaration last month contained no new material

Iraq says the problem is that it is being pressed to "prove a negative".
In public reactions to the Blix report, Iraq has accepted that it does still have significant differences with the inspection agency over two key issues:
• The UN's wish to conduct private interviews with Iraqi scientists and officials who may be able to shed light on whether Iraq has really given up its weapons of mass destruction capacity.
• The UN's plan to carry out U2 surveillance flights alongside the inspections on the ground.

The most worrying bit for me was the VX gas and the Iraqi deletion of a critical table of evidence and renumbering of the subsequent pages. Consiracy, not cockup.

Posted by nathan at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)


January 25, 2003
Chomsky Beat

Noam Chomsky was interviewed by Francine Stock on BBC4 (one of the new digital stations). He talked about his optimism in the face of British and American aggression towards Iraq. He made the (obvious) comparison between the emperor and the pirate - the emperor being a pirate with a large fleet of ships. More interestingly, he placed the USA and UK in the mould of terrorists who are using the opportunity presented by 9/11 "to renew and intensify their violent actions.... an opportunity to clamp down further... on the civil liberties of their own citizens".

I'm terrified of the world around me.

Frightened sick and shaking that the bigots rule.

Because the world isn't "fair" and "rational"

And I'm powerless to light a candle strong enough to penetrate the murky gloom

"And darkness was upon the face of the deep"

Only Mahler saves me. I'm transported beyond the world to a place beyond care, suffering and where the music is intricate and disconnected from meaning - "there is no music on earth to compare with ours".

Back to my coffee.

Posted by nathan at 09:33 PM | Comments (4)


January 08, 2003
"I would like two eggs, lightly poached"

The Guardian reports that these were Roy Jenkins' last words, according to the Liberal Democrat peer (and fellow "gang of four" member) Lord "Bill" Rodgers.

I hope my last words are as concise.

Posted by nathan at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)


January 07, 2003
Anyone can whistle

As the sounds of preparation for this evil grow closer in the dark, it is left for us to wonder what hope there is for the world? Are we insane? Sleep walking towards annihilation? However much one reads or listens to the news, we are kept in the dark about the war which is being planned in our name.

Several friends have criticised my abhorrence of this disgusting display of militarism. They ask "how can you rail against our leaders who are only trying to curtail another tyrant"?

And yet one must despair at the blatant display of two-facedness. Where is our effort in the Middle East, what about North Korea? Are my concerns just cynicism and lack of trust in our saintly leaders?

There was even an article on Radio 4 about the benefit that war brings to the British economy. Madness, madness.

Roy Jenkins died on Sunday. His political views were never my style, but his integrity and bravery in setting up the SDP were an inspiration to all of us. I grew up in the 80's and remember the "gang of four" as they set out to change the structure of British politics. Who knows whether we can "thank" them for "new" Labour. At least they were true to their ideals. It is said that Blair relied on Jenkins' advice in the period from his accession to the party leadership until sometime near the end of his first term as Prime Minister. Jenkins was certainly more openly critical of the government after the 2002 election. If only the Conservatives could similarly face up to their internal divisions and develop itself into two new parties. For otherwise we are condemned to continued rule by this bumbling bunch.

Posted by nathan at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)


January 02, 2003
False Messiahs





Och aye!


Now I know it's 2003.

I'm going to work hard and persevere in my own little world, but i find it hard to greet the New Year with enthusiasm on the broader front. Whatever I feel about that snake oil peddler, at least he's being more accurate in his assessment of the wonders of the world around us than I had imagined. Or at least more prepared to share it with his serfs.

Posted by nathan at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)


December 19, 2002
Peace in our time

Not much of a subtle reference, was it? All twenty thousand pages.

Off to Munich soon.

Posted by nathan at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)


December 14, 2002
Product placement

It's a busy weekend. After returning from London after lunch, we booked to see the new James Bond film Die Another Day at the cinema in Cambridge. The expected product placement was very much in evidence. The story was much darker than previous films. I felt this to be a welcome change and Brosnan was excellent.

Indeed, it's provoked a protest from the North Koreans, who state that the film is "an insult to the Korean nation" and "a dirty and cursed burlesque aimed to slander and insult". Good for them.

Although, secretly, I'd love to be the villain in a Bond film.

I even cooked this evening - meatballs in tomato and pepper sauce. Alfred's been doing so much of the cooking recently, I've been missing the pleasure.

Debbie's found out about Brian - the lava flow commences in Ambridge.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


December 11, 2002
Cherie pickings

How I love a good political scandal. Watching the exasperation on the face of Blair as his wife's naive actions come to skewer the party agenda.


It's not her actions of course - they're just fumbling idiocy. It's comparable with the Ecclestone affair, where the inability to admit wrongdoing was compounded by the drip-drip as the truth was wrung out by the media.


Then, in tears, Blair had to admit his stupidity, whilst appealing over the heads of the media, direct to his loving people. "Trust me, I'm an honest man".


Posted by nathan at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)


December 08, 2002
Not a good shopper

We traipsed around Selfridges for what seemed like hours. I was looking for a decent pair of trousers and a shirt. I'm useless at shopping, but at least managed to buy a shirt for next weekend.

Great news about Cherie - keep it up.


Posted by nathan at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)


December 06, 2002
Where's Wally?

Which are the embezzelers, which the fraudsters, which the politically naive and who manipulates who?

Spot the difference...

The wife

The thief

The cook

Her lover

Posted by nathan at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)


December 01, 2002
Sunday papers

Robin has agreed to join the business from next year. Brilliant news.

Also, a scandal seems to be erupting around Cherie Blair. We'll soon see whether it's the Mail or Downing Street apologising.

Posted by nathan at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)


November 22, 2002
Firemen on strike

More cackhanded meddling by Tony's pugilistic pal.

Oh, how I wish for decent political leaders.

Posted by nathan at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)


November 21, 2002
Answers to nothing

High upon a hillside, a preacher tells his story to a crowd
He tells the same old story, a thousand times he's read that story loud.
He wants to give the answers but his words are only
Answers to nothing

Lying in my bedroom, a man comes on my TV with a grin
He tells me to believe him, he said that I should put my faith in him
He says he has the answers, but his words are only
Answers to nothing

Hear the chosen leaders say we can't stay sitting on the fence
Believe the stuff they feed us, they're buying guns and bombs for our defence
They think this is the answer, but their thoughts are only
Answers to nothing.

Where is all the friendship, how can all the comradeship be done
What of all the teachings, what of all the things that we learned when we were young
It doesn't bear the asking 'cos the answers given were
answers to nothing.

Midge Ure: Answers to nothing, 1988

Posted by nathan at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)


November 19, 2002
Locker Inspection

The Iraqis have accepted last week's UN resolution and the timetable for weapons inspection.

Why can't I trust our leaders? The grinning vicar of St. Albion's and the unelected President seem determined to provoke a war. Have we learned nothing from the experiences of the twentieth century?

Wahn! Wahn! Überall Wahn!

Madness! Madness, Everywhere madness! Wherever I look searchingly in city and world chronicles, to seek out the reason why, until they draw blood, people torment and flay each other in useless, foolish anger!

Hans Sachs, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Act 3. Translation Peter Branscombe

Posted by nathan at 07:16 PM | Comments (2)


November 05, 2002
IDS - wholly fool

Well, he deserves it. I dislike that man almost as much as the PM with the menacing grin. He is digging a hole for himself from which he will never escape.

Why is the Tory Party incapable of choosing a leader who has a chance of returning the party to office? Why can they not realise that "dry" economic policies can be combined with "wet" social liberalism? Their attitude towards Section 28 and the adoption bill is logically and morally inconsistent and appals me. I am ashamed of them. They disgust me.

So please, IDS, crawl into your little bigot-hole and realise that people with intelligence and a conscience will NEVER vote for you. Go away, and let the party put somebody in place who has a chance of setting the House in order.

We watched the Midsummer Common fireworks from the warmth and dryness of our kitchen window. Gunpowder, treason and plot.

Posted by nathan at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)


October 02, 2002
Is it Tuesday?

I sometimes seem to get on the treadmill of a week (or month) and lose sight of the passage of time. I was convinced at the end of today that it was still Tuesday. I think that's because of Monday's high - and I've worked solidly since then.

For some reason, people say they liked my talk yesterday evening - I had lots of cards pressed in my hand and half a dozen emails this morning from people wanting to discuss things further. Funny that, I was tired and felt I'd lost my thread a bit.

More cattiness from Edwina Currie today.

Posted by nathan at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)


September 28, 2002
Curried eggs

Edwina Currie revealed her 1984-1988 affair with John Major in today's Times. See the BBC news article for more tittle-tattle. The 'fragrant' Mary Archer was interviewed about her husband's recent escapades and came out with the most marvellous line "I am a little surprised, not at Mrs Currie's indiscretion, but at John's temporary lapse of taste".

I never liked Major's menacing grin. Trust me.

Posted by nathan at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)