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Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Ed Balls Day Massacre

Yeah, bit of a riot, this frosty Ed Balls Day.

Since 4,000 BC the Beaker Folk have celebrated Ed Balls Day with a sunrise Pouring-Out of Beakers.

On a cold morning, the mist shimmering off the spring waters, poured out to symbolise the blessing of Ed Balls on the land, is very moving. Especially when we reinforce it with some dry ice.

But this merry Ed Balls Day, disaster struck. People forgot the words. Which isn't very impressive, when you think the entire Liturgy consists of the name of the man whose day it is. And them someone asked if Ed Balls was the one who can't eat bacon sandwiches, or the one who wears those over-tight shorts.

Hey ho, I suppose that's politics.

But then Hnaef took it upon himself to educate everybody on what Ed Balls is all about. And you have to hand it to Hnaef. Only the English Upper Class can be so effortlessly multi-culti liberal, while simultaneously taking their own natural superiority for granted.

So Hnaef tried to teach the Beaker Folk the ancient Ed Balls Day anthem they sing at King's College. In the original Syriac, of course. And the Beaker Folk's attempt at singing in 7.5 part harmony was so hideous that it woke Grendel, the Community cat.

Grendel hates being woken by Beaker Folk yowling. He always assumes it's some feminine feline feeling fruity, then gets all annoyed and frustrated. And takes out his existential rage on the first living thing he sees.

Which happened to be Ed Balls, who to celebrate his special day was skipping around the Upper Paddock with Herne the Hunter and an assortment of squirrels.

There was something so essentially English pastoral about that whole scene, as Grendel wreaked mighty havoc with Ed Balls and chased him off towards the motorway. That was some nasty slashes Ed sustained. Thank goodness he wasn't wearing his shorts.

Still, now we've got to eat our Ed Balls Buns, then look forward to opening the Ed Balls presents before we watch Yvette Cooper's speech then take the baubles off the Ed Balls Tree.

That's the thing about Ed Balls Day. You spend so long preparing for it, it's got so commercial - and then it's all over so quickly. We've lost the real meaning.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

If Acts of Confession Were Like Apologies

Burton Dasset: I'm sorry I neglected the family. But it was really important to ensure the project's quality standards were maintained. And that meeting on the right font for business communication  went on till 9pm.

Stacey Bushes: I'm sorry I said I'd like to burn your shed down. But it's an ugly shed.

Marston Moretaine: I'm sorry if I offended you. Albeit some might say your skin is a bit thin. But I'm prepared to accept I should have taken more consideration for your being so precious.

Young Keith: I'm sorry I stole your hat for a joke in 2008. And for the 8 years I've denied responsibility. It wasn't a very good hat. Here, have it back if you're gonna be unreasonable about it.

Hnaef: I'm sorry I broke your leg in that "Beaker 5-a-side" tournament. And yes, I was wearing steel toed boots. But have you never heard of shin pads?

Charlie: I'm sorry if I smashed your dinner in your face. But it's been a hard week. And you've not really been much support. Whoever you are.

Archdruid: You are all provisionally forgiven. But whatever caveats you've applied may also apply to this forgiveness.

(For advice on real apologies, see Sorrywatch)

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Liturgy of Mockery of Bernard Ingham

Archdruid: He said he'd formed his view of events from the media reports. Presumably including the Sun's reports, whose evil lies he thereby backed up.

All: He was wrong.

Archdruid: He said people should shut up about Hillsborough.

All: He was wrong.

Archdruid: He called the Liverpool fans "tanked up yobs".

All: He was wrong.

Archdruid: He advised Liverpool fans who had lost relatives, to let it drop rather than pursue justice.

All: He was wrong.

Archdruid: So he helped cover up those responsible.

All: He was wrong.

Archdruid: And now, in his later years.....

All: He knows he's wrong. Even if he denies it to himself, he knows he's wrong. He knows everyone knows that he was wrong.

Archdruid: And though this does not bring back one child, one husband, one friend or parent who should have come from a game of football...

All: ....we wish him many more years of life. So he can reflect on just how wrong he was.

Archdruid: And we will never, never, never call him "Sir".

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Spirituality of Swindon

Today's "The Spirituality of Swindon" was a surprise success for those of us who don't believe it has any. The scale model of Solsbury Hill was more impressive than expected, after the millimeter/feet confusion in the measurements.

When we finally could climb to the top we found that the "city lights" we could see included Milton Keynes, which we expected, but also Peterborough, London and Nantes.

Other surprises were that we found Spinal Tap wanting royalties for their joke, and that the gravitational pull of the new mountain is the real reason the North Pole is now moving in our direction.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Myths of Genesis - the Revenge

Our follow-up retreat, "Myths of Genesis - the Revenge" maybe focussed too much in its advertising on lovely pictures of the moon, sun and stars. This resulted in the attendance being mostly comprised of astrologers.

I would say that was bound to happen, but you've probably already predicted I would do that.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Faith and Science - Opposed or Aligned?

Our Discussion Day today. "Faith and Science - Opposed or Aligned?" was a great success. The atheists proved they knew nothing about the philosophy of religion. And the believers proved they knew enough about science to put laxative in the atheists' tea.

None of the atheists came back for the afternoon for some reason, so the session "Myths of Genesis" only upset the creationists.

"Brainwashed Fools Feed Poor"

Nicely done, The Onion.

The Death of the Celebrity

The BBC runs an interesting argument on why there are so many famous deaths this year already. Concluding that it's gonna be like this from now on - the number of famous people increased sharply with the advent of television, while the population - the boomers - increased sharply post-war, thus giving us what might be called an optimal environment for a famous-death occasion.

I wonder however for how long this scenario will be maintained. The great upsurge of record-boying that gave us so many baby-boomer pop stars was when I was in my teens. I note that by the BBC's reckoning, Billy Idol is a baby-boomer. Which makes me wonder if we can sue him for calling his former band Generation X. But when that great pantheon of singers has taken its final bow and toppled off the stage, what then? Their place - on a multiplicity of channels - has been taken to a large degree by lesser folk. People who just want to be on TV. People who are happy to be filmed 24 hours a day eating baked beans and playing "Who's that fart?" In other words, "reality TV stars."

The only way the TV companies can fill up the schedules is by screenings of less important, cheaper people. They all get to say they are " X from Made in Chelsea", but they're just endless recycling on a theme - muscle-bound blerk from Newcastle / dyed-blonde woman / man with hair that looks like a brunette iced-gem / woman who has a habit of showing off parts of her body you'd really rather she didn't. And as they become more identikit (or, as Peter Cook used to so foppishly say, identiquite), people just ain't as famous as they used to be.

A club in the Midlands that Burton visited on one of his drip-mat collecting expeditions had a board advertising three leading comedians. One was from TOWIE, one wasn't, and one was apparently actually famous as a comedian who got to the semi finals of Britain's Got Talent. This isn't exactly a show with Victoria Wood, Linda Smith and Rik Mayall. And that's my point. We have reached peak celebrity. The genuinely famous are increasingly dying out and being replaced by people who are legends in their own lunchtimes.

What this means is that we shall soon reach the point where there are more dead genuinely famous people - "stars" and "superstars" than there are living ones. We will have a talent deficit to the next world. What sort of place to live will that be? One where we have to resort to watching re-runs of Last of the Summer Wine, Only Fools and Horses and Minder. We will be living in UK Gold, in other words.

So dry your tears for Prince, and Victoria Wood. The next will be along in a minute. This is how it's gonna be, ice-caps permitting, for the next 20 years. Can someone please keep an eye on Peter Sallis? He's the only one beating the odds.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Satire of Inappropriate Outrage

Much upset in SocMed land about the news that the Queen is to be given Framlingham Castle as a birthday present.

For instance... (and follow the responses)
I am a big reader of the Suffolk Gazette. I have linked to them before and I have them in my sidebar. Of course, the whole point of the Suffolk Gazette is carried in their strap line - "YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP". The Suffolk Gazette has as much resemblance to life in Suffolk as this blog is an everyday tale of country folk in a small Bedfordshire village.

There's ways to slant the chances of spotting spoofs (or lies), of course. For example:
  1. If the news story has anonymous spokespeople, or a farmer called "Maurice Piper"
  2. If it features in Snopes with the word "False" against it.
  3. If the source page doesn't exist, or has a cookies message that seems oddly interested in beer.
  4. If it is so outrageously stereotypical about the people you are asked to be angry about, that it is clearly not true. NB this does not normally apply to stories about Donal Trump, which are all true.
  5. If it appears on a known fake website.#
  6. If, like the David Cameron "pig" story, there is only unlikely and inconsistent evidence from somebody who might have a reason to put the story in the media.
  7. If you really want it to be true.
In the instant-reaction echo chamber that is modern Social Media these things will only take five minutes to check out. Honest. I know I'm a trained scientist - but the rest of you could catch up, honest. (And we do get things wrong around here.) But it saves a lot of frenzy. Although that frenzy has no doubt done the Suffolk Gazette Beer Fund a lot of good.

But - the trouble is - sometimes we like the frenzy more than the truth. I once received a chain email from someone complaining about a play that (a) was blasphemous and (b) was doing the rounds of the UK. I replied pointing out that the play (a) was not as bad as it was being painted and (b) hadn't been shown in the UK for years, with no plans to re-stage it.

The person who sent me the email replied that, even if what I said was true, he was glad he'd warned everybody.

And took me off his mailing list.

Internet horror. Because sometimes the truth is just too truthful.