A Tale of Two Moralities

trump corona

President Trump is putting non-medically-trained “experts” in charge of the COVID 19 problem. What could possibly go wrong?


Night was a clammy blanket over the jungles of Nambia. In the poorly-constructed corrugated tin hut that passed for the medical centre in the town of Mabula, crisis was never more than the next patient away. The team of medical specialists, who had once served here so proudly, was now reduced to a skeleton crew. Tired minds and tired bodies worked around the clock to keep up with the constant stream of emergencies: malaria, ebola, cholera, typhoid — each had done its worst. Epidemics had come and gone, but the funding? The funding had mostly gone. Nambia was, after all, a shithole: in the brave new world of medical aid you didn’t fund shitholes when you could be funding insurance companies’ dividends.

Doctor Shaw, a one-time army medic and a veteran of more years in so-called “shitholes” than she cared to remember, wiped the sweat from her eyes and tried to concentrate on intubating the emaciated baby before her. A precision job, given his tiny airway, and one not made easier by her stinging eyes and the unreliable light grudgingly thrown by the ancient generator. At last she succeeded: another Phyrric victory, probably — the baby would almost certainly be dead by the morning. Too little, too late. Just one more small body to add to the ever-deepening grave in her conscience.  As she hooked the child up to as strong an antibiotic as was available, she shrugged the feelings away. Self pity wouldn’t help her patients. She went to find the boy’s mother, to offer what small words of hope she might be able to excavate from a barrel that had long since been scraped dry. Hours later, as she fell into a restless sleep, she could not escape the despairing hope in the mother’s eyes.


A few hours later, in Washington DC, a President — whose most major contribution to medicine had been his own consumption of pharmaceutical products down the years — was looking forward to receiving large donations from pharmaceutical companies. He had a meeting with them later that same day and he could almost smell the opportunities. He congratulated himself on his knowledge of plague. One of the Four Horsemen, right? Useful, in the right hands.

In Nambia, a doctor, whose entire career had been dedicated to fighting actual plagues, awoke to find that real science had wrought a minor miracle and brought a young child back from the brink. Savour the victories, she told herself, as she relayed the good news to the boy’s mother: fighting plagues, be they viral, bacterial or Presidential, was a forever war.







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Wokeness: Elitism, Compassion or What?


‘Wokeness is elitism

masquerading as compassion’



Laurence Fox’s foray into Question Time’s chicken run, and the subsequent fallout, has certainly set the cat of disdain among the pigeons of wokeness.

Wokeness, it seems, is a problematic condition, because those who suffer from it are making racist/sexist mountains out of molehills: they are “virtue-signallers”; they are “smugly righteous”; they are “perpetually offended”.

I know these things because there is ample testimony on Twitter from those who self-identify as wokeness experts. These stalwarts can spot wokeness at a hundred paces, and, having spotted it, they safely ignore whatever take was being expressed, secure in the knowledge that it is irrelevant to their worldview.

Take this tweet, commenting on criticisms of Meghan Markle, as a case in point:

Woke Drones

The “woke-drones” keep “banging on” about racist criticism. How do we know they are woke-drones? Well, it’s obvious: as the author points out, he hasn’t seen any examples of actual racism against her. QED.

Helpfully, he then provides us with a clear definition of actual racism in this context: “specifically criticising her because of her ethnicity”. Case closed! Disregard the woke-drones!

Well, not quite so fast. At the risk of being considered a woke-drone myself, is it true that racism requires specific examples of criticism, mentioning race, nationality, colour or ethnicity? Do commentators have to tie their racism or sexism up in a neat little bow by making blatant references to ethnicity or gender? Should we disregard a vast array of alternative scenarios, where racism or sexism is presented in a more passive-aggressive manner? Should we draw a discreet veil over an entire class of discrimination described in the Equality Act as indirect discrimination? Would pointing those out be a case of “banging on”, or merely the introduction of much-needed perspective into a widely misunderstood area of debate?

In a nutshell, “woke” seems to have become the pejorative term of choice for dismissing those who might draw the demarcation zones of racist behaviour more judiciously than others. Following Question Time and the subsequent Twitterstorm, a common view seems to be “Thank God for Laurence Fox. He’s speaking up for the common man, at last!”

I beg to differ. What he’s doing is conveniently blurring the edges for those who don’t much care for introspection. He’s packaging potentially valid concerns as bleats or whines, rather than encouraging deeper thought around a difficult and complex issue. He calls thoughtfulness “elitism”. In this post-truth age, he is essentially saying don’t trust the educated. Where have we heard that before?

Those who insist that some debaters are over-sensitive whiners are really just saying “accept our rough and ready best guess”. Don’t ask questions. Don’t rock the boat. Think like us. Columnists like Piers Morgan are, as someone pointed out to me today, paid to stir the pot, and they do it well. The question is, though, to what end? Whose interests do they really serve?

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Have I Got News For You

The snow is with us once again, so I felt this dig at GMB deserved another run out. This was written before Piers Morgan stamped his mark on the programme; it’s quite nostalgic remembering those days when female presenters got an opportunity to contribute.

Kind of Lime

The current spell of cold weather seems to have put the media into an all-round tizzy. This morning I watched Good Morning Britain to see how they would report it. What follows is, I’d like to feel, the essence of what they did. Names have been changed to avoid litigation.


“Welcome back to the Good Morning Britain studio. My name’s Amanda Periwinkle…”

“…and I’m Cornelia Scruffgrunter…”

“Later we’ll be meeting Britain’s most talented dog, Buster, who has memorised the complete works of William Wordsworth in just over a week…”

“…and at seven-forty Doctor Bob will be telling us why it’s most unwise to eat unpasteurised horse manure…”

“…but, first, our main story: you’ve have been tweeting literally in your thousands to say how alarmed you are by the strange weather.  Well, we’ve been investigating, and apparently the strange weather is all due to a disturbance in our weather patterns that…

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Back to the Eighties


I set myself the task of writing a song that evoked that most tasteful* of popular music decades, the Eighties. Here’s the result. I’d be interested to see which influences you spot.


Why Don’t You Need Me?

Your e-mail made no sense at all

And now you won’t return my calls;

A less secure man would be crying

It seems that you ain’t even trying

To look at it from my perspective,

What am I, a love detective?

The point I’m making’s elementary:

Ditchin’ me’s the crime of the century.

This hard-to-get thing’s getting stupid,

I ain’t no good at playing Cupid,

Your silent treatment’s worse than torture,

Just think of all the flowers I bought ya!

Don’t listen to your best friend Geri,

I didn’t steal them from the Cemetary

I’m Mister Romance, like Morten Harket,

I got them from the supermarket:

So come on babe, pick up the phone

Can’t stand these evenings on my own.

So come on babe, all those nights we dated!

It cannot be that complicated!



*or not, depending on your point of view

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Elton Don

The President made quite the splash this week in Helsinki.

With all due apologies to Elton John and Bernie Taupin, here’s my starry-eyed tribute to the POTUS.

putin trump


(To Vlad, with love, always, Donnie xxxxx)

It’s a little bit funny
This President thing
But I’m one those guys who can
Do anything

I have so much money
Though not all of it’s mine,
I live in a big White House
So everything’s fine

If I was a golfer
I’d play every day
With a girl on each arm for all those
Difficult lays
I know it costs money but, hey,
It’s the best I can do,
They sign non-disclosures:
Here’s one’s for you.

And you can tell everybody
Vlad is my pal,
I may be quite simple but,
Like Steven Seagal,
I really don’t mind,
I really don’t mind
What I put down in words,

As long as Vlad pays me, I’ll screw the whole world.

I went to the summit and hacked off the press
And quite a few of my colleagues, but frankly I could care less,
And Sean Hannity’s been quite kind, said I did nothing wrong
It’s for people like him that I keep Fox News turned on

So excuse me forgetting

That word I misused,

You see I keep getting

“Would” and “wouldn’t” very confused,

Anyway, the thing is,

What I really mean,

Vlad is the coolest dude

I’ve ever seen!

And you can tell everybody
Vlad is my pal,
I may be quite simple but,
Like Steven Seagal,
I really don’t mind,
I really don’t mind
What I put down in words,

As long as Vlad pays me, I’ll screw the whole world.


I really don’t mind,
I really don’t mind
What I put down in words,

As long as Vlad pays me, I’ll screw the whole world.

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The Long and Grinding Road

News broke yesterday that caused much weeping and gnashing of teeth among Salisbury residents.

From Salisbury Journal online:

Milford Mill Report

In an idle moment of whimsy I tweeted, in a reply to Salisbury Journal’s Rebecca Hudson, a parody chorus based on “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road”

MMR Tweet

Later, it was picked up and mentioned by Pat Sissons, evening DJ on on our local radio station, Spire FM. He even sang it, which was brave. I had tried earlier and nearly busted my larynx trying to vault over the high bits.

pat sissons

Today I felt it was my duty to complete the whole song.

So here it is. You’re welcome.


Goodbye, Milford Mill Road

When are you gonna be done?
When will the gas flow again?
I shouldn’t have stayed in my car
I should have listened to Spire FM

You know you can’t stay closed forever,
We didn’t sign up for that news;
Twenty five weeks now until you re-open
That’s way too long and we’re singing the blues.

So goodbye, Milford Mill Road,
Where the gasworks are starting again,
You can’t get straight through to Tesco
And the A36 is a pain,

Back to the joys of the Park’n’Ride bus,
Back to the route overflowed,
Oh, I’ve finally found what the future holds
Along the Milford Mill Road.

What do you think we’ll do then?
Would anyone care to explain?
It’ll take much more than a vodka and tonic
To get me on a bike again

Maybe I’ll use a replacement
Take Shady Bower in towards town,
Hang a left at Fowler’s Hill turnoff?
No – sod it! – hi Waitrose, I’m on my way down

So goodbye Milford Mill Road
Where the gasworks are starting again
You can’t get straight through to Tesco
And the A36 is a pain

Back to the joys of the Park’n’Ride bus
Back to the route overflowed
Oh I’ve finally found what the future holds
Along the Milford Mill Road

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Return of the Japanese Knotweed

Every now and then an apparently harmless Twitter exchange can act as inspiration for the strangest of ideas. Genesis once wrote a song about a Giant Hogweed and, as you can see, @janh1 commented that it was somewhat weird subject matter.


Hogweed Tweet


“Well, why not?” I thought.

Here’s the Japanese Knotwood rap. Be careful what you wish for!

(Caution: contains a naughty M word. Twice)


Fallopia japonica,

That motherfucka killed your dupontia!

Fallopia japonica,

Got its greedy eyes on your macedonica ~

You know it’s gonna be wrongin’ ya.

Fallopia japonica.

Call the police or a priest,

Mista Fleeceflower is lookin to strangle ya;

He wants to entangle ya!


Ties that bind,

He’s a vine,

Shoots a line

Like some Spiderman danglin’ ya;

When he’s gotcha

He’s gonna garotte ya

In your vegetable plot, yeah!

He’s a knotweed, he’ll make you knock-kneed,

He’ll make your eyes bleed,

He grows at lightning speed,

He’s like a lightning seed

(Without Skinner or Baddiel)





There’s no hope for ya!

It’s dystopia!



He’s a knotweed, he’ll make you knock-kneed,

He’ll make your eyes bleed,

He grows at lightning speed

He’s a knotweed, he’ll make your eyes bleed!



That motherfucka killed your dupontia!




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