Thursday, May 31, 2007

Quit with the quitting already

How are our panel members doing as they try to quit smoking before the ban comes in? asks the BBC.

And I ask: is there anything, anything, in this universe less interesting than people describing at length their heroic efforts to give up tobacco?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


is a good word, isn't it? And it's what posting might be for a little while, since real work is currently hitting me right where it hurts: in my blogging time.

But if you can, make sure you watch Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain programme. It's brilliant.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bunch of Deacons

Could Snack the dog, Professor Foodsmart and the Great Grub Club Gang be the answers to helping cut childhood obesity?

The World Cancer Research Fund hopes that by using the health conscious characters on its new website it can encourage better eating and a more active lifestyle among its target audience of four to seven-year-olds.

Competitions, puzzles and stories aim to encourage children to learn more about food.

The answer to the question posed in the opening sentence above is No. This is because children are not idiots and can spot something which is thinly disguised as fun but which is actually educational and worthy a Cornish mile off.

Children are, however, nasty little bastards. Roald Dahl, the Beano and South Park understood this. Well-intentioned people with Great Causes rarely do. Their good intentions tend to backfire. Anyone who remembers what happened with Joey Deacon will undertand the nadir of this phenomenon.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Science versus anti-humans

According to this extraordinary report, Chinese farming families are beating the one-child rule by using fertility drugs to conceive twins.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Prostalgia and Fergietime

Yesterday at about 1.10pm the Barnstaple Western Bypass bridge opened, and a couple of hours later I drove triumphantly across it, whooping as I went (I was probably about the thousandth car over, but rest assured, in a few years the story will be that I was the first and nearly ran over the Mayor as he cut the ribbon).

We have discussed before the effect of elation that a really good bridge can bring, and although the Barnstaple effort can’t claim to be in the very highest bridging echelons, its opening is significant for North Devon, because it has been discussed, bemoaned, protested against, complained about, complained about for being absent and generally been the subject of local jaw-jaw for as long as anyone can remember.

And there I was at last, swooping majestically over the Estuary. And as I crossed I felt an extraordinary and profound emotion, for which I cannot think of an appropriate word so I will have to coin one. It was a mixture of optimism, of pride in man’s engineering and organisational ingenuity, of a sentimental longing to see what he’ll achieve next, a certain realisation that he is neither Doomed nor Hellbound in a Handcart after all, and a belief that if I was offered the immortality-giving pill, I would take it without hesitation because I don’t want to miss whatever comes next. A kind of nostalgia for the future, if you will. I felt for an instant as Oroborous must feel nearly all the time.

Let’s call it prostalgia. Even if it does sound like an unmentionable disease.

And then, of course, AC Milan beat Liverpool in the Champions League Final, with the Reds being shamefully denied their share of the Fergietime that would certainly have seen them snatch a last-gasp equaliser, and it was back down to earth with a bump.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cornish Independence

This week is Cornwall week in our corner of the blogosphere, with Bryan Appleyard purchasing models of Enola Gay in Mevagissey, and Monix blaming piskies for her navigational incompetence.

The idea of Cornish independence is always good for a laugh, but when you go there you realise it really is another country. The countryside blends into Devon but somehow you still know you’re there. Some quality of the light, perhaps. Certainly the place names, which mostly begin with ‘Tre’. Also the archaic rural poverty, the juxtaposition of great empty fields and Atlantic vistas with claustrophobic, single-file fishing village tourist traps. No city, its own ice cream, Wimpy restaurants, manky branches of Somerfield, deadly seagulls, the yokellest locals.

Cornwall has a better claim to independence on cultural grounds than Scotland. As does Liverpool, in fact.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Whatever happened to Terry and Julie?

The Kinks are to re-release Waterloo Sunset to mark the single's 40th anniversary.

Some songs are so ingrained into the national consciousness that they no longer really belong to the original artists, but to the country. Possibly to the Queen, in fact.

An original performance with excellent sound quality can be enjoyed here.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wot, no conkers?

American boys who swot up on The Dangerous Book for Boys, a runaway British bestseller, will learn nothing about such staples of British childhood as conkers and cricket.

The book has been extensively rewritten for the American market to replace conkers with “stickball” and the laws of cricket with the equally incomprehensible Navajo Code Talkers’ Dictionary.

A lesson on the etymology of “cor blimey” has been dropped, and a trick involving hiding a £1 coin behind your ear now uses an American quarter.

A section listing the kings and queens of England and Scotland has been replaced with the “most valuable players” in baseball.


The book, which has reached No 3 on the Wall Street Journal’s nonfiction bestseller list, appears to be driven partly by American fascination with British schoolboys created by the Harry Potter books.

“I feel like Harry Potter has become part of our lexicon,” Mr Benjamin said. “I would hesitate to say that American boys want to grow up to be British kids, but it’s part of their fantasy.”

Well naturally it is, poor things.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Definition of the day

Pray v.

To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

From The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Pierce

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Messi v Maradona

Earlier I complained about football cliche - which doesn't so much pepper commentators' speech as entirely drench every single part of it.

So anyway, Barcelona's Argentinian wonderboy Messi recently scored a goal almost identical to Maradona's legal one against England at the 86 World Cup, and while looking for it on YouTube I came across this.

Now that's how you do football commentary!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The Eurovision Song Contest voting system needs to be changed because it is "harmful to the relationship between the peoples of Europe", an MP has said.

Countries voted for their neighbours rather than the best songs, Liberal Democrat MP Richard Younger-Ross said.

And the BBC should insist on voting changes or withdraw from the contest all together, he added.

Serbia won Saturday's contest, while the UK was second from bottom, only receiving votes from Ireland and Malta.

Mr Younger-Ross said the present structure was a "joke", adding that votes were based "largely on narrow nationalistic grounds".

Even a bloody singing contest goes to hell. Other than hopeless, blind optimism and a complete inability to process evidence, why does anyone think a European Union can ever work?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Scooch gone

Scooch finished second last in the Eurovision Song Contest and, thanks only to our friends in Ireland and plucky little Malta, narrowly managed to avoid the infamous nil points.

Naturally Scooch were terrible, but no more so than any of the other entries. In fact, they were among the least appalling of a truly appalling lot. There has always been political voting in Eurovision (Sweden and Norway always swap 12s), but it is now clear that the competition has a completely new agenda.

The music is literally irrelevant – instead, it is a chance for troubled Eastern European states to give each other little friendship tokens. Fourteen of the top sixteen places were Eastern European. I suppose that when Bosnia and Serbia are voting for each other, it is churlish to complain about artistic integrity.

The old Western European states are spare parts at Eurovision now – out of place and awkward, like uncles at a disco.

One minor point of satisfaction – for the first time ever, the French contestants sang in English, a remarkable admission of cultural defeat that has gone almost unnoticed.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Some quacking about indoctrination and religion at the Daily Duck.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Go Scooch

There aren’t too many cultural thingamajigs that Britain does better than anybody else these days. The Americans write meatier novels, the Spanish make more ridiculous modern buildings, the French more pretentious food and the Germans have the classical music business sewn up.

But there are a few, such as costume dramas, stand-up comedy and, especially, pop music.

And so we come to the Eurovision Song Contest, that bizarre, bloated, camp cultural dinosaur that just refuses to die, despite our best efforts to kill it every year by offering as our entry not one of the myriad super-talented young musicians that pack bills in our smoky city venues every night of the week, but rather a steaming turd – this time in the crapulent shape of a bimbo/poofta quartet dressed as airhostesses.

There are perfectly valid reasons for this. It shows a healthy and commendable contempt for the continent, and we’d lose whoever we sent, since the voting is shamelessly rigged as nervous New Europe countries vote for each other, and Old Europe hates us for being in the Iraq war.

Fortunately, no Gallic sneer could ever be as offensive as selecting Scooch to represent us while hundreds of premier league quality Brit guitar bands clog up the European charts with storming pop music.

To pick one at random, The Fratellis song Chelsea Dagger alone, for example (below), has at least three catchy tunes each of which will be far more glorious than whichever particular Euroturd eventually triumphs tonight. Still, it's all fun.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Outside Wells Cathedral

This poem has been temporarily removed for secret reasons

Links: Wells Cathedral bells and the Cathedral Green.

More poetry

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Back with another one of those block-rockin' beats

I return, and have many a thing to say about the jocks, the Scottish Parliament building and such like, and even a rhyme which has been in gestation for some few weeks.

But time is my enemy at present, so for now I give you some showboating. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Book of Blog Quotations

"Blogs are more like pubs than debating chambers", said Bryan Appleyard, stealing my analogy. "Wisdom and insight appear fleetingly and are often forgotten by the next morning."

This is unfortunately true, but Think of England does not intend to stand idly by and let the many pearls of blogging wisdom just disappear into the ether. The following is intended to be a perma-linked record of some of the best Post-Judd and Post-Post-Judd quotations, witticisms, one-liners, insights and insults. I will be adding more, so don't fret if your nuggets are not yet here.

Please do suggest additions in the comments, though strict rules state that you cannot propose your own bon mots.

There are limits to our ability to summon up or command reverence. Memorials for dead soldiers touch almost everyone because they speak to lives consciously risked and sacrificed to protect us. The modern penchant for memorials to victims of terrorism, poverty, abuse, breast cancer, etc. etc. are in the end just reminding us that sh-t happens. We already have memorials to these people. They are called graves.
Peter Burnet 25/9/06

“I am a good person if I help the poor. I help the poor by arguing that the Government should tax people like me more and give the money to the poor. I am a good person.”
David Cohen describes the leftist view of social policy*

I also don't understand going out into the countryside to shoot things. I feel it's a terrible failure of the imagination, like taking a television set on a hike. The wilderness is complete and self-justifying; all we are required to do is look at it.
Bryan Appleyard 17/4/07

Your self-contained wilderness is no such thing, it is a manicured garden devoid of predators. You feel no need to shoot game because you eat beef and pork raised on some factory farm and slaughtered and butchered by low wage laborers. Your idyllic stroll in the woods is only possible because of modern man's absolute dominance over nature.
Duck responds 17/4/07

Religion is the only motive I know of that causes people to avoid pleasure for the sole purpose of avoiding pleasure.
Harry Eagar, concluding a barn-storming explanation of the evolution of pleasure.

As a side note, you might achieve a better understanding of the world by not presuming President Bush is the source of all evil. He’s only one man, he can’t do it all.
AOG (aka Susan's Husband) 26/11/06.

Amateurish where it wasn't wholly incompetent, it failed to garner laughter from the gallery only because it summoned so much more pity.
Hey Skipper describes his own defence case, in his astonishing multi-part tour de force Peter's World

In America, if you can do, the odds are pretty good that you'll be allowed to do.
Oroborous 15/1/06

I always thought you should never do terribly wrong things, obviously, because they are terrible, but you should never do trivially wrong things because they aren't worth selling out over.
Mike Beversluis 25/3/07

*I can't seem to find the exact quote for this one, but it was like that.

A crack at the Jocks

ToE will be back after the weekend. We're off to Edinburgh for a few days to celebrate my survival of another decade. But please do pass the long, lonely hours without me by digging up quotations for the post above.

Face values

The demise of BP Chief Lord Browne causes the BBC to wonder whether British business has a 'pink plateau'.

Or, given that poor Browne looks exactly like the intermediary stage in a morphing sequence between Tony Blair and George Bush, it could be that the judge just didn't like his face.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


The Independent has yet another bash at Blair over the ‘legacy’ of Iraq, but finds to its dismay that Blair is still remarkably well thought-of by the British public

But there is some positive news for Mr Blair. Despite public hostility over Iraq, 61 per cent of people believe that he has been a good Prime Minister overall, with only 36 per cent thinking he has been a bad one.

Only one in 10 Labour supporters say he has been a bad Prime Minister, while 89 per cent regard him as having been a good one.

The poll suggests there is strong respect for Mr Blair across the political spectrum. A majority (62 per cent) of Liberal Democrat supporters think he has been a good Prime Minister, while only 36 per cent of them regard him as a bad one. Almost half (45 per cent) of Tory voters believe he has been a good Prime Minister, while 53 per cent judge him a bad one.

Mr Blair hopes that history will cast a different light on his support for the invasion of Iraq. But the poll confirms what his close allies have known for some time: that the continuing problems in Iraq will overshadow other issues when he announces his departure timetable.

I’ve long thought that while Blair has had his time now, we’ll miss his statesmanship and stature. How we feel about being represented abroad by our PM is a factor often underestimated by political pundits.

With Prime Ministers, there are Biggies and Forgettables (interspersed with the occasional Disaster like Callaghan). Thatcher was a Biggie, Major a Forgettable, and Blair another Biggie. A succession of dull, charisma-free elections will follow his departure, with various Forgettables doing their best not to become Disasters.

(And history will of course be much kinder to Blair on Iraq than the Independent pretends.)

Rafarafa Benitez

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Scientists have shown how cannabis may trigger psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia.

It may also cause you to be extremely boring company, and if you are a stand-up comedian, to suffer the delusion that stories about going to 24-hour garages to satisfy your 'munchies' are amusing.

Some people refer to me as The Illustrated Man

If you fancy a good dumb belly-laugh of a movie, you can do a lot worse than The Passion of the Christ.

Failing that, Blades of Glory is pretty funny too.

To give you an idea, it's better than Talladega Nights but not as good as Anchorman or Zoolander. Will Ferrell, as usual, plays with deadly seriousness a pompous fool. Here he is explaining his 'ink'.

It does give me an idea for Mel Gibson's next project, however: The Christ on Ice!