Blowing Things Up

The Rugby World Cup is getting explosive…

“I [= Springboks coach Rudi Straeuli] will be clearing a lot of issues with the referee on Friday. The maul is one of England’s powerful weapons: if Neil Back is bound, the maul is legal; if he is not – and this is something he does with Leicester as well as England – he is breaking the regulations and should be blown up.” Jacques Brunel, France’s forwards coach, agreed and then took the opportunity to condemn England’s tactics in the lineout on the opposition throw. “They only pretend to contest the ball,” he said. “They put their arms around the opponent’s jumper while he is coming down to stop him from releasing the ball. At the same time another of their players goes through and round the lineout with his arms in the air to say, ‘sorry ref, mistake’, but he is actually slowing down their opposition’s support players and should be blown up.

From today’s Guardian.

The Iron Lady

Good news: the second volume of John Campbell’s biography of Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady, has been published. Matthew Norman, in today’s Guardian Diary, has a bit of fun at Peregrine Worsthorne’s (and Mark Thatcher’s) expense:

In the Spectator, Peregrine Worsthorne reviews the second volume of John Campbell’s brilliant Thatcher biography, quoting a passage about how “the paradox of Thatcherism is piquantly embodied” in her family history. Campbell compares Alfred Roberts, the shopkeeper with a strong sense of civic duty and an obsession with thrift, with “Mark Thatcher, an international businessman possessed of visible abilities, qualifications of social conscience …” Perry’s always been a broad brush chap, and it barely matters, but in the original text is a “no” before that “visible”. How many times must we tell these young ‘uns about the sovereign importance of checking the detail?

In the first sentence of his review, Worsthorne notes that Campbell “poses the question of what Alderman Roberts would have thought of the new Thatcherite Britain”, and comments that, “It is a question which, to the best of my knowledge, has never been asked before”. Odd, perhaps, to review the second volume of a book when you clearly haven’t paid attention to the first.

Or Was It A Police Riot?

Today is the tenth anniversary of the UNITY march against the British National Party in Welling, South East London, which was also the last demonstration I ever went on that became rather violent, although, not being terribly good at violence, I stayed out of the way. (“Or Was It A Police Riot?” was the frontpage headline of the next issue of the New Statesman and Society, as it was called back then, but I don’t really remember what the verdict was, and there’s not much 1993-vintage material archived on the internet for me to reconstruct the arguments and evidence one way or the other).

The things I do remember from the march were some of the slogans. The oddest one was one of the most popular — “We are black, we are white, together we are dynamite!”, which seemed to me both then and now to express Enoch Powell’s sentiments rather well. There was also a much better chant, which the Midlands SWP brought with them, of “Unemployment and inflation, are they caused by immigration? Bullshit! Come off it — the enemy is profit!”, the second line of the couplet having a slightly more complex rhythm that you don’t normally hear on protest marches.

From Noble Savage to Metrosexual

From Crooked Timber‘s Chris Bertram:

I’m always on the lookout for media references to Rousseau, even if they usually perpetuate the “noble savage” myth. For some reason, I especially liked this write-up of a US tv show Tarzan:

In his 1755 “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality Among Men”, French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau stated, “Man in his natural state was born essentially good and free of all prejudices.”In a summer when Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” has attempted to tweeze, wax, massage, redecorate and redress man in his natural state in the hopes of making something more civilized out of him, Rousseau’s “noble savage” seems in danger of being replaced by the urbane metrosexual.

Not sure who this French philosopher Rousseau is, though…