More OxBlogs

It’s not just the Labour councillors in this town who scribble on blogs. Local Green councillor Matt Sellwood’s got a blog, too, and he writes, with reference to what’s going on just around the corner from where I live:

On that note, I am also getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow [Monday] to go down to the old Lucy’s Factory site, where British Waterways have been stopped from evicting the boatyard by squatters. Contrary to the typical (and false) image of squatters as people who move in and trash a place, the squatting community in Oxford attempts to defend absolutely crucial community facilities like the boatyard (without which, most of the boating community in oxford would lose their affordable homes) and deserve wholehearted support…

Read more about this kind of thing, and other kind of things, over here.


Is the Oxford Labour Party now the most seriously blogged-up local political party in the country? The district party includes our recent parliamentary candidate Antonia Bance, NUS sab Jo Salmon, Oxford City Councillors Dan Paskins in Lye Valley and Rick Muir and Bob Price in Hinskey Park, together with other local members including me, blogger Mike Rowley and one of the more sensible occasional Harry’s Place commenters, Stephen Marks.

That seems like a lot to me, though no doubt the person or people behind Bloggers4Labour can tell me that we’re only the twelfth most blogged-up local party, or something similar. Are there similar blog-legions in other parties’ local parties, or are they still doing sensible old-fashioned things like knocking on doors and persuading people to vote for them?

Why Country Music is Called Country Music

I probably should have known this, but I didn’t.

Credit Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and the wave of anti-Communist hysteria that he rode to political prominence. McCarthy tainted the word “folk” by associating it with “Communist”. He did this by attacking the Weavers “folk” group as Communist sympathizers and summoning its most prominent member, Pete Seeger, to testify before his Committee on Un-American Activities. Overnight the word “folk” was dropped from contention. In 1953 it was no longer used in the trade press, the fan magazines, or in advertisements for country music.”Folk” was out and the word “country” was simply dropped in its place. Along with many other terms, it had been used in the trade press for some years, but by December 5 1953, the date of a forty-eight-page, advertisement-adorned special Billboard section devoted to the music, the term “country” is used virtually to the exclusion of all others…

Richard A. Peterson, Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity, University of Chicago Press, 1997, pp.198-9.

Splitters! [cont.]

I’m not the only one brooding unhealthily over split infinitives (see below, on the IRA statement). (As a friend used to say to me, many years ago, it’s a slippery slope from split infinitives to split-crotch panties.) Yesterday’s Guardian not only carried a picture of a fetching baby pygmy hippopotamus, it also had a column by Ian Mayes’ on the paper’s current thinking on the matter. It’s all terribly reasonable.


What with looking after new kittens, etc., I’ve been visiting pet shops for the first time in quite a lot of years, and was intrigued to find one shop in North Oxford selling ferret muzzles. (There’s a variety of ferret-related products, for example, here.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pet ferret in Oxford, muzzled or not, but if any of my local readers have sightings to report, or other information about the local ferret scene, please deposit them / it in the Comments.

His Foreign Jail Hell

Here’s Denis MacShane, writing in this week’s New Statesman about his brush with the Polish authorities:

“It happened in 1982 when I was picked up by the Polish police after smuggling $10,000 of European trade union funds to the underground Solidarity union. I vaguely remember tearing up and swallowing the address of the contact in Warsaw to whom I had given the cash, but my main memory is of being taken from a prison cell after a few days to meet the diplomat from the British embassy paying me a consular visit. He assured me my case was being reported on the BBC, that a good lawyer had been hired, and that if I looked polite and sorrowful, the court would not impose a jail sentence. To cheer me up he gave me the standard Foreign Office survival kit for politically incorrect Brits banged up in communist prisons. It was a small Harrods carrier bag containing three apples, a tiny jar of Marmite, a packet of Ryvita and two copies of Country Life.

I wonder what you get these days.

Seventeenth Century Polemic

Yesterday in one of the comments threads, Michael suggested naming a cat after the Manichees, and Jamie followed it up by observing (rightly) that Tertullian was a good name for a cat.

By complete coincidence, I was in the Bodleian later that afternoon reading about the early responses to Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, and came across this passage from Alexander Rosse’s Leviathan Drawn Out With A Hook, which also mentions the Manichees and Tertullian side by side:

“Such and much more like stuff and smoke, doth this Leviathan send out of his nostrils. This is the spermacaetae or spawn which the whale casteth out… a whale that hath vomited up the condemned opinion of the hereticks, and chiefly the Anthropomorphits, Sabellians, Nestorians, Saduceans, Arabeans, Tacians or Eucratits, Manichies, Mahumetans, and others; for in holding life eternal to be only on earth, he is a Cerinthian and a Mahumetan; in giving God corporeity he is an Anthropomorphit, a Manichean, a Tertullianist and an Andean: in holding the Three Persons to be distinct names and essences… he is a Sabellian, a Montanist, an Aetian, and a Priscillianist. In saying that Christ personated God the Son, he is a Nestorian, giving him two personalities, and in denying spirits he is a Saducean: in making the soul to rest with the body till the resurrection he is an Arabian; in making the soul of man corporal he is a Luciferan, by putting a period to Hell he is an Origenist: in teaching dissimulation in religion he is a Tacian or Eucratit, in making God the cause of injustice or sin he is a Manichee; in slighting Christ’s miracles he is a Jew; and in making our natural reason the word of God he is a Socinian.”

I don’t think I know what a Priscillianist is, but I’m sure it’s not a good thing to be.

UPDATE [noon]: I’m reading Culverwell this morning, and he’s being rude about Priscillianists, too, grouping them with the Gnosticks and the Manichees. But this is helpful.

Bourgeois Domesticity Achieved

At long last. Key dates:

23 January 1973: born
5 February 1994: pair-bond
19 March 2001: marry
15 October 2004: start of open-ended cohabitation experiment
27 July 2005: acquisition of kittens

Here they are.

This is the boy-kitten exploring the waste-paper basket for the first time.

This is the girl-kitten figuring out how the Venetian blind works.

I was woken up just before six this morning by the noise of small furry animals hurtling around the house very fast. They seem to have made themselves quite comfortable already, and are now hiding under a large sheet, curled up next to one another on the landing.

Names to follow. And, no doubt, more photos.