The A-List: Louise Bagshawe

Chick-lit writer Louise Bagshawe takes pride in her work: “I write books that have no literary merit whatsoever”. But there’s more to Bagshawe than crappy writing: the claim is often made that she was “the youngest-ever contributor to The Tablet“, my goodness, and she’s also a noted economic analyst, believing, for example, that “With his tax cuts he [i.e. President Bush] has single-handedly pulled America out of the Clinton Recession”.

New Country

It’s all very nice waking up and finding out that there’s another European country out there. But was the referendum result affected by the proximity of the vote to the Eurovision Song Contest (which I thought this year was excellent)? There seem to be both push factors and pull factors at work here: on the one hand, here and here; on the other hand – and more ominously for the rest of us – I’m afraid it does look as if Montenegrin independence will contribute towards an unbreakable Balkans / Former Yugoslav lock on the contest for the foreseeable future, given the patterns of regional block-voting we’ve seen in recent years.

The A-List: Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones

Possibly Britain’s only black farmer, and a man who “makes Lenny Henry seem like a shy introvert”, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones has a terrific website at and even has a blog, though it hasn’t been updated for a while. Nancy Banks-Smith has more. Certainly the most – or perhaps the only – impressive A-Listee I’ve considered so far, at least on the evidence of five minutes with Google (which, let’s face it, is all that most of these people deserve).

The A-List: Julie Rook

Julie Rook is a councillor in Deal with a poor prose style and an interest in stamping out anti-social behaviour. (She’s the local “Cabinet Member for Citizenship”.) When the local cops tried to fine some poor kid £80 for saying the words “fuck all” in a conversation with a friend that took place within the hearing of a police officer, Councillor Rook was asked about the incident. Forgetting to say the words, “This is outrageous, whatever happened to civil liberties?”, she instead came out with the weaselly, “Swearing and abusive behaviour certainly is not normal behaviour and I feel it should never be used in a public place.” Mr Walker sensibly opted not to pay the fine and to have his day in court, there was a bit of publicity, and – surprise, surprise – the charge was dropped.

Happy Birthday, John Stuart Mill!

200 today…

When proper allowance has been made for geographical exigencies, another more purely moral and social consideration offers itself. Experience proves that it is possible for one nationality to merge and be absorbed in another: and when it was originally an inferior and more backward portion of the human race the absorption is greatly to its advantage. Nobody can suppose that it is not more beneficial to a Breton, or a Basque of French Navarre, to be brought into the current of the ideas and feelings of a highly civilised and cultivated people—to be a member of the French nationality, admitted on equal terms to all the privileges of French citizenship, sharing the advantages of French protection, and the dignity and prestige of French power—than to sulk on his own rocks, the half-savage relic of past times, revolving in his own little mental orbit, without participation or interest in the general movement of the world. The same remark applies to the Welshman or the Scottish Highlander as members of the British nation.

More sensible Mill Birthday Blogging over here.

UPDATE [3pm]: Apparently my great-great-grandfather preached a sermon against the Times’s hatchet-job of an obituary of JSM in 1873. I wonder if I’ll be able to chase down a copy. (Where do you go for Victorian sermons, anyway?)