It was ten years ago today that I first noticed there was something fishy about Johann Hari’s journalism–a post that was cited by the Deterritorial Support Group when they decisively went to work on destroying his reputation in 2011.
For National Poetry Day, I’ve dredged much of the #chloesmithpoetry out from the depths of my Twitter timeline to archive it here.
People may remember the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Chloe Smith MP, who appeared on Newsnight on 26 June 2012 to defend the Government’s recently-announced delay to the introduction of a planned increase in fuel duty. It is widely reckoned that she didn’t do especially well in the interview–the words “car crash” sprang to many minds, which judged her to be hopelessly out of her depth. Criticism was spread around, to be sure: some found Jeremy Paxman’s interviewing style objectionable; others–well, everyone, actually–thought it cowardly of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, to send the most junior minister he could find into the lion’s mouth, rather than defend the U-turn on television himself.
But in a small corner of Twitter the following day, some of us were more struck by the way in which English literature graduate Chloe Smith’s words lent themselves so easily to poetry, and we started experimenting with the literary form made possible by reflecting on the transcript of the interview in the context of a strict 140-character word limit.
So many thanks to Eleanor Crawford, whose marvellous idea it was, and to the others who joined in. It made me happy for days.
- el_crawford: They fall across and in different ways/ And that figure will progress, if you like…/that figure is evolving somewhat. #ChloeSmithPoetry Wed Jun 27 09:34
- el_crawford: Two roads diverged in a wood and I-/I took the one less travelled by/And that has helped households and businesses. #ChloeSmithPoetry Wed Jun 27 09:35
- el_crawford: For reasons which are interesting in themselves/the figures are interesting in themselves. #ChloeSmithPoetry Wed Jun 27 09:36
- chrisbrooke: It’s valuable to help / Real people in this way / And I do think that is valued / By people who drive. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 13:06
- el_crawford: I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox/and which you were probably saving for households and businesses/Forgive me #ChloeSmithPoetry Wed Jun 27 13:11
- chrisbrooke: It’s an aggregate figure / If you look at the data / It’s an aggregate figure / And I think that’s what’s important here. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 13:47
- chrisbrooke: On Tuesday’s Newsnight / A slogan was unfurled: / Jeremy, I don’t think many things / Are certain in this world. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 13:49
- thhamilton: In front of Parliament we revealed to Parliament / As is right and proper, by the way, to Parliament / Help #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 14:07
- chrisbrooke: When I am not sure what to think / I find it helps to say / “The figure is evolving somewhat / As per the data today.” #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 14:16
- woodscolt79: We are the hollow men/We are the stuffed men/Leaning together/Listening to families and businesses. Alas! #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 14:19
- chrisbrooke: They do relate / To rather one-off factors / Specifically in terms / Of when some payments were made. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 14:20
- chrisbrooke: I woke up in this morning / And know actually that some of my constituents will really value not having to pay… [etc] #chloesmithblues Wed Jun 27 14:23
- chrisbrooke: In a world that we’re facing / Where things are very hard / You have to do what you can / In these hard times. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 14:28
- chrisbrooke: Things fall apart / The centre cannot hold / They fall across / And in different ways. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 14:32
- chrisbrooke: We had a collective discussion / Of that in due course / Although I can’t tell you / The ins and the outs. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 14:47
- chrisbrooke: Households and businesses / Families and businesses / Households and businesses / And families. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 15:02
- ejhchess: It doesn’t matter if you’re shite / You’ll get support from Michael White #chloesmithpoetry #sortof Wed Jun 27 15:20
- chrisbrooke: As Chloe Smith was fumbling with fuel duty / Old Aaro, watching, thought, “You gorgeous beauty.” #chloesmithpoetry https://t.co/RYsfh1IK Wed Jun 27 15:24
- chrisbrooke: The question being asked in May / Was about full cancellation /But as you’ll be aware today / We’re talking about deferral #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 15:39
- chrisbrooke: That is of interest perhaps / In a different conversation / But the fact is here / We are sticking to the overall plan. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 16:05
- chrisbrooke: It’s not just a Westminster Village / Story, Jeremy / It’s real money / In real people’s pockets. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 16:12
- el_crawford: @chrisbrooke I find her turn of phrase Audenesque. Almost chillingly so. Wed Jun 27 16:15
- chrisbrooke: As a Minister / In the Treasury / I’ve been involved in the discussions for some time / As a Minister in the Treasury #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 16:15
- chrisbrooke @el_crawford Yes: some of the rhythms of her speech esp. at the end of sentences & the partial repetitions are very twentieth-century verse. Wed Jun 27 16:17
- chrisbrooke: It’s not that, I’m afraid, Jeremy. It’s not that I’m afraid, Jeremy. It’s not that. I’m afraid, Jeremy. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 16:22
- chrisbrooke: Mortal, guilty, but to me / Rightly what we seek to use for the credibility of our fiscal plan. #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 16:34
- chrisbrooke: I think the point to be made out of that / And out of what’s been said today / Is that it’s important to do what you can #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 16:44
- microlambert: I love you Twitter, because you did this: #chloesmithpoetry Wed Jun 27 20:08
Very faithful readers will remember Paul “The Thinker” Richards, who lit up the world of blogs in 2003-4. He recently tried to become Paul “The Police Commissioner” Richards, but unfortunately the Sussex Labour Party failed to pick him as its candidate. Still, his propaganda was distributed along the South Coast, and since I seem to be posting things my brother has sent to me, here’s a copy of his election leaflet:
Policy Exchange is basically a parody of what a think-thank is supposed to be — the proof of that is its decision to have the laughable Anthony Browne in a senior position for quite a while now — but people say that it’s fairly influential on Conservative party “thinking”, so perhaps we should pay attention. So here’s a link to a page on its new report, which you can download, that recommends that Oxford (current population, c.150,000) should grow by an order of magnitude or so, with a million new homes being built around the city.
Since it’s the Conservatives on the County Council who have been opposing a very modest urban extension of Oxford on land south of Grenoble Road (a mere four thousand houses), a right-wing U-turn of quite staggering proportions may be on the cards. Alternatively, people may decide that it’s best, all things considered, to ignore pretty much everything that Policy Exchange has to say.
In other Raj-related news, people in the UK can now buy his excellent book Stuffed and Starved in paperback, and the US edition has been published over there, too. Buy it and read it, if you haven’t already. (Even the Daily Mail liked it!)
This is an extraordinarily silly idea – now scrapped, sadly – but apparently there were plans to fill up a boat with philosophers and one or two others and send it round the world in order to… well, it’s not really clear. Help the UK redefine its relationship with world cultures, or something. Wow.
Melanie Phillips recently sought to outwit the Naziometer, first by moving her blogpage over here, and, second, by not mentioning Nazis for a week or two, and thereby keeping us in suspense as to whether our technology was able to cope with the transition. But it is, and it’s now recording a healthy “four” thanks to this post.
The Chris Lightfoot Memorial Naziometer (see sidebar) was recording pretty low values over the Summer. It was zero for quite a while, and although things have been improving recently, I’ve only been noticing scores hovering around the three / four mark. So I’m thrilled to report that it’s hit sixteen!, which may very well be an all-time high, thanks entirely to this fine post.
Stephen Pollard isn’t just an expert on cycling (“the team element is missing”, etc.). He also has sophisticated opinions on postwar European cinema. Here he is, for example, discussing the films of Ingmar Bergman. It’s already been labelled “the dumbest thing I’ve ever read” by one of the cinéphiles over at the Criterion Forum.
I should say that I’ve not seen much Bergman: Wild Strawberries once upon a time, and lengthy snippets of The Seventh Seal. So it’s just, just possible that I might agree with Pollard were I to see the rest of the oeuvre (which I’d like to do). But given that he lumps Bergman in with James Joyce and Harrison Birtwistle — my favourite novelist and one of my favourite living composers respectively — somehow I doubt that he and I are going to end up seeing eye to eye on this one, as on so much else. [Yo, bro.]
UPDATE, UPDATE: The same brother reminds me I’ve also seen Bergman’s Magic Flute (and it’s stupid of me to forget this, as I’ve got the DVD at home), which is just fantastic. And it probably has the best Pantomime Walrus in cinema history. YouTube clips over here, though I’m not sure they’ve got the PW in there.
2d UPDATE: And here he is, the darling:
[images nicked from over here]