Monday, November 12, 2007

From The Ridiculous To The Sublime

Health And Safety and Cats

Tom Mullarkey of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents ,is distancing himself from health and Safety madness today . ” It is seen as something that restricts your life rather than helping you to live fully and successfully” he says .We are almost into Alice through the looking glass territory when he commends risk in children`s play . I am of the opinion that the vast majority of therapy , for example , is actually harmful and there is some evidence to back it up but to remove a strut once its in place is a difficult business ; hence the ‘controlling’ ratchet will always tend to crank up. The playgrounds close, and children resort to the building site.That wasn`t supposed to happen..

Life is like a herd of cats and the more you shout at them the less likely they are to cooperate. Are you listening Labour droogs! Market and local solutions are the studiously positioned pot of Whiskas and soft imprecation. At least you have some chance.

Law of Unintended Consequences

At the dark place of my Dickensian employment we sell a product to keep our clients safe from Employers Liability related Prosecution . It is a web based package that costs little and obliges all employees to watch modules on ,say ,“Picking Up Paper Clips The Safe Way”, and then answer a few questions . This they can do anywhere and the system logs their progress and the employer’s requests. In effect , it passes the onus for ensuring safety back from the Employer to the employees with a little cheap tailored IT. The client has less reason than he did before to attend to his employee’s safety by purchasing a Product that concentrates on ticking the right boxes. As ever the law of unintended consequences in the one constant. Here Kitty Kitty !!!

Heath and Safety and Bonfires

In llfracocmbe Devon 3000 people turned up in 2006 to watch a big screen virtual bonfire.

Our Superintendent Parrot tried to stop the denizens of Lewes ,my marvellous new home, from throwing Bangers during their famous Bonfire Night extravaganza. He was resisted, and somewhat dis-obliged to find himself portrayed by the Commercial Square Society as a 12 foot effigy with a banger stuffed up his arse. . Mr. Parrot says he will “Take the joke in the spirit it was intended”...That is because he has no choice .Down in Lewes they are not yet accustomed to doing as they are told by any jumped up bossy boots in a uniform( expect for pleasure of course)60,000 attended this fantastic celebration of the free spirit this year. They have to pull up the Parking meters to let the marchers through...

Then There Were Adults

Health and safety is only one of the many ways in which we are prevented from Growing up. From serving suggestions..” The Haricot bean sits beautifully on grilled bread..” ..., to notices not to wear stilettos climbing across cattle grids .... The tragic middle aged still ”Clubbing “, collude in the process. How different it was when my grandfather went off to War and was one of the few to survive the Somme .( He was shot in the shoulder ) This weekend I attended a Remembrance day parade and wept listening to Nimrod played at the Cenotaph.


In the evening we watched the rather wonderful “My Boy Jack” about Rudyard Kipling’s efforts to get his son into the war and bitter regret when his career consisted of a fifty yard dash towards getting hid face blown off. I love Rudyard Kipling and this was a magnificent drama in which Daniel Radcliff jejune moustache perfectly signalled the abrupt manhood of the day. The drama was universal in that it portrayed to collision of the Edwardian world of romantic Imperialism with the brutal reality of the trenches . Rudyard Kipling never recovered that boisterous confidence he had evinced, like so many Victorians Paradoxically his late sometimes elegiac stories are perhaps the best he ever wrote .

Paxman Gets It Wrong

It is the grinding of gears between ages that gives Wilfred Owens poetry its potent pathos. Paxman missed the point entirely by concentrating only on the 'gritty reality' . Owen`s work is docu-drama , but it is much more. Owen was not a sophisticated enough man not be immersed in the romantic poetic assumptions of his day . Swinburne , now largely forgotten was his exciting future ,the fractured visions of Ezra Pound , Elliot, Picasso and Schonberg were undreamt of.
So , still a boy in his art, he saw agonised futility but had only a language tending towards heroism and sublimity. It is this collision of form and the content that lends an unbearable poignancy to his verse. The beauty that this war shattered ,is always present .

Are we still scarred by this war and its continuation from 39 to 45? Has this experience of “Growing Up” of facing reality so horrified us that we have retreated into a permanent childhood ? Perhaps its understandable. Noone who has ever paused at a village War Memorial can fail to be moved by the last stanza of ....The Send-off

Shall they return to beatings of great bells
In wild trainloads?
A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,
May creep back, silent, to still village wells
Up half-known roads.

Life Goes On

Albert James Newman survived the Somme a comrade dragged him back from Noman`s Land in the night. He lived a troubled life in some pain until a relatively early death . He went on to have six children. His son John Newman , went on to have three children one of which is yours truly.


Little Black Sambo said...

Most thought-provoking remarks about W. Owen. Thank you.

Mulligan said...

Don't knock our Health and Safety Executive. Sky News viewers watching the Stratford fire were probably saved from serious injury by their invaluable advice "do not breathe in the fumes".

God knows what sort of Olympics we'll have when they decide jumping 18' on a flimsy pole, or throwing heavy objects is just too risky in this day age. Perhaps we'll fly in top athletes from round the world to decide the medals on the latest playstation.

Philipa said...

I couldn't watch 'My boy jack' as it seemed to portray the incredibly arrogant, naieve and stupid ambition of men of that era particularly, now gladly outgrown, the attitudes PH seems nostalgic for and to romanticise in his ridiculous assertions of grey war ships and smell of diesel oil that actually aren't apparent near where he lived in fact. For Kipling to 'pull strings' to get his son in that situation was stupid stupid stupid. If I was his wife I would have smacked him in the mouth so hard. There is nothing glorious about war and those who are half blind shouldn't be volounteered for it. It's not noble, it's stupid.

If you see my blog you will see a Wilfred Owen sonnet I've read recently; 'Hospital Barge at cerisy' and I've also been readin 'February Afteroon' by Edward Thomas which ends in the lines "And God still sits aloft in the array, That we have wrought him, stone-deaf and stone-blind." Hmn.

Philipa said...

Hey, glad the Newmans made it :-)

Mulligan said...


With today's attitudes you're probably right, but remember at the time women would approach civilian males in the street and give them white feathers. Also I expect that with limited news coverage and propaganda the picture of battle envisaged by the people at home was far removed from the horrible reality.

Additionally, in his defence, he did make exceedingly good cakes.

Anonymous said...

Re: Wilfred Owen. Good point, beautifully made.

I would only qualify it by mentioning a precursor of Owen by three or four centuries who was the greatest and most sophisticated writer of them all:

"honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honour set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is honour?
A word. What is in that word honour? What is that honour? Air - a trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died a Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. 'Tis insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I'll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon - and so ends my catechism."

(Falstaff. Henry VI Part I. Shakespeare)

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

Was your grandfather the Albert John Newman born 1883 in Stratford, who's father was Henry John Newman, born Stratford 1853, who's father was James Newman, born Mile End in 1808?

Auntie Flo'

Newmania said...

Thyanks LBS ..I did get back to you on Jejune by the way..belatedly .

Brilliant TB ! ... where did you get that from ..

Newmania said...

Thyanks LBS ..I did get back to you on Jejune by the way..belatedly .

Brilliant TB ! ... where did you get that from ..

Newmania said...

I found it hard to watch fror somewhat different reasons Phillipa. You are right endlessly living in the past is stuopid and much has chnaged. AS I used to say to schoolboy lefties,,...if you like it so much try living in it ...(think of the dentistry.)
But if there have been gains there have also been losses, amongst these is courage and a sense eof duty.Things re not uniformly "Getting bettter"

Actually Peter Hitchens wrote one of tbe best things I have seen from him in along time puncturing the Enich Powell myth with refernce to the "Rivers Of Blood " Speech. If you are gping to talk about black people pushing excrement through the door at night then you must expect to be cast out .

Other things you say do not matter and the fact it may have happened is entirely irrelevant .

Newmania said...

P will hi to your blog ...sorry have been busy its always great fun.

Flo- I am besotted with Shakespeare and regard him as the cowning glory of England if not the world . It was only when I read what came before and after i realise the modern man is almost unimaginable without him

( Good Grammar school boy of course....would have been lost today)

PS don`t know H4 actually thanks for that

PPS I don`t think so Flo although its not impossible actually . My father`s name is John Henry Newman. I will certainly investigate thrilling

Old BE said...

Great post.

The clouds do appear to be lifting - alternative worldviews are becoming acceptable to air even on the BBC these days. The plates are shifting, Mr N.

Anonymous said...

I'm a local historian, n, with a subscription for the censuses and other historic data online. Brilliant prog, can produce a basic family history in 10 minutes.

There are a couple of possibles for your grandpa, one in West Ham (1890, I think, need to check) one in Worcs, another in Staffs. If you have a birth date and place I may be able to find his ancestry for you.

There's more information on these people too - wives, profession, residence, children, but that's maybe too confidential to post online.

Auntie Flo'

Newmania said...

Thanks ED value your opinion...Flo sadly no he was born in 1887 in East End ...near the Westham Football Pitch.

We did get a letter from Long Longford confirming a distant relation actully when

Philipa said...

N - "Other things you say do not matter and the fact it may have happened is entirely irrelevant ." - er... excuse me? Can you clarify that point please?

Philipa said...

Oh and by the way, courage and a sense of duty haven't died - my father fought in WW2 and my brother-in-law fought in the gulf war and I remember sitting with my beloved sister waiting for news of his ship. However, I think Travis Bickle is spot on with the attitudes in those days born of romantic notions rather than truth.

You know perfectly well that IMHO Peter Hitchens has written some great stuff but I stand by my point - it wasn't a general slur on his work of which, again IMHO, his foreign correspondent stuff is excellent. In his columns however, and again speaking generally if I must, he can appear almost a parody of himself. Which, in the tapestry of modern journalism, still provides a colourful variety. Nice ass though.

Anonymous said...

What the "elf- 'n-safety people are doing to us, for their utopian reasons, is a small, concentration-camp-guard-part of our especial punishment (as the British) for getting free early enough and powerfully enough, to be able to try and teach the entire world how to live as Man should.

Our values are better than theirs; a few of us still know that they know that we know this, and they hate us for it, and they want to extinguish our culture and memory.

Extinction is perfectly OK (except ask a greenazi!) if it's lefites doing it to the Anglosphere's cultural and philosphical heritage. It's also OK for them, although mostly atheists that they are, to make common cause with aggressive scary prosecutors of a pre-capitalist-dark-age-desert-warlord's survival-guide-sold-as-a-religion, and written for regions where there is nothing except sand and ancient Christian and Jewish kingdoms and tribes.

Wish I'd seen "My Boy Jack". I try to give Kipling to my students, but they've never heard of him and ask only "is it in the syllabus?"

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