Thursday, July 17, 2008


Following on from my last post, and Frobisher's comment on it, I was reminded of one of those things that I've been meaning to blog about for some time.

A while back, I visited an old friend of mine who now lives in one of the Home Counties. He teaches religious education. Indeed, he is the head of the department. He tells me RE these days is a deeply interesting subject, encouraging the kids to think long and hard about the questions that it raises, to confront and challenge their own and other peoples' assumptions, to take arguments to bits, etc.

However, I was utterly shocked to learn that nowadays, in every textbook produced in the UK, any time Muhammed is mentioned, the letters PBUH are added after the name. (Sometimes in brackets.) It stands for Peace Be Upon Him, which is what devout Muslims say any time they utter The Name.

I have no issue with them choosing to do that, but I think it is seriously misguided, perhaps even gravely misguided, to kowtow to Muslim sensitivities by obliging everyone to carry out this act of reverence.
We don't do it for other religions. I was brought up Catholic, and in the Catholic tradition - as it is expressed in central lowland Scotland, at least - you are expected to bow your head any time you say or hear the name Jesus. (Holidays in South America are understandably not very popular with Scottish Catholics.) If schools are obliged to add PBUH after every mention of Mo, why shouldn't everyone have to follow the Catholic practice of bowing every time they hear or say the name of the Big J?

If followers of Islam expect everyone else in this country to enforce their tokens of reverence, why should Buddhists not do the same? They always refer to "Our Lord Buddha", so wouldn't it be reasonable for them to expect everyone else to say that too, or at least a variant on it (Lord Buddha, for example)?
And what about those of the Jewish faith? They are prohibited from speaking the name of god. Shouldn't we also observe that rule and never say Yahweh? (With or without the aspirated "h".) Admittedly, it's not a word that comes up often in conversation, at least not in mine, but all the same ... Perhaps in textbooks it should be written Y****h.

These religions seem to accept that it is inappropriate for them to seek to impose their religious practices, observances and small acts of piety on people who do not share their faith. Catholics (and possibly Anglicans) genuflect in their churches, but they don't really expect non-believers or those of other faiths - even other Christian faiths - to do the same.

Why do followers of Islam seem to think they can call the shots, and demand that we all follow their religious observances? More shockingly, why do the institutions of this country let them call the shots in this way, and actually go along with their demands? Freedom to practice one's religion is fine, but when you step outside of your own freedom and start encroaching upon the freedom of others by seeking to control their behaviour, you are on very dodgy ground indeed.

Is it any wonder Islam is growing in the UK? They wholeheartedly embrace an ethos of bullying people into doing what they want. How could that fail to appeal to weak-minded, disempowered, poor urban youth?

Be a bully, get your own way, gain respect. Unearned.
If you saw it in an email, you'd assume that it was spam.

Choose Islam.

Choose a faith.

Choose a set of rules.

Choose a fucking big stick for hitting people who disagree with you. Choose to be told what to eat, when to eat, how to pray, who to associate with, where to holiday, who to marry. Choose halal meat, no alcohol, homophobia, misogyny, and wilful ignorance. Choose to give your money to people who'll help you destroy the country that gave you the money in the first place along with the freedom to spend it. Choose to demand respect without earning it. Choose to disrespect everyone who doesn't agree with you. Choose robes. Choose beards. Choose little white knitted hats. Choose to dress like you live in a desert, even though you were born and raised in Leyton, Berwick or Halifax and the nearest you've ever been to sand was a school trip to Southend. Choose what the women in your life should wear. Choose sheets as clothes. Choose to hide the love of your life under a sheet because you're so fucking insecure you can't bear the thought of any other man seeing her face. Choose domestic abuse. Choose sheets that will cover it up. Choose bombs. Choose hate. Choose limitations on your freedom. Choose to undermine the freedom of others. Choose to give up your autonomy. Choose not to think for yourself. Choose not to think. Choose to feel. Choose to have your feelings dictated by someone else. Choose to be told what to do by old men seething with pathetic envy. Choose to interrupt your life several times every day for prayer. Choose to limit your consumption of literature to a single book in a language you can't read. Choose to accept everything you are told about what that book says, as long as it confirms your own prejudices. Choose not to worry about any of the complex things in life. Choose laziness. Choose not to choose. Choose voluntary brainwashing. Choose cognitive dissonance. Choose to limit your horizons. Choose suicide bombing. Choose an afterlife of virgins.

Choose Islam.

(With apologies to Irvine Welsh.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Marriage Of Inconvenience

Made-up rumour of the day:
Foppy-floppy English actor Jude Law was rumoured to be have pursued big-haired country diva Shania Twain for a possible romantic liaison. In the event, they decided not to take matters any further, because they didn't like the idea of the children being brought up under Shania Law.

And in other news ...

On a not very related note, I am working on a parody of tonsurial apiarist Amy Winehouse's hit single Rehab. It seems to me that a growing minority in the UK are using their claimed religious beliefs as an excuse for intolerance, and using religion for political / personal-politic gain and power-playing. Like the teacher who wore a full veil when teaching tiny little children to communicate. Ridiculous. I suspect that many of these people wouldn't actually enjoy a life lived fully under the banner of their belief system, and if push came to shove, they would chose the freedoms of Britain over the harshness of scripture-based systems of "justice". This parody is aimed at them. It's a work in progress, but here's the first couple of lines:
They tried to make me go to Riyadh
But I say no, no, no.
I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Amazing Appearing Pounds

People often ask me whether I can make money appear. If I'm performing in a paid gig at the time, I laugh politely. If it's not in the context of a paid gig, and I'm a bit more at liberty to display my genuine response to such a question, I pour scorn on their lack of originality and usually try to encourage everyone in the room to point and laugh mockingly.

(I don't do that when my Lovely Husband™ makes his gag about doing something about the dishes using magic. He says it every time, but then he has seen the tricks hundreds of times, and for some of them, knows every line as well as I do.)

Obviously, if any magician could make money simply appear, we wouldn't feel the need to ingratiate ourselves into sometimes charmless company and attempt to raise a smile, an eyebrow, or better get a gasp of amazement. As Jerry Sadowitz once memorably put it, "If I could do this for real, I'd be lying on a beach in the Bahamas with fifteen shades of lip gloss working their way up and down my cock."

Yet I noticed that I have been able to make pounds appear. Oh yes. Every since I came back to the UK in fact. I was looking through some photos last night (or possibly the early hours of this morning) and was shocked at how jowly I've become in the space of 3 years.
Let's see.
The picture on the left, of your author sporting a bow tie and a somewhat "I've just shat my pants" smile* was taken towards the end of February 2006, more than 6 months after I got back. (I was at the civil parternship of some very lovely friends in Cambridge.) The picture on the right was taken a couple of weeks ago, just before we took the father of my Lovely Husband™ to the airport at the end of his European Tour. There's a lot more of me in the second one. I need to sort that out.

Made up quote of the day:
"He tried speed dating to no avail, but switching from speed to rohypnol made a huge difference."

*I hadn't.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Court Mayhem

Where we live, on the countrified outskirts of Olde Londone Towne, it's peaceful and idyllic (as long as we ignore the queens shagging in the trees just down the road from us).

So, I'm a bit concerned about a recent development. Middle-aged women who have siblings have taken to having lots of parties in the court where we make our abode. I for one am deeply concerned about this rise in aunty social behaviour.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Health And Safety

During my last contract, I was obliged to complete a health and safety assessment at work. What a complete waste of time.

It provided me with no new information, only confirmation that the whole health and safety industry serves two purposes, neither of them remotely aligned with the purpose they claim to serve. Those two purposes are job creation and arse-covering. The former serves those who work within the health and safety industry. The latter serves the employer.

The course assessment at the end of the online course that I was obliged to do produced a list of changes that I needed to make to improve my work environment. If for any reason I failed to implement these changes, I would be in no position to sue the employer because, hey, they had made the appropriate recommendations. Never mind that in most work places, it isn't possible for me to set up a desk to conform to all the rules.

One problem that I have with all of this is the implicit sexism within all the courses. They go to great pains to ensure that if you're little, and your legs dangle, then there is a way you can still get into the officially recommended position at a desk. They make no such provision for those of us who are taller. If I adjust my seat to the recommended height, I can't get my legs under my desk. I've only ever once worked in a place which had desks of adjustable height, and most people didn't bother adjusting them.

I say implicitly sexist because a lot of the "information" on these courses is very obviously based on years old, outdated research from an era when the only people sitting at the desk working a keyboard were female secretaries. Hence the emphasis on what to do if you're too short (women are generally shorter than men), and little or no emphasis on what to do if you are too tall, since the men are always away from their desks doing the real work of business and enterprise. Apparently.