05 Nov

Credo quia absurdum

Every newspaper and magazine should follow the example of the Spectator and appoint its own in-house surreal comedian.

Although Matthew Parris begins a recent article by misquoting Lewis Carroll – the White Queen said she could believe six impossible things before breakfast – he proceeds to outdo Carroll in the production of things bizarre and fantastic. His article is titled Why I intend to become an addict. That Spectator piece should be made compulsory reading in all our state secondary schools. You’ll see why in a minute. But enough preamble, let the great man speak for himself…

“Heroin, by all accounts, is the big one and for decades I’ve wanted to experience addiction to that drug…

“I did have one wholly abortive attempt at getting hooked on nicotine patches. My mistake was to attempt a shortcut and apply patches that were classified as the equivalent of 30 cigarettes a day. I put one of these patches onto (sic) my lower back, forgot all about it, went out to dinner – and ended up literally crawling to my host’s sofa, unable to stand, lying there with my heart thumping, ripping off the patch, passing out, and not waking until dawn…

“A friend tells me he knows a non-smoker who…tried e-cigarettes and has become seriously addicted to them. Sounds promising…”

“And how often would I need to vape in order to let myself effectively but gently into a possible addiction?

“People who are not addicts should try it and report. Sooner or later, and one way or another, I intend to.”

Parris’ virtuosic feel for narcissistic farce is beyond all comment or criticism. Give him the Spike Milligan Award for Surpassing Daftness.

04 Nov

Le Nozze di Figaro

It’s easy to feel up to one’s ears in politics, so well described by Eliot as “endless palaver.”

Better to think about Mozart and particularly the miracle that is Figaro. It nearly didn’t get composed at all, for Beaumarchais’ play on which it is based was banned. Mozart told Lorenzo da Ponte that he had no hope of getting the ban lifted, whereupon Da Ponte said, “Leave it to me.” As court poet, he had access to the emperor, a civilised man,  a music-lover and a devotee of Mozart. The emperor reminded Da Ponte that the play was banned, but the poet replied, “It won’t be seditious in our hands.”

And so it came to be written and at great speed – Da Ponte recording that often the verses he delivered to Mozart were returned fully composed the same day!

Mozart was overjoyed by Da Ponte’s words, for Da Ponte was no mere rhymer but a genuine poet with the poet’s facility in assonance, dissonance and above all rhythm. Any hack composer could have made something out of Da Ponte’s marvellous productions. In Mozart’s hands they became an indissoluble masterpiece.

In my view there is nothing in opera – not even Don Giovanni or Cosi  and certainly not the vulgar, strangulated hernia operas of the 19th century – that even comes near the greatness of Figaro which is a torrent of wit, melody and human sympathy. On the face of it, Figaro is a popular tale of a servant getting the better of his bumptious, bullying master – below stairs characters outwitting the toffs. No wonder the emperor was nervous about its appearance, a mere two years before the French Revolution and all the European gentry running scared that the whole continent would go the same way as France. No wonder also that aristocrats’ subscriptions to Mozart’s hugely popular piano concerts in Vienna fell away dramatically at this time.

Figaro is packed with glorious solo arias, but it is the ensemble singing which is truly remarkable: six or more players all interlocking their themes with the most astonishing verve, clarity and sureness of touch. The counterpoint of the various moods and motives are the currents of life itself. In these parts, Figaro hints at the same transcendence we find in St Matthew Passion. At this level of musical understanding – coupled with Mozart’s unmatched acquaintance with and sympathy for the ways of the human heart – there is no distinction to be made between religious and secular music.

All great music is religious.

Non piu andrai was Mozart’s favourite tune. He repeats it in the second act of Don Giovanni  and he would often, as a party piece, improvise sublime variations on it at the piano. The English soprano Nancy Storace was the first Susanna. By this time she had damaged her voice by attempting strenuous coloratura exercises as a young girl and Mozart chose her as much for her vivacious  acting as for her singing. None of the characters is idealised; there is no caricature. All are flawed, often mischievous and occasionally malevolent. But there is not one who is unlovable.

So we have to conclude that Figaro is politics after all: but politics in the same sense that The Divine Comedy is politics.

Like St Matthew Passion, Da Ponte’s and Mozart’s Figaro is about forgiveness.

There are times when this sublime confluence of love and beauty is too much to take.

02 Nov

The jihadi chapelgoers

An old man was arrested at the airport last week. His crime? He had been asked by security to remove his shoes and he replied, “Why? I’m not a Muslim.” The security guard called the police who turned up in force and plonked down heavily upon the non-Muslim. After several hours questioning, taking mouth swabs and general disdain, they offered him a caution which the man refused, electing for trial. His defence will no doubt be that, since nearly all recent terrorist attacks featuring aeroplanes were perpetrated by Muslims, it was highly unlikely that this non-Muslim posed any threat.

Indeed the police were doing their job properly. It would be quite wrong and, my goodness! “racist” to arrest only Muslims on suspicion of conspiracy to mount a terrorist attack. I have been doing some intensive undercover research of my own and I have come up with some alarming discoveries…

There is a sect in every town in Britain known as “Methodists.” Its members, while trying to pass themselves off innocently enough as a “church,” are potentially more dangerous than any Muslim fanatic. Like the devotees of Islam, they are teetotal – always a sure sign that something is wrong. Also, as with Muslims, they have a strange attitude towards their womenfolk. The so called “chapel deacons” make the women put on funny hats and sit at the front of the “chapel” on a balcony where they are formed into something called a “choir” which lets out fearful noises throughout the strange rituals  performed morning and evening every Sunday. At each of these supposed “services” the same deacons go round the “chapel” collecting money to finance the Methodist jihadists.

The women also meet during the week – it might be a Tuesday afternoon or a Wednesday evening – in a place known as the “schoolroom,” which is clearly some form of terrorist training camp. This secret military planning session is code-named “The Women’s Bright Hour.” Dastardly terrorist plots are being hatched even as we speak under cover of tea and biscuits, or perhaps even a piece of cake. And deadly poisons are manufactured and packed into jars labelled “marmalade” and “jam.”

Camouflage clothing for the Methodist mujahadeen is collected and allocated at a secret gathering known as the “jumble sale.”

On Saturday nights there is an event for the hard core jihadists known as a “Social.” This is a sensual, quasi-orgiastic occasion featuring a lewd performance known as “musical chairs.” While the pianist plays, men and women cavort and scramble to sit on one another’s knees. Shrill, almost demonic, laughter is frequently heard.

Don’t be misled by the innocuous appearances.  Some of these Methodists are so extreme in their fanaticism that they even refer to themselves as “Primitive.”

The Methodist children are indoctrinated and radicalised at events such as “the outing” and “the summer trip.”

And every year in the autumn, there is a terrifying primitive ceremony called “the harvest festival” when there is wild, banshee-like wailing of “hymns.” Ritual foods are presented and, following weird incantations by the “Minister” – who wears a white collar in the forlorn hope of passing himself off as a clergyman – these foods are distributed to injured jihadists in  the hospitals.

That old man arrested at the airport was no Muslim – but did the police check him for Methodism? 

02 Nov

2007 + 16 = 2023

Here is a charming tale and, when I’ve told it, I’ll ask a few questions…

A jailed terrorist who wrote a letter from a British prison proclaiming jihadis as heroes is trying to avoid deportation from the UK on human rights grounds. Internet jihadi Younes Tsouli, 31 – who was once described as Al Qaeda’s most influential cyber-terrorist – was jailed for 16 years in 2007 for distributing bomb-making instructions as well as beheading videos on the internet.

Tsouli, who called himself ‘Terrorist007’, was posting the material for Al Qaeda in Iraq.

He was released from prison last November, but re-arrested when prison officials found a copy of an Al Qaeda magazine in his cell.

A hearing at the Old Bailey last week cleared Tsouli of unlawfully possessing the material, and he was due to be deported immediately back to his native Morocco, but he has appealed against his deportation on human rights grounds, applying for asylum to the UK under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act, which states no one should be subjected to ‘torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’.

It is believed that Tsouli had been active in the global cyber-jihadi scene since he moved to the UK to study IT at a London college in 2001. This cyber-terrorist used to hack into respectable websites and use them as hosts for videos including the beheading of British hostage Ken Bigley and Americans Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg. Tsouli set up a website called YouBombIt which he described as a ‘platform just like YouTube to post videos of bombings of Coalition forces’ in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He has set up another called DeadZionists, and was in the process of setting up a third called Islamic Terrorism, when police raided his basement flat in Shepherd’s Bush in 2005.

First a general question: Many Muslims hate the shambolic, despotisms from which they emerge to come and live in Europe. Why do they wish to come to a continent whose people, by Muslims’ own lights,  are decadents and infidels?

Then, when they do arrive here, why do they attempt to turn European countries into copies of the disgusting places from which they have fled?

Specifically, why does Tsouli want to stay in a country whose way of life he despises so much that he incites his co-religionists to destroy it?

And what degrees of psychopathic cowardice lead him to appeal to the European judiciary which he holds in contempt?

But my chief puzzlement concerns the fact that a despicable barbarian such as Tsouli, jailed for 16 years in 2007, should have been let out of prison after serving only six years of his sentence.

2007 + 16 = 2023

Send him back to Morocco Mrs May. They will know how to deal with him over there.