22 Apr

We are the coprophagists

“Kylie and Shaggy help the Queen celebrate her ninety-second birthday.” said the headline. This was at a “concert” at the Royal Albert Hall. I must say I feel sorry for Prince Philip who, recovering from a hip operation, was unable to be there, for I know how thrilled he would have been to hear Shaggy and Sting “sing” some reggae “music” called Don’t Make Me Wait

(It’s so tiresome, isn’t it, having to put so many words inside quotation marks these days?)

Prince Philip’s comments on this cultural event would surely have been the highlight of the evening.

Cui bono? As the Roman said – which, being very roughly translated, means “For whose f*****g good?” Surely it was a doubtful benefit to Her Majesty to keep her out of bed so late into the evening

Perhaps Shaggy and Sting might have obliged the Queen with an encore, Her Majesty joining in ad libitum from the royal box: Don’t Make Me Wait Up All Night

I can’t believe the Queen liked it very much. We’ve all known for a long time that her taste is for military bands and songs from the shows – with a bit of Elgar or Parry thrown in for special occasions.

I must confess, too, that I’m not an expert on the sort of “entertainment” on offer at the Royal Albert Hall last night – which was merely one more example of the sort of “entertainment” which goes on semper et ubique these days. But I am fortunate to have a friend in the vastly learned commentator on these cultural matters, Alexander Boot. I don’t think Alex will begrudge my quoting one of his recent preview articles on what used to be the classical music scene. I refer of course to the coming season of BBC Promenade Concerts of which Alex gives us the flavour. Here he quotes an extract from a “song” by one of this year’s “artistes” Princess Nokia

“Talk shit, we can cast spells// Long weaves, long nails// Corn rows, pig tails// Baby fathers still in jail// Good witches, I f*** with// Bad bitches, we run s***// 4 bitches, 4 corners// North, East, West, South shit// Good witches, I f*** with// Hopped off my broomstick// Witchcraft, bitch craft// Light magic, it’s nothing.”

I wonder if Princess Nokia’s “concert” will be one of those attended by the Queen? Perhaps Price Philip will be recovered by then and be able to accompany Her Majesty and, in his customary style, show his approval also?

While I’m on the subject of the Proms, these will also highlight someone called Seprpentwithfeet who performs “Pagan Gospel” and the Buena Vista Social Club with wall-to-wall reggae.

I’m sure Sir Henry Wood will be looking down benignly on these improvements we have made on the concert series he created in 1895.

Please don’t be hard on me. I have no objection to pop concerts – so long as my attendance is not required. English people have always had a broad back and we can tolerate a bit of rubbish around the edges here and there, now and again. But to pretend it is the real thing is beyond satire. To corrupt an occasion of State such as the Queen’s birthday or to debauch a 123 years old classical music series is verging on blasphemous and certainly an act of civilizational suicide.

But we can expect nothing else. As Gertrud Himmelfarb said, “The counter culture is the culture now.” The barbarians are not at the gates but inside the city and parading their barbarity throughout our formerly great institutions: the concert halls, the opera houses, the theatres, the “book” shops and – leading them all – the churches. The Ring cycle in a German power station, Macbeth under the, Nazis, Peter Sellars’ Don Giovanni in a New York skyscraper apartment. “Music” now means only cacophany, bedlam and pandemonium 

Blasphemous? Yes, I’m afraid so. For what we are affirming in all this filth is, “Evil, be thou my good.”

What words can describe our “culture”?

Try these: “…like unto whited sepulchres which indeed appear beautiful outward but are within full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

20 Apr

“It’s all my fault…but I’m not to blame!”

Friday began well. I thought for a moment I had caught a contemporary theologian saying something sensible. It was an article in Church Times by Ian McFarland, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. He began most promisingly: “On Original Sin I’m pretty Augustinian.”

Then he spoilt it all:

“One important reformation of the doctrine I affirm is the irreducible character of human agency. Calling people victims of sin, while intended to be helpful, can actually undermine their healing process, which depends on them claiming their own agency. Of course, this raises the worry that people will blame themselves for the harm they have suffered, and here it’s important to distinguish agency — and self-responsibility — from blame.”

This is such a wonderful agglomeration of contradictions that it repays closer study before we rush out into the sunshine.

I rejoiced when he said we are not “victims” of sin. Three cheers for Professor McFarland! Here, by implication, he is protesting against the hideous contemporary culture of victimhood which abolishes personal and social morality. You know the kind of thing: we are not gluttonous but we suffer from obesity. We can, if we have the time and patience, analyse all the seven deadly sins after that example and declare that we are not responsible for what we do but in some weird and incoherent sense afflicted by our own actions. As if it were the fault of the whisky that i got drunk. Some years ago, I read of an extreme example of this abolition of morality. A young man had murdered his mother and father and run off to New York with all their money. When he was captured and brought before the court, his defence offered a plea in mitigation: the young man had done nothing wrong but instead was “suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.”

Professor McFarland seems clearly to reject this fondness for the culture of victimhood: sinners’ healing “depends on them (sic) claiming their own agency.” As they say in the crime films, this means the culprit saying such as, “OK gov, it’s a fair cop. You’ve got me bang to rights. I’ll come quietly.”

Or, more elegantly,at the beginning of Morning and Evening Prayer: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, He is just and faithful to forgive us all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

So far, so good. But then the Regius Professor turns wonky: admitting our guilt – our “agency” – “raises the worry that people will blame themselves.”

Well yes – what’s wrong with that? Accepting my agency – it was me wot done it – means taking the blame. To put this formally: the acceptance of agency means taking the blame, being responsible, owning up. It is a plain contradiction to claim agency while rejecting blame.

The whole of personal and social morality, rewards and punishments and the concept of justice itself requires the antecedent concept of personal responsibility. Without the capacity to attribute blame (for bad acts) and praise (for good acts), there is no morality.

St Augustine believed and taught that all morality originates in God, in divinity. The way Professor McFarland would have it, there can be no morality and consequently no divinity.

So what’s the point of the Regius Professor of Divinity?

12 Apr

In bed with Sir Alex?

We – when I say we, I mean of course they – have come a long way since the early days of the blow up sex dolls which took so much puff that, once you’d inflated her, you’d no energy left to do anything with her.

I discovered this week that there are now sex dolls – really they are marketed as robots – that you don’t need to blow up: they come fully formed with perfect similitude to the female form divine. And they only cost ten thousand quid apiece,

Sexual cybernetics has made such progress that now these dolls can talk. I read of one which  – who? – speaks “in a soft Scottish accent.” I’m glad they said soft. You wouldn’t want to fork out £10,000 to find yourself waking up next to Sir Alex Ferguson, would you? You’d need subtitles in English. Anyhow, we’re spoiled for choice because her voice can be customised as that of anyone you fancy. I think I’ll forgo speculation here and leave it to my readers, if any.

Now, it’s one thing having a doll that talks, but quite another thing her having something to say. I imagine having retired with my lady automaton to discover that, just as I’m stirring myself into action, she says: “You know Peter, that damp patch on the ceiling is getting to be a real eyesore.”

Roll over and she continues: “I hear Fred Arkwright’s missus has run off Elsie Thirkettle’s old man.”

The manufacturer’s blurb says, “She will, on demand, get moody, jealous, insecure or throw a strop.” They will even sell you one that can feign a headache.

Topics of conversation can be tailored to your preferred pillow talk. I wouldn’t mind one that could discuss the Aussies’ ball-tampering, but with my luck I’d probably end up with a Remoaner in a perpetual sulk who yapped on all night about the glories of the Common Agricultural Policy  in a voice like Michael Heseltine’s.

Some blokes go in for verisimilitude in a big way and take their mechanical molls for dinner in posh restaurants. I read of one chap who took her shopping for knickers in Oxford Street. Another took her along when he wined and dined his wife.

Thankfully, the sex-robots are fully compliant with so called British Values. I mean, there’s no sexism here, no homophobia and no transphobia: for the robotic lovelies are bisexual, fully AC/DC  and swing all ways.

“I’ll do something about that damp patch in the morning, Sir Alex: so just stop nagging will you or I’ll hide your oil can!”

10 Apr

Dig your own grave

Let me try to put his in context…

In the next few days the USA military will launch an attack on Syrian army bases. This will not be merely symbolic but real. But it won’t amount to very much

The reason for this attack is said to be righteous outrage against Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. This use is verified and we have the pictures to prove it: so now we enjoy a unanimity of condemnation which extends even to that moral squalor which goes by the name of The Guardian.

All “civilised” and “democratic” and “liberal”  opinion agrees that Assad must be punished

And – Guardian readers all – rest assured Assad will be punished

Assad will receive the unbearable punishment of the slap on the wrist

The world’s media will look at the TV footage of the CIA’s drone attacks, cruise missiles, fast jet fighter-bombing and so on – and sit back with satisfaction

Assad’s chemical weapons attacks have nothing to do with the real-politic that pertains in the Middle East

Let’s instead look at the reality.

Israel last week launched an attack on a Syrian military airbase,

Ben Netanyahu followed up this attack by saying (in effect): “We did this because the base we attacked was full of Iranian Republican Guard, and we will not tolerate a strong Iranian presence on the borders of Israel. Do something, Donald – or we will”

So Donald will “do something” amounting to doing nothing

In this way the cowardly West continues to dig its own grave

08 Apr

Murder Most Avoidable

Fifty-one – and counting – people murdered in London since the beginning of the year. The Metropolitan Police must be very concerned. But Commissioner Cressida Dick insists, “This is a horrible, horrible spate of deaths but there is no crisis.”

What would be a crisis Ms Dick – a hundred deaths, two hundred? Well, you’re in charge, so what do you intend to do about it? She answers: “We need to reduce the number, particularly the number of young people, who are dying in street attacks.”

Really? You don’t say! We ought to examine the career of a person capable of making such an anodyne, asinine statement.

Cressida Dick is a policewoman – but not such as we used to see in the street in the olden days. She is not the sort of copper we might expect to find plodding Letsby Avenue. Let’s give her the full title: Commissioner Cressida Dick CBE QPM, the daughter of two senior academics, educated at the Dragon School then at Balliol College, Oxford and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Just the sorts of places where you can learn how to give anodyne answers, and where you don’t even need to wear size tens. Cressida is not your typical copper. She is – what shall we say? – a theoretical copper. Shape without form, shade without colour. Paralysed force. Gesture without motion. And she has an MPhil in Criminology to prove it.

She knew she was intended for superiority from that day – sometime in her mid-teens, I would imagine – when she realised that she belonged to the liberal elite and all the prizes awarded by its culture of entitlement would soon fall into her lap. She was fast-tracked for high office in 1993 and – I mean fast! – appointed Superintendent only two years later. That culture of entitlement is multifarious, enabling its members to flit from one exalted position to another. So in 2015 it was announced that she would be leaving the police force for a Director General’s role at the Foreign Office. Then in 2017 she flitted back to the Met on her appointment as Commissioner. I would not have been surprised if, in the meantime, she had served a spell as Archbishop of Canterbury. She self- identifies naturally – I mean unnaturally – as homosexual.

So what will this theoretical copper do about the non-crisis epidemic of murders in the capital?

Not very much. She will make a few speeches and sign rather more newspaper articles than usual. She will turn up for the telly the morning after another murder, or three. In other words, all appearance and no reality. She will pursue the futile policy of studied inactivity and wait for things to calm down. Good grief! – you don’t expect theoretical coppers actually to do anything, do you?

Something can be done. The active police – not the theoretical police – have intelligence, and with this intelligence they are able to identify the sorts of people who are likely to be carrying knives and guns. And so, as they say, apprehend them. This is called stop and search. Unsurprisingly this intelligent tactic worked. But, by deliberate act of policy, incidences of stop and search have declined by 65% since 2011. They declined further after 2015 when Theresa May, the longest-serving and most incompetent Home Secretary since 1945 – probably ever – decided, as she put it, “to rein in” stop and search because this “inflames tensions between the police and black people.”

But what if it was – and it was – mainly black people who were carrying guns and knives and committing crimes of violence? Well, rein in stop and search just the same, of course. Better have an epidemic of murders than offend the canons of political-correctness.

Baroness Lawrence, the mother of the schoolboy Stephen murdered twenty-five years ago, said this week on the anniversary of her son’s death: “The government needs to get a grip. Look who’s dying. If that amount of kids (sic) were in the white community, d’you think something would have been done?”

Baroness Lawrence is on to something – sort of. Yes, the government should support the forces of law and order precisely in those areas where the stabbings and shootings are being committed by those shown by long experience to be the likely perpetrators. That means stop and search. And to hell with political-correctness.

S’common sense innit? You don’t need an MPhil in criminology to understand that.

07 Apr

Hats off to the BBC!

I switch on Radio Four just before seven o’clock in the morning for the weather forecast, listen to the news headlines and then turn off before the relentless barrage of propaganda from the lefty clones who present The Today Programme have chance to reduce me to a gibbering wreck. But this morning I was late and, by the time I’d switched on, Britain’s very own version of Pravda was in full swing.

They were discussing this weekend’s election in Hungary in which Prime Minister Victor Orban is seeking another term.

This is how the unbiased, balanced, public service BBC presented the matter: “The populist leader Victor Orban is expected to be re-elected with a large majority.”

I pondered ever so hard what this word “populist” might mean. Clearly it was more than enough to send the state broadcasters on Today into a decline. 

The distress in the voice of Sarah Montague – or it may have been Humphrys, Robinson, Husain or Webb –  I can’t remember, they’re all identikit mouthpieces – was palpable. But my mind was stuck on a word they used to introduce that news item. As we noticed, Orban was described as “populist.”

Anyway, one of the Today clones interviewed an “expert” on Hungary. This man informed us that, while three years ago immigrants were pouring into Hungary in their tens of thousands, now the influx has been halted. Orban has built a wall to keep them out and he makes sure that it is patrolled by soldiers. The expert went on to say, “Unemployment is less than 4% and wages are increasing at the amazing rate of 10% each year.”

Why wouldn’t the man in the Budapest street or the woman pushing her pram through Paprika Park vote for Victor Orban? I thought to myself: Orban pursues very popular policies. And then it dawned on me like a vision, the answer to my puzzlement: a “populist” leader is a “popular” leader whom lefty broadcasters dislike.

I was keen to find out more about Hungary, a country in which the people seem to like and admire their prime minister – an opportunity which I only wish we enjoyed in Britain. Where might I find the information I was seeking? Why, the BBC website of course. Where better to find a balanced, unbiased account?

The BBC website told me that Orban’s policies are “controversial.” Not among Hungarians – Sarah, Justin, John or whoever is holding the mic at the moment. Or the Hungarians wouldn’t vote so overwhelmingly in Orban’s favour.

The BBC also told me: “Orban alarms other EU leaders with his brand of nationalism and populism.”

And there the BBC is dead right! Naturally, the unelected apparatchiks and international bureaucrats in the European Commission have nothing but contempt for the idea of the nation state and for the wishes of its people.

So hats off to the BBC for such a clear and accurate explanation of what’s going on in Hungary this weekend 

04 Apr

Are you going to hell?

Did Pope Francis say there is no such place as hell? Well, is there? What does the Christian faith have to say about this question? The answer is both “much” and “various.”

Hell is a biblical concept, first found in the Old Testament, the ancient Hebrew scriptures. There are two words for hell: sheol and gehenna. Sheol (Genesis 37: 35) and elsewhere) is the place of departed spirits, a gloomy underworld, hades. There is no connotation of punishment in sheol. It is simply where we all go when we die, where we live a shadowy existence, the nearest thing to fading away. Though another ancient Jewish tradition declares that in sheol there is a section – “the bosom of Abraham” – where we wait in hope to be taken into the nearer presence of God. Gehenna (Matthew 10:28 and elsewhere) is a place of punishment and “unquenchable fire.” At the time of Jesus, the endlessly smoking, festering rubbish tip outside Jerusalem was referred to as gehenna. Also in the New Testament hell is described as “a lake of fire and endless torment” (Revelation 20:10).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) says this on the subject:

“We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbour or against ourselves. He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.” Jesus often speaks of this “gehenna,” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he will send his angels, and they will gather… all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire, and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!” The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, which is described as “eternal fire.”

We can’t escape by turning Protestant. The Westminster Confession (1646) speaks unequivocally of “eternal torments.”

There are other views. Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that hell should not be imagined as a place but as a state of being, of one’s personal experience: so that those who have loved God and tried to serve him will experience the afterlife as benign, while the persistently sinful and disobedient will feel only pain.

Others hold a doctrine of annihilationsim according to which the soul of an unrepentant sinner after death endures a period of punishment and then is destroyed.

A more cheerful teaching is that of universalism (Origen AD 184-253) and Karl Barth (1886-1968): the doctrine that no one will be eternally damned. The argument is that, since God’s purpose is the redemption of sinful human beings, then if one person should remain in hell forever, then God’s purpose will be thwarted. Universalists thus argue that the demons and the devil himself (if there are such beings) will also be saved at the last and God’s triumph fully revealed. But the Bible and subsequent Jewish and Christian theology tell us that God also gave us freewill. If God were then to compel us to repent, to be saved and taken into heaven, then God is abolishing his own gift of freewill.

Whatever hell is, it is, so to speak, a philosophical minefield. For what can life after death mean? As Wittgenstein said, “Death is not an event in life.” Death is the end of life because for the individual the event of death is the end of time and space. And existence of any kind without time and space would seem to be impossible, for all we mean by existence is experienced as being in time and space. As Heidegger said, “We are embodied time, Dasein” which, as Woody Allen knows, means “being there.”

And what am I when I am no longer a living body? What sense can we make of the word soul? If it is not a body – and by definition it is not – then what is it and where is it? If it is not a body, can it be  anywhere? Can it even be a substantive, a what? In any case, and contrary to the popular notion, the Christian faith does not teach the immortality of the soul but the resurrection of the body (I Corinthians 15). Of course not many people think that the resurrection of the body means skeletons, rotted corpses and vanished ash putting on flesh once again. Instead, St Paul says that at the resurrection we shall be given a “spiritual body” a swmapneumatikon But can a spiritual body be anything other than a contradiction in terms?

Another view – that of so called “realised eschatology” or the things of the future in the here and now – says that heaven and hell are images, picture language, metaphors for present states of being. Thus hell is an image of the unrepentant sinner as he is presently living his life. Well, that is not what the Bible appears to be saying. And, in any case, many unrepentant sinners do not feel themselves to be in hell. Perhaps they do not even think of themselves as sinners! And secularised modern man would be mightily offended were you to call him a sinner. He has done away with Original Sin and replaced it with Self-Esteem.

About hell and heaven, I don’t know. See you when we get there – or not, as the case may be…    

03 Apr

The Company He Keeps

We learn much about a man by observing the company he keeps.

Over last weekend, Jeremy Corbyn attended a Passover celebration in Islington organised by Jewdas, a near-anarchist organisation described, with eloquent restraint, by The Jewish Chronicle as “a Jewish diaspora group known for its far left anti-Zionism.” Among their more socially-acceptable activities was the organisation of an anti-fascist Yom Kippur ball.

In May 2015, Jewdas took more than thirty people on its inaugural Birthwrong – the satirical mockery of the traditional Jewish doctrine of birthright – trip to Andalusia. This was advertised as “a trip for anyone who’s sick of Israel’s stranglehold on Jewish culture and wants to get away on a raucous holiday. See Maimonides! Get pissed! Do some Jewish tourism! Spend Shabbat with Andalusian Jews! Shvitz in a hammam! Visit a communist village! Get pissed!”

In other words, last weekend’s gathering was one at which Jeremy Corbyn would have felt entirely at home.

Jewdas members have a favourite party game in which a cheerleader calls out names of prominent British Jews and everyone boos. They have a particular dislike for Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle whom they regularly abuse as “a non-Jew.”

They frequently preach the destruction of Israel: “Israel is a steaming pile of sewage which needs to be disposed of.”

Hearing those words must have greatly cheered Mr Corbyn, the avowed friend of the terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah.

I’m left with just one thought: I wish I could get through to the snowflake, airhead youngsters who are so beguiled by “Jeremy” that they intend to make him prime minister.

I have found much to dislike about many politicians over the years, but I would never have described any one of these as evil – until Corbyn emerged out of his very own steaming pile of sewage.

31 Mar

Lefties’ Review of Books

When a tawdry commercial website tells me, “You’ve been selected” to be the privileged recipient of its shabby merchandise, I just click on “skip ad” and go back to what I was doing before I was interrupted. When something that purports to be a literary magazine adopts the same technique, I know that the end of the civilised world is at hand. And so it is…

The London Review of Books (LRB) has invited me to take out a “special” discounted subscription.

Why me, I ask? Because, declares the omniscient LRB, “You know good writing when you see it.” And not just good writing, but the best: “by the world’s best authors.” (I’ll tell you who the LRB thinks some of these authors are in a minute). The LRB  boasts particularly its admiration for these writers because they write about all manner of stuff including – if I may use the LRB’s fashionable oxymoron – “popular culture.”

According to the LRB, I am some sort of paragon. Not only do I know good writing, but I “appreciate an alternative point of view.” This must mean, I suppose, an alternative to the literary establishment.

Why doesn’t the LRB understand that it is the establishment?

Here are some of its members – the authors I promised to tell you about…

Top of the list is the very unpleasant Hilary Mantel, the talkative apologist for Henry VIII’s iconoclastic toady Thomas Cromwell. You will be asking me to give my reasons for saying that Mantel is a member of the literary establishment. Very well, here are three to be going on with:

She referred to the Duchess of Cambridge as “a shop window mannequin.”

She boasted that she fantasised about murdering Margaret Thatcher and even wrote a short story about it called The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.

She wrote: “The Catholic Church is not an institution for respectable people.”

Next on the list is James Wood whose qualifications for membership of the leftie establishment don’t come any better than being described as “wonderful” by Martin Amis and “marvellous” by Christopher Hitchens.

Then the mythopoeic Marina Warner. As we have seen, Mantel  has nothing but contempt for the Catholic Church while Marina has it in for the nonconformists: 

“The sombre-suited masculine world of the Protestant religion is altogether too much like a gentlemen’s club to which the ladies are only admitted on special days.”

Really? Who then were all those Methodist creatures in frocks I came across every day when I was growing up in the back streets of Leeds, who officiated as deacons, sang in the choir – one even played the organ – read the lesson and preached many a sermon?

The LRB suggests Colm Toibin as one of “the world’s best authors.” His novels obsess about homosexuality – and you can’t have better establishment credentials than that. Colm begins many sentences with “I think” – only for the rest of his paragraph to demonstrate that he doesn’t.

And of course here comes the all-time favourite, the North London guru and national treasure himself: Alan Bennett. He is the grammar school boy who believes passionately in state education – a lefty establishment foible that condemns generations of poor children to ignorance.

This then is the LRB’s pantheon of “the alternative point of view.” These “world’s best authors” are all in one another’s pockets and review each other’s books – favourably, inevitably. This does not represent an “alternative.” It is just the opposite: a politico-cultural hegemony incarnate full of Guardianistas and other tribunes of the – if I may coin another oxymoron – left wing conscience.

If you’re looking for a genuine alternative, try The Literary Review

29 Mar

The View from the Gutter

Why has the Daily Telegraph replaced its cultivated and discerning radio critic Gillian Reynolds with the arrogant oik Jemima Lewis?

This week she writes: “My ignorance of Paradise Lost is more of a chasm.”

Question: So why are you going to write about it then? Jemima is an expert in the art of the sweeping – and groundless – judgement: “Hardly anyone reads Milton’s epic any more.”

How do you know that?

Never mind, the unread elitist John Milton eventually manages to gain some street cred with Jemima on account, so she informs us, of the fact that he “inspired Pink Floyd.”

(I’m tempted to say hardly anyone has heard of Pink Floyd).

After her excursus on 17th century English verse, Jemima next shines her expertise on the subject of music in a review of the programme Is Music a Civilising Force?

Not if it’s Pink Floyd, it isn’t.

The programme was a talk by Sir Roger Scruton in which the philosopher, musicologist and church organist agrees with Plato that ”the barbarous rhythms of dance music could produce in young people traits of character which no civilised republic should allow.”

Sir Roger continued: “Beware of those rabble-rousing disc-jockeys and music in which there is nothing but a beat. It really matters what the young are listening to.”

Yes, Plato and Sir Roger are in agreement about this. But, according to Jemima, the views of the greatest of ancient philosophers together with those of one of our most distinguished modern thinkers count for nothing. These views are, Jemima instructs us from her perspective in the gutter, “absurdly dyspeptic.”

Jemima Lewis? We’d be better off reading Jemima Puddleduck