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James Garner RIP.

I kinda grew up with James Garner. While Clint Eastwood was doing Rawhide, Garner was so much more cool and sassy as Maverick, the smooth and handsome gambler in everything but fisticuffs and gunplay. A deft draw from the bottom of the pack yes, a quick draw from his holster, no… unless it was a derringer.

And I loved The Rockford Files in the 70’s. An ex con Private Investigator who lived in a trailer on a Californian beach. His Dad Rocky, an ex truck driver, who was more trouble than all his clients put together, and it was a gentle fun filled romp that lighted up our dour Brit gloom with a bit of Californian warmth and whimsy.

I never passed on a film that had his name in the titles… knowing it would not be a waste of 90 minutes. He was like the incredibly cool, world weary, wise cracking, women magnet, uncle you never had, and wished you could be like.

Thanks for all the laughs and feelgood times James…

RIP – Peaches Geldof (13 March 1989 – 7 April 2014)

While I always regret the death of some mothers daughter, and some child’s mother, I am at a loss to understand why the Australian ABC radio news is headlining the demise of some obscure British media personality.

Pearls of Wisdom

If there’s an anti-democratic organisation or movement anywhere, an individual dictator or a tyrannical regime, then it’s a safer than safe bet, because it’s a certainty, that somewhere or other a commentator on the Western left (verkrappt section) will be telling you that the said organisation or movement, dictator or regime, isn’t as bad as all that. And it’s a near certainty that one of the somewheres he or she will be telling you this is in the Guardian.

Norm Geras

Seamus Heaney RIP.

We’re big on poetry here at Counting Cats, the title is a Henry Thoreau quote after all. So it is with a heavy heart that we hear the news that Seamus Heaney, Ireland’s most famous poet ,has died at the age of 74.

A Nobel Prize winner and prolific writer of not just poems but plays and books. Go here for an obituary, and here for examples of his work. Some of the finest honed and crafted words you will ever read.

Thatcher’s greatest achievement ~ it’s not what you think

Many more eloquent writers with first hand experience will have eulogised Baroness Thatcher, and rightly so.  The Falklands, the privatisations, the tax cuts, the near destruction of the trade union movement as an effective political force and the enormous economic turnaround have all been well covered as has the poll tax.  Most commentators have either missed or minimised the financial deregulation that made London the financial capital of the world, and the revenue this generated.  Neither should achieving public sector debt repayments (sic) as opposed to today’s endless borrowing and QE be forgotten.

And most commentators be they natural allies, conservative opponents or indeed members of the Labour party have behaved with decorum more or less.  Most have, one or two vile specimens have not.

Case the first, would be the cretinous socialist worker types who were dancing on the streets.  Most could barely have been alive at the time, this is purely thoughtless Pavlovianism.  It doesn’t make it right, just brainless.

Case the second would be the people in former mining communities.  Now it is certainly true that pit closures would and did devastate pit towns.  But this seemed to me to be more or less unavoidable.  The raison d’etre for the towns was the mine.  When the economic case for the pit goes, so frankly does the town.  Some interviewees could not get past the hatred, most had not moved on*.  They were fat, indolent and unemployed.  The media talked about their shorter life expectancies.  Yep, no exercise, crappy diet, smoking and boozing will do that.  Hardly the Lady’s fault all these years later.  I felt sorry for them.  Betrayed by their erstwhile leaders, they were effectively living in the past, wishing for a bygone era that will never return.  They will die bitter.

Case the third, Gerry Adams.  I guess when you are a former bomber it is unrealistic to expect decent behaviour, or even a straight response.  We got neither from this scumbag.  He made a statement about how Thatcher had allowed the hunger strikers to die.  That slightly understated his own responsibility and was to put it mildly, disingenuous.  He also skipped right past his friends attempt to murder her in Brighton.

Case the fourth, and the worst by far in some pretty rum company, Neil Kinnock.  This two-time whining failure made some ludicrous sixth-form type remarks about how the poor got poorer under Thatcher.  Needless to say they got much, much richer but such a stranglehold on reality perhaps explains why the people of the UK said ‘No’ to Neil, twice in succession.  And despite all the money sucked from the public teat for him and the entire family, he still wasn’t happy.  And then it struck me, perhaps the Lady’s greatest achievement was kicking out Callaghan, obliterating the ludicrous Michael Foot and trouncing Neil “two-time-loser” Kinnock**.  Keeping these hoons out of Downing Street may indeed have been her best.

* Of course I appreciate this was not a representative sample.  Those who had moved on, had in all probability, left the area.

** Yes, I appreciate it was Major who beat Kinnock second time around.  I itself a tribute to rank incompetence, being beaten by the grey man.

Quote of the Day

There is only one direction in which the Conservative Party can proceed if it is to find itself. It must stand for all the things for which Conservatism, in its best times, has stood — for the family and the individual; against the state and against bureaucracy; against monopolies and against cartels; for people and against collectives. It must resist the temptation to expect the state to behave as a nanny, and strive for recognition for citizens. All these things may, at this moment, seem difficult. But the party either espouses them or relapses into being a pale copy of the milder sections of the Labour Party.

Patrick Cosgrave, in The Spectator, January 1975.

It was true then, and it’s true now. Perhaps the saddest part of Lady Thatcher’s passing is wondering today whether her administration even happened.

RIP Alex Cassie: 22 Dec 1916 – 5 April 2012

Not everyone gets to be portrayed by Donald Pleasance.

H/T Daily Telegraph

More Gun Crime…

One of the most remarkable things I ever did see on TV News was a vigil for victims of gun-crime held in Manchester. I think it must of been some sort of anniversary of some young lad being shot and deaded in a South Manchester pub. Sounds tragic doesn’t it? I mean he was like 20 tops.

Except it wasn’t quite how the tragedarians portrayed it with the weeping mother and a candle-lit vigil. Because I recall how it had originally been presented in the media. Now you might be thinking he’d gone to the pub with his mates to watch Man City play Chelsea and have a couple of jars. You might be thinking he’d gone to chat-up the local talent. You might be thinking he went to transact a drug-deal or flog a nicked car stereo… He was there strictly on business and none of the above. He was a contract killer on his first (and last job). He was there to pop a cap in the ass of some other miscreant except it didn’t work out and the other miscreant was also carrying and clearly had an itchier finger. So this lad died of sheer incompetence on the first day of the job.

Yet by the appliance of the science of advanced victimology and the passage of time he became a victim of gun crime. Now in a sense he was but in a broader sense if you walk into a gaff with a shooter and murderous intent and get whacked then this is what I shall play your lament upon…

I’m not sure if that actually is the world’s smallest violin but it shall do. The truly bizarre thing is his tearful mum couldn’t see the bigger picture at all and thought him a victim. Now, I honestly don’t know how it works (the contract killing business) but she seemed to think it was better for her son to be doing that than signing on. Presumably if he’d been successful the cash would have paid for a Sunday roast and a new telly or something. Something a mum can be really proud of “Oh, he’s a good lad!” Well the Krays always loved their mum too. Well a mate of mine got a job after leaving school in the Argos warehouse. Not a great job but a start and vastly more something to be proud of than being a contract-killer and a bloody incompetent one at that. Victim – yes. Of guns, no. Of epic incompetence and stupidity – yes.

I mean that was my parish near as damn it and that could have been me sitting quietly in the corner watching the football and killed or maimed in a crossfire.

The Dearest Leader

May he rest in peace.


Steven Paul Jobs – February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011


He named each of his three sons Lawrence – but all with different middle names. Asked to explain that move he reportedly said: "First of all, it was ego. And secondly, I wanted to screw up the social security system."

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