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Yes, it's Brexit

In the UK, supermarket shelves are empty of certain vegetables, and indeed, in some places just empty.

A bad harvest in Africa, unfavourable weather, price rises, transportation issues... everybody is pointing and blaming everything except the giant dayglo elephant with nipple tassles doing the can-can in the centre of the room.

Here's my local supermarket this evening.

Loads of vegetables
Loads of vegetables.

I live in the middle of nowhere. I bet a lot of this stuff gets "recycled". But, it's there, in all it's lurid vegetable-coloured glory. If you think that's bad, taking the picture from the other side is eye-hurting shades of orange thanks to the clementines and mandarines.

So, you know, maybe time to look at that elephant and figure out what to do about it?


Cultural assassination

I'm sure, by now, you've heard that the books of Roald Dahl are to be "edited" to remove language that some snowflakes think might be "offensive".

Apparently, the changes being instigated by Puffin (who has hired "sensitivity readers"), are extensive. The word "fat" has been removed, and in some cases replaced with the word "enormous" (so the difference is?), and Mrs Twit is no longer called "ugly and beastly", just "beastly" (and still, it would seem, a Twit).
References to "female" characters have been changed to refer to them as "women", you know, now that it seems that gender is an optional thing that people can choose, like whether or not they want a straight black or a lattè... oh wait, black versus white coffee, plenty of scope for inventing non-existant racial undertones.

Look, there are many problems with the past (not that the present is a shining pile of glory), but it's completely invalid and illogical to judge the past by whatever morals happen to be in vigour today.

Let me give you some examples. When I was young, a fairly common TV advert was some obscure nonsense that tended to end up with a piece of (purple?) silk being cut by something.
Silk Cut is a brand of cigarette.

Then there was that unusually long and stylistically awesome advert that was either complete gibberish or something so highbrow it went over most people's heads. What was it? The musings of Rutger Hauer and a dose of pure genius.
To advertise Guinness.

Then there was a guy on a golf course. Walking, walking, walking, looking more and more agitated. Finally he makes it to a small building. We see the word "CLOSED" and he lights a cigar as we cut to urine pouring out of his shoes. Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet.
Actually, I think that was one of the parody adverts (Jasper Carrot?), but other Hamlet adverts were real.

Oh, and smokers didn't huddle outside. During my teenage years places (like restaurants) would be split into vaguely smoking and non-smoking sections, but when I was a child if you didn't like smoke you simply didn't go.

Now one to make your mind melt. The Paedophile Information Exchange (known as "PIE") was an openly pro-paedophile activist group who were campaigning for the abolition of the age of consent. It was started in 1974 and disbanded in 1984. Their stated aim was to (quote) "alleviate suffering of many adults and children". How? By campaigning to make it perfectly legal for adults to have sex with children.
No, this is not a joke. Look it up on Wikipedia.
That's not to say that it wasn't controversial, it certainly was, but can you imagine a group openly promoting having sex with children existing at all these days, never mind existing for ten years?

So with respect to those who think it's a good idea to make mass changes to Dahl's books, this isn't vandalism, it's an assassination. You are blatantly destroying history. Somewhere along the way, it seems to have been missed that Dahl's words made him the popular and well known author that he is today. How dare you take it upon yourselves to change those words because you don't like them?

And for those who can't handle the idea of reading a book where a character is called "fat" and a woman is referred to as "female"... kindly just go away and read something more your speed, like "Woke Baby" (yes, that's an actual book for toddlers, god help us).


For better or worse, this is our shared history

I'm working my way through Lovecraft, thanks to Project Gutenberg. Was he racist? Yeah, pretty much. Some of the descriptions in his stories are... a bit, uncomfortable. Was he a bit wonky in the head? Oh hell yes. But did he put together an impressive mythos? Yup.
I appreciate Lovecraft's stories, though I don't agree with every word. But I understand that his opinions were not that unusual in the time in which he lived. This isn't to excuse it, but who are we to judge him against our morality? If he was writing these sorts of stories in 2010, then yeah, cancel his arse with a bazooka. But he was writing in the 1920s-1930s. Slavery might have ended in the US in 1865, but "Jim Crow" laws forced white and black people to live separately. Segregation was widespread and just expected. To the point where there were signs telling black people where they could legally walk, talk, rest, eat... Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?
Could black people vote? Well, yeah, if they could pay an expensive tax and pass a complicated literacy test. Oh, and a special "Grandfather Clause" was slipped in to prevent anybody from voting if their grandfather had been a slave.
Rosa Park's infamous refusal on the bus happened in 1955. The equally famous "I Have A Dream" speech happened in 1963. And in America, segregation of blacks and whites was finally repealed in 1964, but compliance with the new law took years and many cases in lower courts enforcing it.

Let me put this in different terms. Mom would have been seven years old when Rosa took her stand. She'd have been fifteen when Martin Luther King's speech was making history, and sixteen when segregation was officially ended. At which point her mother ditched the country club the family used to go to because, well, they were happy to allow blacks in. So mom's mother (just think "Driving Miss Daisy" and you're most of the way there) looked for a different country club, one that was still happy to uphold a "No Blacks, No Jews" rule.
It's shitty and it's wrong, but that is how it was at that period in time.

Oh, and on this side of the ocean, Britain had it's own issues. Workhouses (in which children performing dangerous jobs was not unheard of) were a thing until the 1930s, but the corrupt and unfair "Poor Laws" and the possibility of workhouses remained until the National Assistance Act of 1948 that finally put an end to that.

I don't feel that it was right to topple the statue of Edward Colston. Or to complain about statues of dubious men adorning the walls of universities.

All of those statues should remain. Certainly, some rather unpleasant men may have founded towns and universities. But what does anybody think they're achieving by tearing down the statues? Some other statue (maybe a famous scientist or whatever) will be erected in its place, and all of this unpleasant history will be tidily swept under the carpet and forgotten about.
Erasing the bits of history you don't like might make you feel better but it will do nothing to help to understand how and what happened. Maybe, to help try to avoid making similar sorts of awful mistakes like that today. You know, such as bundling unwanted people on flights to the middle of Africa, or splitting parents from their young children as a matter of policy.

Far better, really, to leave the statue up, and accept that people are multifaceted and that history is complicated, and the mistakes of the past are still relevant lessons for today.
Hitler, for example, created an affordable car for people and built a motorway network to link parts of the country. It was quite progressive at the time. He was also a shit that waged war in Europe, killed millions of Jews and Roma, plus various other groups determined to be a danger to or burden on the state - so homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and disabled people to name some other targets (non exhaustive list, mind).
Wiping out two thirds of the Jews in Europe certainly makes an overwhelming case against the Führer, and I'm certainly not going to defend any of that crap. The Holocaust happened and it is arguably humanity's darkest hour (so far), and, you know what? It wasn't actually that long ago. This isn't some vague and fuzzy Dark Ages crap. Those Boomers you like to make fun of? They are post-war babies. Your father (if my age) or (great) grandfather. Want to find anybody that lived through the war? Find anybody over the age of 85. They'd have been seven at the end, so old enough to remember what it was actually like. So, yes, it was really quite recent.

The point is, however, that all of the fallout from the war, the divisions of countries, the divisions of families, the evactuees, the refugees, and all that has come since.
The words of Lovecraft.
The words of Dahl.
The actions of Colston.
And hundreds of others...

All of these are reasons why we are where we are today. If you don't like it, if you can't handle the messy and often unpleasant past, and the massively different attitudes that people had back then (as they will in the future), just remember one thing.
You're able to sit there in class and whinge about females not being women rather than having your arse beaten by the foreman of the workhouse exactly because of the social changes that took place during the past that upsets you. The past isn't perfect. Neither is the present. And god knows the future won't be.

But if you think the correct answer to the past is to tear it down and/or rewrite chunks of it.... fuck that, fuck you, and fuck the lame horse you rode in on.

That past is what led to our present. The events, the people, the stories, the fiction, the movies (where everybody smoked) and every little bit; good, bad, brilliant, and despicable.
Who are YOU to start censoring things you don't like? If every generation does that, there would eventually be no history other than "something happened, but we're not sure what".

Maybe, instead of tearing down statues, keep them there and have a discussion on how things were and why the statue was put up?
Maybe, instead of savaging books, leave them as they were and have a discussion about how people thought about things differently compared to today?

But, whatever, don't assissinate the past, your own cultural heritage, because it's not quite woke enough for you.



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Gavin Wraith, 22nd February 2023, 23:02
The chap who founded PIE was high commissioner to Canada, one of the great (and not so good) and the son of the headmaster of the boarding school I went to at the age of seven. I think that may have given the headmaster something to worry about and conceal from the parents. 
The regulations for 'bedders', the ladies brought in to clean the young gentlemen's rooms, at Cambridge Colleges, was in my day, and presumably still is, that they be 'senex et horrida'. I don't suppose I need to translate.
David Pilling, 23rd February 2023, 23:13
We had a similar episode of tomato and other salad shortages due to bad weather in Spain a few years back - 2018 or 2019.  
Aside from everything else they're on a mission to reduce food waste. Use by dates have gone. I got a jar of coffee yesterday with "past the date, smell touch taste, don't let go to waste" on it. 
I also got 7 boxes of tomatoes (ordered a month previously - not panic buying). There definitely are problems, but not quite as epic as some are making out. 
Statues... oddly absent in my life. Think they must be more a South of England thing. Can take the attitude why are they there, what good did they do. Or then again make fun of them. 
There's been a move to take the past more seriously. When I was a lad it was all fake German accents "ve hav vays of making you talk". Some of that was perpetuated by people who had been in the war. Now it is realism "All Quiet on the Western Front". 
Renaming schools is going on a lot at the moment. ISTR Francis Drake got the chop recently. The school I went to was named after a British WW2 general. When I was there it seemed fair enough - does not sit as easily now. 
J.G.Harston, 24th February 2023, 12:47
Wierd, I haven't seen any vegetable shortages in the supermarkets here in Yorkshire. Must be a soft southern thing.
Rick, 24th February 2023, 14:37
Finally, a workable solution: er-announces-unaltered-16-book-classics-collection 
Rick, 24th February 2023, 14:39
JGH: You know, I'm sure, that if a shelf runs dry in London it's a front page crisis, but if the same happens Oop Norf, then meh who cares. 
David Pilling, 24th February 2023, 17:48
Bring back "Bunter", 'the fat owl of the remove'... fat and short sighted, how we laughed.
Anon, 24th February 2023, 19:07
To put it in a quick summary: 
1. I voted Remain. Brexit was a stupid idea. 
2. Roald Dahl was a genius. Flawed perhaps, but it's like trying to 'edit' Einstein's words because you didn't agree with him. 
3. The 'wokerati' need to stop taking an airbrush to history. If you erase history you can't learn from it. (Rick - I think that's what you were getting at above?) 
Seems that George Orwell was right, he was just 30-something years too early. 
As for the Colston statue, did anyone else notice that the three miscreants who were up in court for criminal damage were all privileged white middle-class? Whose ancestors were never oppressed by Colston? And they were all acquitted. What's the betting that if it had been three working-class black men (who might have had some reason to be upset) they'd all have been found guilty and had the book thrown at them?
Rick, 26th February 2023, 14:03
Turns out that an interview was recorded where Dahl himself was vehemently opposed to the idea of editing his work. 
Rick, 26th February 2023, 16:28
I should add, by the way, that it's little to do with the wokerati, and lots to do with identifying how to appease a "potential" market (the potential being the parents, the kids actually more likely to be confused by such notions as "female and women" referring to different things), and thus making said changes in order to be able to sell stuff with a fancy new tagline about how inclusive and progressive they are. It's bullshit capitalism. 
Like Anon mentions with the middle class white protesters, it's not "woke" to object to something on behalf of others, it's actually rather offensive in and of itself. If a black guy is upset about featuring a statue of a slave trader and complains, that's one thing. But if a white guy takes offense on the black guy's behalf? What‽ 
And so, a book publisher, editing a set of popular books in order to appease what is likely a really small demographic at the cost of bastardising the literature for everybody else. It almost sounds like a badly conceived publicity stunt...

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