Anorak News | Britblog Roundup 132

Britblog Roundup 132

by | 27th, August 2007

WELCOME to Edition 132 of the Britblog Roundup brought to you from a country with four separate administrations (two for the main linguistic communities, one for the capital and one federal), where in spite of this proliferation of bureaucracy the only surveillance cameras are perched atop traffic lights.

As digested by Redemption Blues.


As ever, we commence our voyage round the blogosphere with the cut and thrust of political debate. Even the incessant downpours that deprived those of us in northern climes of a proper summer failed to dampen the campaigning spirit.

Neil Clark in the Guardian’s Comment is Free section, Keep these quislings out roundly condemns what he perceives as the hypocrisy of the war-mongering Right in calling for 91 Iraqi employees of the Coalition Provisional Authority to be granted asylum: “Who exactly is meant by ‘us’? In common with millions of other Britons, I did not want the Iraq war, an illegal invasion of a sovereign state engineered and egged on by a tiny minority of fanatical neoconservatives whose first loyalty was not to Britain but to the cause of Pax Americana. NHS doctors and nurses, firemen and the police force work for ‘us’, but in no stretch of the imagination do Iraqi interpreters, who are employed by British forces that have no right or cause to be in Iraq”.

By no stretch of the imagination – in his view – should we show any sympathy towards such individuals Mr Clark sneers: “The interpreters did not work for ‘us’, the British people, but for themselves – they are paid around £16 a day, an excellent wage in Iraq – and for an illegal occupying force. Let’s not cast them as heroes. The true heroes in Iraq are those who have resisted the invasion of their country”

His conclusion is quite uncompromising: “(…) let’s do all we can to keep self-centred mercenaries who betrayed their fellow countrymen and women for financial gain out of Britain”.

These fulminations elicited an impassioned and powerful rebuttal from Dan Hardie in Two teenaged Quislings, in which he cites Andrew Alderson’s book Bankrolling Basra with its first-hand account of trying to establish order amid chaos. It records the fate of Shaimaa and Likaa Falih, aged 16 and 18 respectively, who worked in the CPA laundry and were both gunned down in cold blood on their way home from work. Dan Hardie writes: “This isn’t about only ‘translators’. This isn’t about just ‘the 91’. This is about two teenage girls murdered because they worked folding clothes in some sweatbox, the same as I did in my eighteenth summer, murdered because they worked for people sent there by our elected representatives. It’s about safeguarding those threatened with torture and death for the same reason, those Shaimaas and Likaas who are now in hiding, in fear for their lives while we welcome or bemoan the return of the Premiership and read detailed articles on ‘Big Brother’”.

Regardless of political affiliations, Mr Clark’s essay is permeated with a – perhaps unintentional – callous indifference to human life. His moral opprobrium seems singularly misplaced as he allows ideology to take precedence over compassion I was no supporter of the war myself, yet turning away girls such as Shaimaa and Likaa on the grounds that they have outlived their usefulness is obscene. As a result of the “brutal, murderous assault on a third-world country” (Clark) it may be well-nigh impossible to repair the damage done to our self-image and international reputation, but granting asylum would at least allow us to salvage a shred of decency from a sordid misadventure.

On the same theme Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads lists those who have lent their support to Dan Hardie’s “We Can’t Turn Them Away” campaign, whilst Chicken Yoghurt provides an invaluable compendium of newspaper articles on the subject, as well as a list of MPs who have responded to letters and Unity contributes banners for anyone who wishes to publicise the plight of the employees on their blogs.

On the human rights front, Toby Philpott of Liberal Legend II highlights Amnesty International’s bid to bring pressure to bear on the Chinese government to honour the promises made in 2001. If no tangible improvement becomes apparent, the author states his intention, however reluctantly, to start agreeing with those calling for a boycott of the Games: “It’s up to the Communists to start realising that they now live in a global village and metaphorical ‘wife beating’ isn’t acceptable anymore”.

A light-hearted footnote to the admirable pugnaciousness of those who seek to right the world’s wrongs is furnished by Johnny B’s private secret diary, whose spoof call to arms centres around a petition to have Charlie Chaplin films shown in a continuous loop in your local Accident and Emergency Department. He posits the following benefits:
“- It will make people happy who are unhappy due to their medical circumstances;
– It will make people happy who are unhappy due to the fact that placing a television in the corner of a room, tuning it to a spoken-word station and then turning the sound off is beyond a fatuous use of valuable NHS funds and approaching the provocation to riot;
– The staff on the ward will all naturally work a lot faster as they are inspired by the pace of the movie;
– If there is a fight or aggravation by drunks, people will know how to avoid being hit by running round the room five times and then doing a head-over-heels through the aggressor’s legs before turning round to kick them in the bottom”.

The bleak portrait of contemporary Britain outside the privileged enclaves of the leafy suburbs painted so poignantly by Nick Davies in Dark Heart (London, Vintage, 1998) seems more relevant than ever almost a decade on: “[The senior social worker] knows, too, about heroin, which used to belong only in the back streets of the red-light areas but has now established itself in every residential street on his patch. It is the mothers who like it best, he says, the young mothers. They don’t want crack cocaine, with a rush in the brain that lasts no more than a couple of minutes; they want soft, warm, gentle heroin to take them in its arms and lull them to sleep. He knows a lot of young mothers who have started using it and a few who use their children to run and get it for them.

‘There are a lot of kids round here who know all about drugs. You go to a house and knock on the door and the kids come and check you out through the letter box – not like a normal kid that’s just being curious and having a laugh. They look through the letter box to see if you’re a source of danger and then they go back and tell Mum. These kids know all the different names for different drugs – what they look like, how much they cost, where to buy them. They’re bound to. They’re growing up with this stuff all around them. You’ll see them out on the streets on their own, as young as four or five years old, just roaming around, looking for trouble. If you come down here at night, they’re still there, sniffing glue, setting fire to empty houses, just roaming around’” (pp161-2).

In a nihilistic environment where drug dealers hold out the promise of alleviating the pain of hopelessness through chemically induced stupefaction and youngsters routinely carry knives and guns for their personal protection (to the extent that school uniform manufacturers believe they have spotted a market niche with Kevlar-toughened blazers), where gang affiliation is not only cool but a viable (if not vital) survival strategy, the real wonder is that random stabbings and shootings are not more frequent.

The tragic killing of Rhys Jones prompted Jock Coates at Jock’s Place…ramblings of a Geo-Mutualist Liberal Democrat to tackle the issue of gangs, guns and drugs: “To me, Rhys Jones died because of government and international policy which is not only failing to stop addiction (even if that were a valid aim of public policy – see On Liberty), but encouraging and subsidising organised crime. Legalise now to stop these government sponsored deaths”.

Chris Dillow at Stumbling and Mumbling examines the psychological dimension of the official reaction to such occurrences, more specifically the propensity of commentators and policy-shapers to see what they want to see: “In focusing upon extreme, rare events they stop people asking: what is normal everyday life like? Could it be that – especially in areas where such crime happens – everyday life is one where good people are powerless to prevent social decay? And could it be that politicians just don’t want to ask how to empower them?”

Not that all social workers are the salt of the earth, valiantly struggling against impossible odds and piffling budgets to serve the best interests of the deprived, as Tim Worstall vividly illustrates by drawing attention to the case of Vanessa Brookes, 34, who smuggled taping equipment into a meeting with social services officials because she was afraid that her baby would be taken for forced adoption.

The source drawn on is Ben Leapman’s article in the Sunday Telegraph, in which he speculates that the heavy-handed attitude of social services in taking children away on the pretext that they might fall victim to “emotional abuse” is motivated by a desire to meet adoption targets as opposed to any genuine concern for the welfare of the infant in question. The article contains one very revealing snippet from the recording: “The social worker says the two or three days the mother has with her baby in hospital will allow her to begin breast-feeding and that once the infant is taken away, social services will pick up expressed breast milk from her home and deliver it to the foster carers for bottle-feeding”.

This attitude, reducing Mrs Brookes to nothing but an incubator and a set of teats is both utterly grotesque and redolent of Andrea Dworkin’s “faming model” of female subjugation (Right-Wing Women, New York, Perigee, 1983): “The farming model relates to motherhood, women as a class planted with the male seed and harvested; women used for the fruit they bear, like trees; women who run the gamut from prized cows to mangy dogs, from highbred horses to sad beasts of burden” (p174).

No matter how unpalatable the realisation might be: “In general, the euphemisms of religion and romantic love keep women from ever recognising the farming model as having to do directly and personally with them. Modern women do not think of themselves as cows, nor as land that the man seeds; but male-headed marriage incorporates both these vivid traditions of female definition; and the laws have been built on these same images and ideas of what women are for; and the real history of women has had as its centre the actual use of women as cows and as land” (p175).

Francis at The Shadow of the Olive Tree quotes Camilla Cavendish of The Times on the perniciousness of vague terminology and how the authorities can interpret elastically to suit their purposes: “You can see why the category exists. Ill-treatment comes in many forms, not just cigarette burns. But in that nebulous phrase lurks the potential for great injustice.

‘Emotional abuse’ has no strict definition in British law. Yet it now accounts for an astounding 21 per cent of all children registered as needing protection, up from 14 per cent in 1997”.

As if systematic state-organised baby-snatching were not worrying enough in itself, the gravity of the matter was compounded by the local council implicated in this scandal scrambling to suppress the recording in a face-saving exercise (specifically through instigating its removal from YouTube for terms of use violation).

The metaphor of the viral spread of information across the Internet has already become a tired cliché, which, whilst admirably encompassing the notion of speed, also carries the negative connotation of pathology. Blogging at its best is gloriously subversive, deflating of pomposity and scathing of arrogance. It is precisely the “anarchy” of the Internet (for which read capacity to blow carefully constructed PR images out of the water), its unregulated existence that makes politicians’ blood run cold and it is surely our duty as bloggers both to resist all attempts at censorship, to expose injustices and not spare the powers-that-be embarrassment where it is richly deserved.

The deeper implication of the affair lies in what the Daily Mail and its stable mates refer to as “nanny-stating”, which boils down to a presumption of incompetence, an excuse for the State to extend its reach further and further into our lives, whereby trained childcare experts are deemed better qualified to judge what constitutes a happy home than parents themselves. A second aspect can perhaps be traced back to the import of litigation culture to our shores, stifling the much-vaunted British value of “common sense” – there shall be no space on which the light of definition does not shine, shutting off all opportunity to plead ignorance and wring a compensation payout out of the State.

Such news represents the perfect antidote to an ex-pat’s twinges of homesickness. The prospect of constant surveillance looms larger by the day (although many will no doubt dismiss fears of creeping totalitarianisation as scare-mongering by a Press enslaved to sensationalism). What never ceases to astound me is that hardly anybody in Britain seems to be batting an eyelid at what amounts to a war of attrition on fundamental freedoms. One of the enlightened few is Jonathan Calder at Liberal England who rightly shudders at the idea of installing CCTV in drug addicts’ homes. He bases his critique on a piece in The Herald informing its readers that Professor Neil McKeganey, head of the centre for Drug Misuse Research at Glasgow University (notorious for urging that women addicts be paid to take long-term contraception to stop such undesirables from breeding) who justifies his demand for the complete erasure of any boundary between public and private on the grounds that we have become used to the proliferation of CCTV cameras in public spaces and have recognised their efficacy in combating crime. Mercifully social workers objected, although they did so for reasons of practicability, rather than on principle. Calder correctly suspects that any such initiative will snowball, initially targeting one deviant group and, once our sensibilities have been numbed, more and more behaviours will be classified as deviant. Our prisons are overflowing as it is, so why not convert Airstrip One into one enormous Panopticon?

Calder laments the debasement of our culture and shift in meanings of literary referents. Instead of evoking Orwell’s chilling nightmare, Big Brother is now synonymous with the brash vulgarity of a mass-broadcast freak show: “One of the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union is that we no longer have such a strong sense of what we are not like. The other day the Daily Mail had a front-page story about data from traffic cameras being used for other purposes by the police. The headline YOU CAN’T ESCAPE BIG BROTHER just did not work. Anyone reading it would assume that someone had tried to get out of Channel Four’s house and been brought back”.

The younger generation has been deprived of the cognitive tools to stand up to oppression: “So if we don’t read Orwell any more, where are the cultural resources that will give today’s young readers an instinctive feeling for what tyranny is like and why we should oppose it?”

Politicians are not exactly renowned for their modesty (though their insatiable hunger for publicity can be attributed in part to the imperatives of a media-saturated society), but there are limits even to ruthless self-promotion. Jonathan Wallace, Liberal Democrat councillor of the eponymous site, catches out Sharon Hodgson sponsoring a motion devised to heap praise on herself.

Lord Tom McNally at Liberal Democrat Voice pays tribute to the recently deceased Tim Garden: “My sense of homour can veer towards the schoolboy, so calling one of the highest ranking officers in the Royal Airforce ‘Biggles’ could have tried the patience of lesser men. But Tim Garden was instantly one of the boys without ever losing his dignity or a certain sheen of quality about everything he did”.

On the same collaborative site, Mark Pack debunks a fake Facebook profile, that of Norman Lamb, in a tale of political skulduggery and sabotage, a dastardly Tory masquerading as a Liberal Democrat no less.

Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads, covers the same story, complementing Pack’s detective work.

Having gained a fascinating insight into the seamier side of politics and the abuses of a social networking tool, we digress for a moment to a more innocent variety of mischief-making. Tim Malbon at The Daily Social fell for a hoax perpetrated by Oli Young, an Australian web developer, who claimed that if enough people joined his Facebook community he would christen his son Spider-Pig. I must confess that my own immediate reaction was to despair at the mind-boggling idiocy and irresponsibility of certain parents (isn’t there some poor child out there named after an entire football team after all?), as well as at the “Go on, I dare you” mentality of those encouraging him. The entire episode amounted to nothing more than a publicity stunt for his business, as he subsequently explained.

It did permit him to arrive at some interesting conclusions about the “viral growth rate” phenomenon alluded to earlier: “We learnt some important things during the last four weeks, that internet memes are uncontrollable and unpredictable, that viral marketing is hit and miss, and if you try too hard you’ll more than likely fail. There’s an organic growth behind memes like this, at first it kicked along slowly, 100, then 1,000 then 10,000. The movement between countries and growth was interesting, first US High Schools, then US Colleges, then Britain then Europe. We never advertised, we never spammed, it was all word of mouth, the concept sold itself. Content is king, even in web 2.0”.

And, in a context where smug journalists are too quick to dismiss our lack of professionalism or ethics, sensing the erosion of their authority: “I also learnt about the gullibility and laziness of main stream media when it comes to ‘teh internets’”. The reporters who actually bothered to take the time to contact him personally did not run the item, as he communicated to them that it was a mere red herring (though it is disappointing that none of them latched on to its implications about the nature of blogging).

Philip Booth of Ruscombe Green takes problems with the Oldbury power station as the starting point for a thoughtful discussion about the true costs of investing in nuclear energy.

Finally in this section Susanne at Suz Blog marks the publication of Serve a Liberal Helping, a fund-raising cookbook crammed with mouth-watering treats from the recipe books of local activists along with some by more prominent politicians to boost sales. The full satirical potential of such an undertaking has yet to be exploited by enterprising bloggers, so allow me to suggest David Cameron’s Limp Lettuce Salad…


Perspicacious as ever, Natalie at Philobiblon excoriates the pathetic sentence meted out to a wife-batterer, which does nothing to challenge the trivialisation of domestic violence. That justice is blinkered by class prejudice rather than impartially blind shines through: the “respectable” tormenter is depicted as an aberration, as he fails to fit the stereotype of boozing knuckle-dragger from the sink estates. Note how in the newspaper coverage his income defines him, people who earn that much just don’t do that kind of thing – and such pervasive attitudes may account for the judge’s leniency: “But the judge said it was the circumstances of the marriage that had provoked Read and that now those circumstances had gone, sending him to prison would ‘help no one’.

What’s the bet the ‘circumstances’ of his next relationship will be, to him, equally provoking? About 100% I’d reckon”.

Kate Smurthwaite at Cruella Blog eloquently picks apart the aims of Fathers 4 Justice, winning this week’s prize for the most pithy and pungent title, Return of the Fuckwits, which beautifully captures the sentiments evoked upon hearing the organisation’s name. Dressing up their demands in the rhetoric of fairness and equality their programme is all about control, intimidation and the erosion of hard-won rights for women. For example, Smurthwaite displays healthy scepticism concerning their call for mediation between couples to be made mandatory before custody battles are referred to the courts: “This is what we would all commonly call bullying. Mediation is and always has been available to those who wish to make use of it. Making it compulsory means that women who have been victims of physical or psychological abuse during their relationships are forced to either accept the demands of the father of their children or face intimidation and a risk of further abuse in the mediation process. Everybody and anybody in a legal situation has the right to take the matter directly to court”.


Sharon Howard at Early Modern Notes ponders university degrees and “Mickey Mouse” courses with a detailed and critical examination of the Taxpayers’Alliance’s study The Non-Courses Report, which pinpoints its methodological weaknesses. Unsurprisingly, the criteria for deciding what belongs under the heading “Mickey Mouse” course are not free from an unsavoury element of snobbery. Passage of time and inclusion in the literary canon: “There are specific choices, though, that puzzle me. They really have it in for all Equine-related courses, but why, since this doesn’t generally extend to Sports Studies/Sciences courses? What is it about horses that puts them beyond the pale? And then, for once there are remarkably few cultural studies targets. But actually, the sparsity of these raises questions about the examples that have been chosen. Why does a course on ’science fiction and culture’ have so much less credibility than more traditional literary/cultural offerings such as Romanticism or 18th-century novels? (On further investigation, it sounds like an interesting course to me, in fact; it’s not just science fiction, but, by the sound of it, an interdisciplinary exploration of the roles and images of science in modern society)”.

Zenobia at Mind the Gap! discusses the dilemmas of ethical consumerism, more particularly the discrepancy between the ethos of genuine social concern and a commitment to eschewing exploitation and the subtext of the advertising campaigns: “(…) the message of all of this advertising is that brown people in exotic locations enjoy all that hard labour, specifically because they want to offer a great product to the white consumers. That’s what they were born to do. It’s like they popped out of the Amazonian soil themselves and, kazam, offered you a handful of cocoa beans or a load of mangoes and papayas, as you drift down from the heavens”.

Purchasing such products may do little more than salve our consciences, however, and companies are certainly eager to cash in on our scruples: “What exactly does Divine mean with its slogan ‘Eating Poverty History’, when its advertising still manages to endorse glaring inequalities between the manual labourers producing the goods and the people consuming them? Simply that people should be kept out of poverty enough to sustain their farms, so they can keep producing, for our financial gain and enjoyment? Is that really meant to be enough? Because other than that, there seems to be a tacit (or maybe not quite so tacit) agreement that some people are in their place harvesting cocoa beans so someone can make them into Maya Gold chocolate, and they can become all grizzled and picturesque for when they pose for photos in bright ethnic dress, while others of us are meant to enjoy the fruits of their labour, because we’re worth it.

And this is revolutionary how exactly? If you were transported back in time to Arthur Balfour’s government and you got to be a fly on the wall as they debated over business in the colonies and the place of the brown person biblically speaking, this is the kind of stuff you would be hearing. Oh, there would be much more talk of God and whether or not to administer floggings, that’s for sure, but the basic narrative would be the same. After all, it’s in the interest of any company to keep its staff in full working order. There were plenty of people who thought indigenous people in the colonies shouldn’t be mistreated back then too, mostly for that reason, but not mistreating someone doesn’t mean you think they should have equal rights to you”.

Jim Jay at The Daily (Maybe) offers a stimulating analysis of The Bourne Ultimatum, one in a series of films probing the theme of “violent men who are haunted by their unremembered past”.

Rather than brushing it aside as a mindless action flick, Jay looks beyond the glossy surface to reflect on the more profound issues it raises: “But the philosophical question – who am I – what’s my real identity? – is both intriguing and, as one might expect, a question I’m at odds with. These films rely on the assumption that there is a “real” you separate from the person who does the shopping, idly thinks about sex with the neighbours and dances like a rather inebriated chicken. That there can be a you other than that, one that even you do not know about, is a very problematic idea for me.

It seems to me that we all have potential to reshape who we are and are all products of our past. We are simultaneously in a process of change and continuation. We are not identical to our past and yet do not have the possibility of becoming *anything* only those things we can get to from where we are now”.

On a collective level: “What I like about the film is that whilst Bourne is grappling with his own obscured depths he is simultaneously grappling with the West’s hidden guilt. It’s knowledge that have we all been complicit in terrible acts and that we have volunteered to be brainwashed to cover up those difficult truths that are too horrific to live with. We have to look away because if we were to stare deep into the mirror we’d be compelled to act, and to act risks defeat at the hands of a merciless enemy – ourselves”.

Natalie at My London, Your London, regales us with an informative review of the Faith, Narrative and Desire exhibition: “In Indian paintings psychological insight was regarded as more interesting than photographic reality – the aim is to convey information and elicit an emotional response, rather than accurately depict a single scene”.

Pliable at On An Overgrown Path celebrates three years of blogging on classical and contemporary music with an entertaining assortment of posts from the archives and a brief post on Louise Fryer’s gaffes.

Returning by way of conclusion to identity, Peter Ashley at Unmitigated England treats us to a fine photograph of two icons of Britishness side by side: a red pillar box and a wall box of similar vintage.


Tim Worstall, the scourge of the scammers, alerts us to the latest ploy to raid our bank accounts whilst making a very valid observation on the laxity of the dead tree Press when it comes to vetting the advertisements it prints.

Peter Sanderson at Earthquake Cove contemplates out of body experiences: “I wonder whether life is enhanced or diminished by dissecting the universe and discovering its secrets. I’m torn on this one. Half of me yearns for a world which is mysterious and sacred – where the sun is a great God which brings life to the world, the night sky is a great theatre of cosmic forces, and the dreamworld is a gateway to other dimensions. And yet the other half of me is fascinated by the scientific quest to explain all”.

A hint of wistfulness suffuses his surrender to rationality: “I guess ultimately we live in a culture which is led by the scientific method and the banishing of superstition. We know what the sun is, and it is futile to try and believe otherwise – however appealing that might be.
However conducive to human contentment it might be to maintain a mystical view of the cosmos, to do so is like an Amazonian tribe living on the edge of an expanding city. Your world is being encroached on everyday, and there is nowhere to retreat to”.

Pandemian passes on a cake recipe, a godsend for the self-professed non-cook (I empathise with her predicament as my entire culinary repertoire consists of pasta and cauliflower cheese, both of which involve little more than boiling water and pouring over a sauce) with customary wit: “I do not cook. This is for two reasons; a) I can’t be bothered and b) I don’t generally care for food unless it comes wrapped in paper and covered in salt, vinegar and occasionally that fluorescent orange burger sauce that they make in disused quarries just north of Dungeness. The latter means I’ve never been particularly troubled by the former unless my parents are visiting and I need to pretend there is something in my kitchen other than tea bags and half empty jars of Marmite lest they carry me off and force feed me things made from suet for the next six months. Such then was my faint but palpable surprise when I woke up one morning a couple of months ago with an unassailable desire to make cake, particularly perplexing considering the only baking I had been known to do previously was with a packet of Betty Crocker’s brownie mix and a special ingredient that you won’t find in Tescos next to the dried peel”.

The Overnight Editor intertwines two tales of nocturnal encounters, one with a Poplar Hawk Moth, the other with and woman who flitted by briefly, his sensuous prose always a delight: “There and big, way too furry-big, still-silent and weird. Butterfly but with night soul, keeps his-her grey brown mystery and doesn’t flap, doesn’t show, not feared.

Precious wingdust is flutter-splatter pitter-patter pattern at a print. Dream vector, feeds on sleep?”

Mark Myers at Nee Naw gives us an induction course in the fraught art of allocating ambulances: “The scariest thing about allocating is that you are responsible for any decisions that you make and, while there are guidelines and protocols for most things, they don’t cover every eventuality. And anyway, if a patient dies, it won’t be much consolation to their family if you stand up and say ‘but I was just following protocol’. The consequence of this is that I feel terribly anxious until I get every single call off my screen and I treat every call as if it were a national emergency, even if they are obviously a load of rubbish. I’m told this feeling passes after a while”.

Lady Bracknell draws a lesson from a shopping expedition about one of the more absurd aspects of our civilisation’s reliance on technology (and how it fatally undermines our ability to think for ourselves): “Whilst not wishing to give the appearance of being an out and out technophobe, Lady Bracknell cannot help but point out that, when tills were mechanical, she cannot recall any shopkeeper ever being entirely incapable of calculating a price for any of the items he was holding out for sale”.

Matt W at The Wardman Wire parts company with iTunes, makes an offer you surely can’t refuse… and brings a smile to our faces by directing us to the cartoon of the week.

Having meandered back and forth it seems only appropriate to finish with Diamond Geezer recounting a walk along the River Lea, a sedate amble guaranteed to transport you away from urban strife: “It was possible to trace by eye the route of the river for several miles, just by following the army of pylons stalking towards the horizon. These pylons make fishing difficult – there were signs everywhere barring anglers from casting any line that might cause accidental electrocution. But horses nibbling grass around pylons’ feet in the riverside meadows didn’t seem to mind, and elderberries grew perfectly ripe beneath the silent hum”.

Posted: 27th, August 2007 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink