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THE CUTTING EDGE

GOD’S CONMAN – The Reverend James Currie

The Church of Scotland decided to sell church property a good many years ago, including the manse (the priest’s house) nf Dunlop, Ayrshire, Scotland. I knew the building well, and I wish I could have afforded to buy it at the time. In the event, Gregor Fisher bought it. I’ve always been very fond of him, such a good comedian. I also had the opportunity to enter the building, which was set in its own spacious grounds, just off the old high street in Dunlop.

At that time the dwelling was the home of the Reverend James Currie. James, a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, was such a wonderful man – intelligent, erudite, quick-witted and a speaker of great ability. Indeed, he was renowned as a Burns after dinner speaker throughout Scotland. It was he who baptized my son Winston when he was about 4 years old.

The first time I met him was when I went to the manse to ask him to perform the ceremony. I rang the bell and his house-keeper came to the door. I introduced myself and she ushered me in. ‘Now Mr Jacob, please go into the drawing room, but you mustn’t say a word to Reverend Currie until he is ready for you’. I was intrigued. She opened the door to the room and I went in. There was Currie, dressed in full Rangers colours and shorts, sitting in front of the television, watching the end of a Rangers vs Celtic match. He had one of those old-fashioned wooden rattles in his hand and used it a lot – much to my annoyance, I must admit.

He briefly glanced up at me and sputtered: ‘Help yourself to a Sherry’. I did, on more than one occasion, I don’t think he noticed, he was too engrossed in the match. Thankfully it was over soon and I spoke to him about the baptism. That went ahead smoothly some weeks later. Our son was dressed in a wee kilt bearing the Sinclair tartan (although he was entitled to wear the MacDonald one as well), a sporran and I even bought him a miniature set of bagpipes, all still well preserved.

Currie wrote a book, a signed copy of which I have, ‘God’s Conman’ it is called. I give below a link to a number of speeches he gave. He was a wonderful man and I am proud to have made his acquaintance.

Here are some highlights from speeches he made:

http://vimeo.com/18524210


LADY THATCHER’S FUNERAL

After the bombing in Boston, security services here must be very nervous about tomorrow’s event in London, the funeral service for Lady Thatcher. If ever an excellent opportunity for a major terrorist outrage presents itself, this is it. I have little doubt that there will be protests, but somehow I don’t believe any major act of terrorism will take place. It would be easy carry out such, but terrorists are just not what they used to be. But then, what is?

OPIUM PRODUCTION IN AFGHANISTAN:

Why am I not surprised that Opium production has been at its highest level since when British troops went into Helmand Province to try and stop its production. I won’t even go down that road, wrote about it some years ago. But why should we be dismayed, especially the USA? This is market forces at work. Raw Opium prices are high and the Afghanis have adopted American free market principles. The US should be delighted.

SYRIA

Whilst the fall of the regime in Syria is inevitable, it is taking rather a long time. It is inevitable for one simply reason. If the regime, with all the weaponry at its disposal, has been unable to quell the insurrections, it cannot prevail. Eventually the ruling clique will realize this and dispose of Bashar al-Assad. So far no doubt it has been impressed upon them that his survival is their survival, but that will change.

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION ON THE NHS ?

A preposterous concept? Perhaps not.

I looked at the BBC Television program Casualty, as I do on the odd occasion. One of the sub-plots today involved the issue of FGM, or female circumcision. I was astonished at the casual attitude taken by the hospital staff at the prospect of a young girl being thus operated upon. One of the doctors said Social Services, or indeed the police, for this is a crime, should not be involved, as it is a cultural issue. Indeed it is a cultural issue, Female Genital Mutilation is alien to our culture.

I myself have known and met over the years a good number of women who have been thus mutilated. I have even, albeit some years ago, come across young girls who were sent abroad to have the operation. To my shame I did not report the matter, although at the time it was not a crime. The act making this illegal did not come into force until 2003.

It is only a television plot, but it sends out totally the wrong message. The producers of the program, the BBC and others should not be allowed to put forward such views. I am against censorship, but I would make an exception on an issue such as this. So will we one day see FMG on the NHS to pander to cultural sensitivities? I wouldn’t be surprised. If the producers of the program offer in their defence that the issue was portrayed in this way in order to stimulate debate, then I would argue there is no need for any such debate. There is quite simply no place in this country for parents who allow such a primitive, and indeed harmful practice, to be carried out upon children.

LADY THATCHER

She had to die sooner or later, given her poor health it was to be sooner. I get the impression political parties have been rather wrong-footed by this, local council elections being on their mind. I look forward to seeing what stance Cameron will take. So far he has issued but one brief statement. Had she been compus mentis these last few years, I have no doubt she would have aired her disappointment with Cameron and the way the Tory party has gone. Cameron must desperately be looking for an angle by which to latch onto the positive aspects of what she will be remembered for, and associate himself with these, and there are some. He will find it difficult. UKIP on the other hand may find it easier to do so, after all, many members of this party are former die-hard Thatcherites. They can draw parallels between Nigel Farage’s steely determination to retain sovereignty of the UK with Thatcher’s own desire to do so, as also his outspokenness on a number of issues. I’m not sure where it leaves Labour – nowhere probably.

I did find her use of the Royal ‘we’ highly irritating.

UKIP

The euphoria following UKIP’s excellent showing in the Eastleigh by-election has now well and truly worn off. Council elections beckon, and UKIP are busy canvassing for these. Poll ratings have stabilized.

What UKIP now desperately need to do is to promote a diversity of policies and get away from the perception that they are but a one issue party; that perception is still there with the majority of voters. They are, however, making some headway here, especially with immigration, and it is no coincidence that Nigel Farage and the UKIP election circus is in North Lincolnshire today, ending their day in Boston, where immigration issues are high on the local agenda. I do note however that Farage has toned down his gambolling style and is speaking more slowly and concertedly, at least that is the impression I get; this particularly in respect of immigration. He has here to tread a very fine line, it wouldn’t do to be associated in any way with the right wing extremism of the BNP for example.

Can this protest vote, and let us have no illusions about this, this is largely what it was, can this protest vote be garnered in the next election which is not that far away to gain seats in parliament. I doubt it, or if so but a handful.

He has quite rightly understood what is needed as far as getting votes in concerned. UKIP attract votes from all political parties, even the Lib Dems, but it is those who have never voted before, or have not done so for a considerable time, that need to be persuaded to come to the ballot box and vote UKIP; those who feel they are disenfranchised. It is a point I have made for so many years and it can be done, up to a point UKIP have already done so, but there is a long way to go. It is these people that need to be targeted ,more than any other, and they could win an election. Disillusionment by such people with the main parties has become ever more apparent, one need only look at recent turn-outs for elections.

There has been talk of a deal with the Tories. It would be practical, but nothing but a short term measure. It would be the proverbial thin end of the wedge for UKIP. But the fact is that the Tories, by having their vote split or diluted in many marginal constituencies, may lose the next election to an opposition that is quite frankly farcical, and this does not bode well for the country.

I wait with interest the results of the forthcoming election. On a personal level I rather like Farage. He smokes too much, drinks too much red wine and is married to a German. Rather like me, except my mother was the German.

THE DAILY WAIL

Looking at the Daily Mail today I see their front page headline is “Epidemic of Health Tourists costs us Billions”. I find this utterly revolting. Of course they costs us billions, they have been costing us billions for a good many years now. Why bring this up only now? As for this Government, they should put a stop to this immediately; it is easily done.

Leafing through the paper we find “We spend more on aid than Germany”. Whether we do or not is not of interest to me, what is of interest is that our aid budget for 2012 was £9 billion. This should immediately be drastically reduced, which leads me on to Pakistan, an unworthy recipient of much aid. I suspect the Foreign Office is keen to retain our relationship with Pakistan, as fraught as that is, but given the ever increasing ties with China, I suggest let the Chinese make up the loss. This money does not in any case go to those who need it most. By all means let the Government and other organisations here support Pakistani NGOs, but directly, not through Government channels, where much money is demonstrably siphoned off.

Moving on, I read that the police are going to classify attacks on Goths and punks as hate crimes. OK, I can understand Goths, they’re cute and cuddly, but not Punks. I always thought ‘Punch a Punk’ was the thing to do ever since punkism reareds its head.

Page 15, yes I got that far, has the feature “Why do the Police now think it’s OK to have sex in public?” All I can say is, I should be so lucky.

“From Elite to Precariat”, the new jargon filled British Class System. What a lot of tosh. My son would appear to belong to the elite, whilst I wander between the Established Middle Class and the Precariat.

Oh yes, we are told that much household waste, separated by us into recyclables and non-recyclables,  is sent overseas for dumping into land-fill sites. What on earth is new with this? It has been going on for a very long time, and not just here. In Germany also, Germany, the country that initiated this, the same applies. I know that to my own personal knowledge.

Enough!

TWO NEW PRELATES

Two new prelates have recently taken office; I rather like the sound of both. Our new Archbishop shows signs of independent political thought, good for him. But then so did his predecessor – briefly. I wonder how long it will last. But it is good to have the top religious in this country who has come from real life, rather than get to the top through the ranks. I read that his father was a former US socialite and bootlegger, and also that he asked his wife to keep her eyes on him so he doesn’t drink too much. Well, he has gone up in my estimation.

As for the Pope, he shows signs of being quite radical, but I wonder how long before the Catholic establishment in the Vatican pull back on the reigns. I look forward to developments.

THE FOLLY OF FACEBOOK

I know I have touched on this subject before, but can’t resist writing about it again. I have been on Facebook for a few years, but it is only for the last 18 months or so that I have become active on it.  It is a surreal world, an artificial construct that comes not without its dangers, and yet for many it appears to be becoming the only world they know.

I have found it interesting from a sociological point of view. I have a limited number of friends, indeed I have limited them purposely, having unfriended many more over the years than I now have as friends.  I do, however, look at other people’s timelines that are public, and it is surprising how many are public.

It’s quite extraordinary what people post. It no doubt reflects their views and opinions, but also to a large degree their emotions and feelings, and is, as far as I am concerned, overall quite enjoyable. I have to say, however, that I am sick of reading such, as what I can only describe as, moronic posts about autism, typically click here and share if you ‘don’t like autism’. Well for God’s sake, who does like autism. The same goes for click and share if ‘you love your son or daughter’;  click and share if you  don’t agree with paedophilia, and so on, the list of such sickening posts is endless.

And then there are aphorisms, oh my God, those sickening, sweet aphorisms for the most part. I wish people would place them under their own names, but no, links are provided to other pages containing these. This is no doubt due to a number of factors, but principally that people do not have the confidence to use their own name, perhaps for some an in-built inferiority complex, but also that if a great many other people like the page, the sentiments expressed must be good, a sort of ‘go with the herd’ principal. It’s very sad.

What people don’t seem to realize is that such pages are established, typically on emotive subjects, in order to get people to share them and like them. The more likes and thus views they get, the more money can be obtained via advertising.  That is why such nauseating pages are established day after day as fodder for these mindless people who perpetuate  such pages.

In any case, why can’t people write something original, rather than refer to other people’s writing with a link. It is because they have nothing to say, original or not, or is it because they have the inability to communicate? It really doesn’t matter if the latter, an honest opinion expressed poorly is still worth much more than no opinion at all expressed well.  As for the former, I believe everyone has something to say.

I find the cliques on Facebook most amusing, the cabals rather than the official group pages that exist. You have any number of musician cliques, I know, I visit one regularly. It is like rather like being in a kindergarten at times.

Individuals from all social strata take part in Facebook, although few of my real life friends do. What people reveal  about themselves is sometimes quite astonishing. I myself have few  inhibitions about what I say, although this can be tempered, and it is, by judicious use of mis- and dis-information. I never cease to be amazed at the pages of people I know, some I have known since my childhood, and yet I don’t recognize them at all from their timelines. Well, why not, as long as no harm is intended.

What is disturbing is that Facebook, and indeed other such sites, are able to profile one. So far this has been used to target advertising, or at least that is what we are told. I am not so sure. Call me paranoid if you will, but I don’t believe this augers well for the future. Governments are beginning to take an interest in all this, but whether they have the staying power and will to control the likes of Facebook  remains to be seen. It’s time to log onto Facebook!

As a postscript I will say that I have made the acquaintance of a number of interesting and pleasant individuals.

FRAULEIN MERKEL

I was made aware of this photograph a few days ago. The woman on the left is said to be Angela Merkel. She certainly looks the part I must say. As for her appearing in the altogether, naturism was quite popular in the former DDR (East Germany). Perhaps it would be rather a good idea if all politicians had to submit a nude photo of themselves before being selected/elected. I cannot imagine what Maggie Thatcher looked like; if some of her former colleagues are to be believed, they regarded her as rather tasty. Teresa May? Yes, I can imagine she would have looked quite attractive in her younger days. But let’s not be sexist and restrict this to women only. John Major? Tony Blair? Well, not Tony Blair, after all the pretty boy with his long hair was known as Miranda.

Perhaps former school mates and universities chums of Cameron are scrabbling through their photo albums to see what they can find. I have only ever had one nude photo taken of me, it is charming, and when I find it I will share it post haste.

NICK CLEGG

I am pleased to see that the Lib Dems have not only lost the plot, they have buried in so deep, I doubt that they will ever be able to disinter it. To hear Nick Clegg of all people say that they will ‘crack down on people who abuse our visa system, especially from those coming from difficult countries’ takes the biscuit. And then to have Vince Cable contradict this is farcical in the extreme. I have been writing about this since 1995.

Of course, we then have to have Conservatives giving off a sound bite, more like a fart actually, that a bond will be taken from people coming here on visas, which will be refunded when they leave the country; this is quite , is absolutely asinine. The bond is for £1000. For God’s sake, people will pay 10 or 20 times that amount to be smuggled into this country. No, let the bond be for £10000. If the person defaults, then make this money over to bounty hunters, who will track down such illegal immigrants. That is a practical and efficient way forward.

ADULTERATED FOODS

The fuss about horse meat is but the tip of an iceberg. I would hate to think of what goes into some of our other processed foodstuffs.  Producers of the same have been under great pressure for some time to reduce costs, and what better way than adulterate the food with cheaper raw ingredients wherever possible, and it would appear to have been possible.  It amuses me to read that even Waitrose, that ‘superior’ retailer, has been affected. Nothing is sacrosanct.

I would not be surprised if we see dog and cat meat, perhaps even rat meat turning up in food products, and God knows what else, although I suspect that such a discovery will be hushed up as it would do immeasurable damage to the food industry.  I don’t believe for one moment that major, name producers would stoop this low, but others would in my opinion. Let us not forget, this is nothing new, it was written about over 100 years ago (vide Upton Sinclair).

Which brings me onto bush meat which is freely available in England, in our towns and cities of course. Much publicity was given to this for a short period by one of our London health inspectors, from memory something like 5 – 6 years ago, who found massive evidence of such meats being sold in London street markets and retail outlets.  Yes, a number of traders were prosecuted, but then it went very quiet around this issue. I suspect Tony Blair’s government was prepared to turn a blind eye so as not to offend ethnic minorities, who were the perpetrators of this. I myself recall a Nigerian restaurant in North West London, just up the road from Hendon central, proudly displaying bush meat on its menu, posted outside the shop. They were offering endangered species of snail and ape meat. I also knew of a number of retailers in Green Lanes, North London offering the same.

CHURCH OF ENGLAND

Indeed, good luck to him. It illuminates the problems that that institution, the Church of England, is facing, most particularly falling attendances in the majority of churches. C of E priests are simply not pro-active enough. I have never been visited at home by my local priest, both here and in London, if nothing else than simply to introduce himself. I had a rabbi call in London once thinking I was Jewish. If a member of a rabbi’s flock is faltering, that rabbi will be around like a shot to take an interest; it is similar with Muslims, but not with the C of E. Oh, I am sure there are many exceptions, but I suspect these are to be found in villages and outlying communities, not in our towns and cities, where the bulk of the population live. Instead C of E priests have become accustomed to live in their own cosy, comfortable little world. Presumably they take the view that ‘you know where we are, if you like our product, come and buy’. I have more respect for Jehovah’s Witnesses, at least they get off their backside and try and promote their ‘religion’, as unpalatable as it is for me.