Bob Dylan’s drivel

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-23-42-55Dalrymple notes that the nasal whine of Bob Dylan, the popular singer, is

authentically the sound of spoilt middle-class-adolescent self-pity.

And his supposed poetry is

not merely bad, but authentically awful.

His lines are

sub–Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Enduring some of Bob Dylan’s atrocious doggerel, Dalrymple is reminded of what Dr Johnson said when asked whether he thought that many men could have written the poems of Ossian. ‘Yes, sir,’ he said, ‘many men, many women, and many children.

Perhaps next year, says Dalrymple,

the Nobel prize in literature could be awarded to Hallmark Cards.

Britain’s spiv economy, polity and society


Tony Blair: capo di tutti spivvi

The UK House of Commons, Dalrymple reports,

wants to strip Sir Philip Green of his knighthood because it alleges that he is a spiv.

Dalrymple is

perfectly prepared to believe that he is a spiv, though I cannot claim to have followed his career closely. At the very least he seems to be a man given to vulgar show.

The Saturday supplement of the Financial Times newspaper: for people with more money than taste

The Saturday supplement of the Financial Times newspaper: for people with more money than taste

But Dalrymple asks:

How many members of the British parliament and government are spivs, or hope to become spivs at the end of their political careers? Two of our last three prime ministers were clearly of spiv calibre, one of them indeed to spivs what the capo dei capi is to the Mafia. If Parliament deprived them of their pensions, then it might have done something useful.

Once you grasp the concept of spivvery,

much about modern Britain becomes explicable. You have only to read the Financial Times’ Saturday supplement, How To Spend It, to understand how much of our economy is in essence a spiv economy. The supplement is aimed not at people with more money than sense, but at a group of people far, far worse: people with more money than taste, for whom Sir Philip is a leader of fashion.

David Cameron: clearly of spiv calibre

David Cameron: clearly of spiv calibre

We have, Dalrymple points out,

raised up spivs to the summit of our economy and society.

Moreoever, Britain has a tax system

that turns accountancy into the queen of the sciences.


Sir Philip Green: leader of fashion

Who is the Donald’s Dulcinea?


1955, Picasso

If, writes Dalrymple, the Knight of the Sad Countenance

had been caught saying the things about his Dulcinea del Toboso that Mr Trump said about women, that would have been a cause of shock and surprise.

If anyone decided not to vote for the Donald

because of what he was caught on video saying a few years ago, that person must have had such little insight into human character that it calls into question the propriety of his having the vote at all.

Suppose, says Dalrymple,

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-23-17-42that you had been asked before the  video was released what Mr Trump would have said about women in the circumstances in which it was recorded. Would you have thought that Mr. Trump would say:

They walk in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in their aspect and their eyes.         ?

I do not think so.

Dalrymple asks if anyone could really have been shocked or surprised by the Donald’s remarks about women. There was, says Dalrymple,

something ersatz and opportunistic about the indignation that greeted their diffusion.

The good old days


Dalrymple speaks (from 3:15) of his nostalgia for the Syria of Hafez al-Assad (pictured with friend), when it was still possible to understand who was massacring whom

Efflorescence of violence


Dalrymple notes that according to a 44-year-old retired pop singer called Liam Gallagher (who is supposed once to have been an idol of the young), only boring, inauthentic florists fail to assault their customers for no reason whatever

Why employers give British job applicants a wide berth

No sensible business in a service industry, writes Dalrymple,

would choose a young Briton if he could have a young Pole; the young Pole is not only likely to have a good work ethic and refined manners, he is likely to be able to add up and — most humiliating of all — to speak better English than the Briton.


Foreign workers are better than British workers, Dalrymple points out — something everyone outside the BBC knows and understands

The Sunday Times: fat paper, thin gruel

Picking up the Sunday Times of London, Dalrymple admires

the consummate skill with which its editors manage to pack so little into so much space. It requires a certain ingenuity and brazenness to fill so many pages every week.


May: another mediocrity

It takes a certain gift, writes Dalrymple,

to combine cliché with error, but Theresa May — to judge by speech to the Conservative party conference — appears to have it in full. In so far as the speech did not consist of the most hackneyed and empty phrases, it could have been delivered by any Labour leader before Jeremy Corbyn, and part of it even by Mr Corbyn himself.

May, says Dalymple,

wants, and I suspect is perfectly able, to turn Britain into a macrocosm of the giant official inquiry into sexual abuse that she set up when home secretary, which as we can see has been so very successful. To quote the kind of language Mrs May (among other politicians) employs, it delivers a lot of value — to the lawyers.


This year’s maltodextrin harvest has been exceptionally good


Water, soybean oil, tarragon vinegar, olive oil, maltodextrin, salt, dehydrated onion, sugar, mono- and diglycerides, spices, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated red and green bell pepper, nonfat dry milk, xantham, guar (food fibre), lemon juice powder.

Dalrymple doubts whether,

in the history of human cuisine, any individual cook has made salad dressing in this way.

He does not think

one person in a hundred would read the list of ingredients and say, ‘Ah, so naturally fresh!’

Preparing for take-off

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-08-46-37Settling down for the flight to New York, Dalrymple watches an instructional film about procedures to be undertaken in the event of an emergency, such as crashing into the sea. He writes:

It was one of those airlines whose safety video made it seem as if it would be a positive pleasure to crash, a charming escapade in the middle of the Atlantic. The air hostess blew the whistle to attract attention more as if she were on a catwalk modelling a dress than as if she were about to be drowned: though I believe that death by exposure is quite swift and not unpleasant as deaths go.

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