At the End of the Day

It’s been the sort of day here to tempt the suggestion that we are but a few weeks away from Spring. Crystal clear, warm enough to work in the garden, and now dark enough – in the deepest countryside – to stare up at the stars and wonder once again about the mysteries of the Universe.

As I drew the curtains tonight – ten minutes later than last week, Hurrah! – I noticed a plane coursing through the sky. It was passing under the Great Plough. And I thought to myself how dangerous it would be if that random collection of stars really was a plough. Can you imagine it? A dirty great rusty, smelly, covered in ox-dung plough some three trillion light years across, just sitting there in the way of God knows what? No wonder we don’t get any alien visits: “We tried to get through, honest we did, but there was this feckin’ great bit of early agrarian mechanisation in the way”.

Some people will do anything to excuse not visiting the rellies.

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I’m watching the HSBC Panorama investigation at the moment. The BBC is going to great lengths to prove something which is, let’s face it, bleedin’ obvious. But that’s what one has to do these days: otherwise, you will be hit with drivel such as “You’re suggesting Britain isn’t open for business”.

The whole thing puts me in mind of the Football Pools of yesteryear….and all the ‘perm’ ways in which one tried to predict soccer results by putting crosses against various teams. There was a little box on the back of one’s Pools Coupon which said ‘tick here for no publicity in case of big win’. Obviously, every last HSBC client involved in the scandal ticked the box. But the disturbing thing is the way in which HSBC actively helped those grubby clients to ensure their crime would go 100% undetected.

Once again I appeal to all those BBC-haters among The Slog’s readership, by asking them this simple question: “Do you think there is the remotest chance that a Newscorp station would’ve mounted such an investigation?”

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I offer a contrarian thought to close proceedings tonight.

The vast majority of historians would accept that, long ago in the swirling mists of unmeasured time, the Alpha male humans grabbed all the sex, big houses and acres of land that were on offer, and thereafter exploited all the more passive Homo sapiens…forcing them to work for a pittance as keepers of the gate, reapers of the crops, servers of the food, and cleaners of The Big House.

This makes a great deal of sense to me, except on one dimension summed up by the word ‘forcing’. We don’t know – and we probably never will – whether those who became serfs were in fact pressed into labour by the wicked rich…or whether one day, a bloke living in a hedgerow pitched up at the front door of the castle and asked if he might be given relief from fleas and starvation in return for, say, raising the drawbridge at the first sign of an approaching army.

Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans did of course have slaves: but even those in bondage may have acquiesced in the idea that the protection of a Roman owner was preferable to anal rape or beheading at the hands of sex-starved Ostrogoths and Mongol hordes.

For centuries, we have had to accept that wars are won and lost by the successful recruitment of mercenaries. The very meaning of that words suggests that, perhaps, the social order was not something dictated to the lower orders. You never know, perhaps they welcomed it.

Earlier at The Slog: did somebody blink?