Dabbler Diary – Come As You Are

But they will not go to bed. Long after lights out the pitter-patters and thump-thumps of strange games can be heard in their bedroom. Conspiratorial murmurings. Earnest discussions about meerkats. Then the whine of the gate and the pit-pats along the landing to the top of the stairs where they sit side-by-side, Tweedles dum and dee. C is dramatic, expressive, long-limbed, turning to early gangle. E by contrast is a tiny plump Buddha, squatting impassively. Both have curly blonde moptops. ‘Muuuumneeeeee, Daaaaddeeeee!’ Wearily we appear at the bottom, ready to hear their case. C will voice it, E will echo in her squeak. Their reasons for not being asleep are spurious, improbable, fictive. “We’re scared.” “We’re hungry for pudding.” Or, best of the lot so far, “Our tummies are too hot.” (“Yes,” echoes E. “Our tummies too hot.”)

We look at each other. Don’t they realise that getting into bed and turning the light out is the very best bit of the day? Like so many other privileges of youth, ten-hour sleeps are wasted on the young.

***

Following the deaths of Tony Benn and Bob Crow, there are been various pieces pondering the reaction of the right-wing commentariat and Twitterati – i.e. why they’ve been so nice, in contrast to the Ding Dong the Witch is Dead with which the Left greeted the death of Thatcher (Crow himself, if I recall correctly, charmingly expressed the hope that Mrs T would ‘rot in hell’). My explanation is that there is an existential difference between the worldviews of conservatives and radicals, which is that for conservatives the whole shebang – politics (especially the trifling politics of Britain), work, life, death – is in the final analysis just a slightly ridiculous game, and you can shake hands with your opponent when it’s over and the earth will still continue to circle the sun. The Left takes things much more seriously. That’s not always a bad thing, of course.

***

That said….Bob Crow, eh? Left-wing my arse. At least he wasn’t shy about his bravura hypocrisy and greed; he was perfectly proud of it. The Marxist stuff is the biggest joke. Here is a man who quite openly exploited his control of the means of production (that is, the means of producing commutes to work in London) in order to make his gang and thereby himself a packet. Crow was a Loadsamoney Thatcherite Essex boy lout as much as any hedge-fund manager, and for the proletariat who needed to take public transport to their place of labour he gave not a toss. When the creatures of the Afterlife look from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, Bob Crow will be a slobbering saddleback with streams of champagne and jellied eel-juice running down his jowls. RIP.

***

And RIP Tony Benn: an indefatigable, articulate, admirable, unique man who happened to be completely wrong about everything. Benn gave so many public talks that everyone in the country must have seen him perform at some point, even if only by accident. Presumably there is a special room in Hell for naughty Tories in which they have to spend eternity listening to Benn’s tape recordings of his own speeches.

Twenty-odd years ago I went with my A-level politics class to Westminster to hear various windbags attempt to ‘engage with young people’ (including Neil Kinnock, who was quite spectacularly uninteresting). I had a curly brown moptop, a Penguin copy of the Communist Manifesto and a ludicrous black leather motorcycle jacket. I sanctimoniously give a standing ovation to Tony Benn. Honestly, I shudder to think sometimes that I could have been one of those alarmingly numerous people who never grow out of sixth-form leftism – who decide early in life that they have all the theories they need and no further reflection is required.

Two noteworthy things that have repeatedly appeared in Left-wing paeans to Tony Benn: that he had ‘unshakeable beliefs’; and the idea, as one Tweeter put it, that “principle always outshines policy”.

So: a refusal to change one’s mind no matter what the evidence; and a belief that principles and ideals are separable from, and more important than, practicalities and consequences. Can anybody think of any modes of human thought that have led to more suffering and murder than those two?

***

At the very least, having ‘unshakeable beliefs’ is boring. One pundit who isn’t remotely boring is Charles Moore. Moore is without peer in his ability to continually find unexpected insights and original angles on a multiplicity of topics, although he can be a little tiresome in his futile antipathy to gay equality. Here he is in The Spectator, after writing about the PIE/Harman scandal:

Beware, however, of the smug current assumption that, although the 1970s was a ‘sexually confused decade’, our own is not. What madness are we committing? One, I suggest, is the now prevailing notion that almost anyone should be free to adopt children, buy them, or produce them by surrogacy. Like that done by abuse, the full damage will emerge only later.

Clearly he’s talking about gay couples adopting. But what Moore misses is that the question we now ask is not “Should gay people be allowed to adopt?” but “Should a child be prevented from going to a responsible, loving home merely because the adopters are gay?” To which the consensus answer is now, No.

However, where Moore surely has a point is in the danger of people adopting not for the sake of orphaned children but because they like the idea of the parental ‘lifestyle’, or, even worse, to prove a political point. Two things you quickly learn as a parent: (1) a lifestyle is the thing you used to have before you had children; (2) children who don’t happen to be your immediate genetic offspring are far, far less interesting, loveable and worth sacrificing your own interests for than the ones who are. Good adopters, straight or gay, are remarkable people and surely very rare.

***

Nige’s post here includes a David Hockney sketch which I happened to see when I was in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool the other week. It was part of a Hockney retrospective which included a whole load of supergay doodles and a couple of major works, notably Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool. When an artist has a whole chunk of a gallery to himself, your expectations are raised and you naturally start thinking about whether they deserve the accolade. Is Hockney really one of the ‘great’ artists? I think I’d have to say ‘Yes’. His works have a mysterious quality that means they stand out from the merely accomplished. I’ve no idea what it is, but it’s there all right.

***

To Shrewsbury! You didn’t expect me to say that, did you? Nice place, Shrewsbury, very English even though it’s virtually in Wales. The town is on a sort of river island: lots of nice cafes, Tudor crap everywhere. I strolled around in toasty Spring sunshine feeling groovy. After this London diary some readers have said they feel sorry for me in my sad, lonely wanderings about the country. But really it’s all about the weather. It was bucketing down in London that week. I’ve said before that if I lived in a blazing hot country I would quite happily switch my brain off and live like a lizard: sleeping, eating simply, occasionally swimming, soaking up the sun’s natural soma. Another, fantasy, me does just that. Agh, it is the world’s pity we only get to live one life and not at least a couple of simultaneous alternatives. The only reason I do anything much is because England is wet and cold; if it was hot and sunny I wouldn’t bother with all this Dabbler rubbish. On the motorway south it was baking, and very loudly I played Nirvana’s Nevermind which, for the nihilistic ramblings of a drug-addicted suicide, is a remarkably joyous piece of work.

***

To Bristol Grammar School, to hear Frank Key address a Sixth Form Literary Society! You didn’t expect that either, did you? It was arranged by the inestimable Roland Clare, editor of By Aerostat to Hooting Yard, who introduced Frank with a comprehensive, lavishly illustrated and frequently hilarious lecture on nonsense. I have to say, though, that for all the amusement afforded by the surrealists, the dada-ists, John Lennon, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band and others, none of the nonsensarians are nearly so funny as Frank Key reading his own material. The only ones who come close are Ivor Cutler and the Bible.

Frank warmed up his unsuspecting young audience with Little Dagobert and the Binder Symphonies, at which there was much baffled tittering, then battered them mercilessly into submission with How to Think of Things Other Than Juggling, which contains the longest sentence he has ever written. It’s quite a thing, listening to a really, really long sentence being read aloud. One goes through a full range of emotions, from hilarity to despair and back again. It’s a journey. I could see some of the sixth formers seriously struggling at the midway point. “At least it’s not Neil Kinnock,” I wanted to say to them. But, as all things must, the sentence did at last pass, and Frank took pity on his audience and finished with a corker.

Afterwards I mingled with some of the pupils and assorted guests, including some of Bristol’s most thrusting young eccentrics and, quite unexpectedly, the well-known philosopher Julian Baggini. A youthful poet with a curly  black moptop analysed Frank’s long sentence with admirable seriousness, praising its hypnotic effect. When all had dispersed, Roland and Frank and I stood around and surveyed the buffet leftovers. How deeply moving it was to watch the penniless authors methodically consume the free sandwiches.

***

“Wake up, Daddy!”
“mmmrgh.”
“It’s morningtime, wake up!”
“mmmmgh.”
“Wake up, Daddy!”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“….”
“Why not Daddy?”

“My tummy’s too hot.”

Brought to you by Dabbler Editions – original e-books for Kindle. Buy Blogmanship: The Art of Winning Arguments on the Internet Without Really Knowing What You Are Talking About now.

47 thoughts on “Dabbler Diary – Come As You Are

  1. I for one lament the passing of an old ideologue who railed against a social order that he thought immoral and offered a radical alternative for younger generations. True, he might have sounded out of step with his times, but he never compromised on his principles – and how many can that be said of in this age?

    (Sorry, Mr Benn. Just a joke and no malice intended..)

  2. But what Moore misses is that the question we now ask is… “Should a child be prevented from going to a responsible, loving home merely because the adopters are gay?”

    That is indeed the question we now ask and we’ve persuaded ourselves we thought of it on our own rather than simply being cowed by a defiant, rhetorical challenge. The verb “prevented” cleverly conjures up an image of a lonely, needy tyke desperatey trying join those nice responsible folks with the open group marriage in the face of repressed, neo-Victorian officaldom . The reason it now makes sense to us is only partly tolerance. The main reason is we no longer believe there are objective circumstances under which children will generally thrive or that parental sexuality will have any effect on them. All that matters is a “loving home”, a nebulous, self-proclaimed concept. The cool thing about loving homes is you can have all manner of creative coupling in them.

      • That is actually a good example of how we employ postmodern gobbledegook to tell ourselves we are putting kids first when we are actually giving priority to adults. There have been many, many studies showing that, not to mention the testimonies of social workers. Yet in modern custody trials where one or both of the parents have re-partnered, modern judges who claim to care only for the children’s best interests will routinely describe Mum’s new relationship as stable and longterm with almost no evidence. The hard, empirically-proven fact that Dad’s new partner is not as likely to be a threat is ignored because the implication is that Mom’s “right” to love/sex is potentially more threatening to the kids than Dad’s. Plus the old evil stepmother syndrome is still very much with us. There are lots of great stepfathers our there, but positing complementariness as axiomatic is not putting children first.

    • I don’t agree with that analysis, Peter – I think the widespread acceptance that gay people can have strong partnerships and be good parents is justified by observation.

      Where I think Moore has a legitimate worry is that when you open up freedoms to new groups, there could be a lot of people doing it because they can without thinking too deeply about whether they should – and we’ll only see the consequence in a couple of decades. (I do realise, however, that concern is based on no evidence or in-depth knowledge of adoption procedures whatsoever).

    • I know two gay couples who have adopted children and every claim you make Peter is mistaken: (a) people in an ‘open group marriage’ have zero chance of adopting, (b) officialdom does believe there are ‘objective circumstances upon which children will thrive’, and, similarly, (c) it does not believe ‘a loving home’ is all that matters’.

      And who cares that ‘the reason it makes sense to us is only partly tolerance’ if the consequence is that children leave institutions for stable homes? It’s not just people on the left who believe ‘principle outshines policy’…

      • I know more than two, Gaw. You are making assumptions about what I was saying, just as I suspect Brit may have been making assumptions about what Moore was saying. But if you are going to rely on observational anecdotes to ground your views, you will find pretty much whatever you are looking for in the realm of family law.

        The concern is that we now rear children as if their parents’ sexuality or conjugal choices are of no consequence. That anyone who even muses about that is assumed to be opposed to gay marriage or gay adoption and is open to being so accused loudly is one reason so many swallow their misgivings.

        You may think it is just obvious that group marriages shouldn’t qualify for adoptions, but I think you would find the argument against it much harder to sustain than you may imagine.

        • Peter, I had aimed at rebutting what you’d actually said rather than assumptions about what you’d said. ‘Observational anecdotes’ of some description have informed my views to a degree but then so have a lot of other things. I don’t see how that necessarily invalidates them.

          As it happens, you haven’t pointed out how what I said was factually incorrect, other than linking to a paper by some academics that appears to be concerned with legalising polygamous marriage (and I’m sure an academic paper has been written at some point recommending just about everything imaginable). Is the pro-polygamy lobby a big one in Canada?

          Lastly, I do hope you haven’t felt the need to ‘swallow [your] misgivings’ in this thread – having said that, they’re not really evident in what you have written.

          • Gaw, this debate has been going on in one form or another for a long time and predates gay marriage and gay adoption. No fault divorce, common-law, single parenthood, surrogate parenthood, etc. have all come and gone as hot-button issues, and each time those who argued for objective norms, particularly concerning children, have been defeated by the “All you need is love” party. I am very aware that there are good gay parents and bad hetero ones, but that doesn’t answer the question whether, on balance, there aren’t conditions and circumstances that are healthier for the average child and that some of them relate to their parents’ sexuality and sexual behaviour, which most children don’t want to know about. Unlike you, I’m not prepared to shrug and say there are none of interest to the public, but we shouldn’t worry because officialdom will take care of the details.

            I find it confusing that Brit argues how unnatural adoption is and how exceptional good adoptive parents are, but then seems to confidently assert it all comes down to the subjective feelings the parents have for each other. I don’t have a formal one-size-fits-all model to offer, but I don’t buy that, even when a no-nonsense “responsible” is added to the soothing “loving”.

          • No I didn’t, I added the soothing ‘loving’ to the essential ‘responsible’, but what I really meant was ‘suitable’.

            In terms of a hierarchy of preference, I only take the generally popular view that a married straight couple is the ideal scenario for adopting, but that a committed gay couple is better than institutional care.

            The point I was trying to raise is that good straight adoptive parents are small in number, therefore, assuming similar proportions, good gay ones must be very small. Given a new freedom that didn’t previously exist, it occurs to me there’s a risk of unsuitable gay couples adopting for bad reasons. But we won’t know whether that’s the case for decades – with any luck the procedures in place will prove that fear groundless.

          • Also, by ‘loving’ I was primarily thinking of the attitude to the child, not necessarily each other, though that helps.

            You’re the one who brought up rumpy-pumpy.

          • I agree with Brit. Incidentally, I don’t know why you think I was shrugging and saying leave this all to officialdom.

          • You’re the one who brought up rumpy-pumpy.

            Sorry, that dirty mind of mine was at it again. I now see you were talking about agape, the higher, spiritual love that radiates in all directions in responsible, loving families. BTW, what “bad reasons” would lead gays to adopt that don’t apply to heteros? For the cause? Bit of a patronizing stretch, that, no?

            I disagree with you (and Moore) that we will ever reach a point when we “learn” whether this was a good idea or not. The ship has left. Can you name one social change in the realm of family law and mores where we ever said “The dinosaurs were right. Let’s reverse course.” Surely you are now old enough to realize that when society travels to hell in a handcart, everybody purrs “Look at the gorgeous view” when it arrives.

          • I imagine that last comment to be uttered by a Disney villain called something like The Grounch, before he finally learns the true meaning of Christmas in the last reel.

          • Can you name one social change in the realm of family law and mores where we ever said…

            I think the West could have adopted a much more open attitude towards paedophilia in the ’70s: there was the PIE, of course, and also the Greens in Germany and Brongserma in Holland. That was an extreme step that went thankfully untaken, and something of anomaly in post-1960s Europe, but it’s cause to think that change need not always be inevitable and eternal.

          • Can you name one social change in the realm of family law and mores where we ever said “The dinosaurs were right. Let’s reverse course.”

            I can think of a couple off the top of my head. First, interracial adoption, which practically ceased in the ’90s, a social policy that was reversed in the new century.

            Second, there’s gay marriage: I don’t think anyone would have predicted that the traditional institution of marriage, under such assault by the new Left from the 60s, should become so broadly accepted again. It’s now regarded as a civil right rather than an oppressive patriarchal institution.

            Instances such as these – and others might include declines in drug and alcohol use, acts of violence, littering, crime rates, levels of social welfare, redistributive taxes – leads me to believe we’re living through a period of notable social reaction. Conservatives should be delighted.

          • Education is another – we’ve lately fallen out of love with the progressive ideals of child-centred education and comprehensive schools.

            Then there’s Europe and the rise of UKIP.

            The initial premise of Moore’s article was that we’re aghast at 70s liberal attitudes to sex, ie it’s unthinkable that an organisation like PIE could exist now.

            And all the gags in the movie Austin Powers only work because the people of the 90s are more conservative than the swingers of the 60s.

  3. My God Brit, you do make Monday’s worthwhile. It’s almost enough to banish the Sunday evening blues. And, don’t worry, the sleepless days will pass. At which point you will look wistfully back at the lost innocence of your now full-grown children as you try and deal with the worries that only adults can create.

    As for current mores raised by Charles Moore, you won’t be surprised to read that I am inclined to follow Peter’s view.

  4. Once again the bar has been raised Brit, mighty oaks from little acorns grow. In a moment of madness, or lack of self control, possibly delusion, definitely collapse of self awareness or possibly not, it may have simply been drunken bravado allied with political naivety, I up and went and joined the South East London Labour party, the honeymoon lasted two weeks added to which was a further six weeks on probation, them, not me. Looking for a new Jerusalem I found the west bank, not for me baby, off I jolly well went, ditched the Mirror, bought the Telegraph. During that eye opening and possibly eye-watering period of the mid sixties I attended, well, was press-ganged into a ‘talk’ given by the man himself, Wedgie Benn, more chuckle chat than discussion. Granted the opportunity to ask a question, one of those fool that I am for asking jobbies he looked in my direction, ran his fingers through his hair and carried on pontificating. The man was glaringly obviously in cloud cuckoo land, away with a mixer, completely off his trolley, talk about talk, waffle, waffle waffle waffle. I promptly disengaged myself and vowed, never again, to get into a bed without first checking under the duvet.

    The man did irreparable damage to our country however, in recent years I listened to a radio talk given by Benn and Denis Healey during which they described their feelings after losing their wives, a very moving broadcast, I sort of forgave him, only sort of, mind you.

  5. “vowed, never again, to get into a bed without first checking under the duvet” – Brilliantly put, and sound advice, Malty.

  6. The most worrying thing about Tony Benn’s death was this facebook comment from Billy Bragg:

    “I…hope that I may emulate him by becoming more radical as I grow older”

    • What a weird aim. Not to want to become more knowledgeable or wise….Is being radical an end in itself?

  7. Parenting pooftah’s, something else that frau M and myself will have to chew over during the forthcoming long hot summer, just in case we find ourselves, at a party, being asked what our opinion will be, frau M may take the old opt-out option “nice coving, did you do it yourself?”

  8. From Kingsley Amis’s memoirs (expletives starred – hello Mum!):

    [Tony] Benn I have run into only once, early in his career, when by a misunderstanding he arrived on my doorstep expected but not heralded by any name. The door was one of those with a glass panel affording a preview of the caller. At the first sight of the present arrival the thought flashed into my mind, ‘Who is this English c***?’ The distinguishing adjective is important. There are Scottish c***s, there are even Welsh c***s, and God knows there are American c***s, but the one in question could have come from nowhere else but this green and pleasant land. Something about the set of the lips.

    Other guests arrived at the same time and my silent question went unanswered for the moment. I offered drinks. Someone asked for a gin and tonic. I turned to the c***. ‘Same for you?’ He reacted much as if I had said, ‘Glass of baby’s blood? It ‘s extra good today,’ and somehow in that moment I knew him, recognised him from television. He settled for bitter lemon, ‘with plenty of ice, ‘ he added firmly. (I once heard him say unequivocally, also on television, that his sole interest in life was and had always been politics, which to my mind should debar anybody from standing for Parliament. Even Ted Heath has his yacht and his choirs).

    Alan Watkins had a view as well.

    • I think one reason that conservatives had affection for Tony Benn was his essential Englishness: from that rich, gravelly voice to his everpresent pipe. I guarantee that Peter Mandelson or Tony Blair will not receive such praise when they put boot to bucket.

      • I thought I’d read a profile of him in one of Watkins’s books but I can’t find it. Must have been something I read in a newspaper.

  9. Re Bob Crow, ‘Free Collective Bargaining’, as it used to be known, is the adoption of an extreme form of English individualism by more than one person.

  10. Re Benn’s death and the reaction to it, I very much doubt that conservatives are just nicer about these things; if you’ve got a strong stomach, take a look at the comments on the Guido Fawkes site last Friday, none of which I will repeat here (Foot was given a similarly venomous send-off I seem to recall).

    Probably, the generally kind tone of the coverage has something to do with Benn having enjoyed very little power in his career (and none at all for the last 35 years); hardly anyone outside the Labour Party can say they were directly harmed by anything he did – and if so it must have been a long, long time ago. It was probably for similar reasons that Enoch Powell got such warm notices when he died: I suppose we all love a maverick, as long as they’re not allowed anywhere near real power. In some ways, too, the older Benn was a very comforting figure for right-wingers, as he allowed them to think of their ideological opposites as naïve, eccentric, honourable, unworldly – anything but a threat. The people who had most reason to loathe him, I imagine, were those on the soft left of the Labour Party (unless I missed it, I don’t think we’ve heard a word from Kinnock).

    Incidentally, I’ve just looked Benn up in the index of Dominic Sandbrook’s Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain 1974-79 and this is an edited version of what we find:

    Benn, Anthony Wedgewood, (Tony): airy-fairy stuff 36; and the CIA 153-4; consoles himself with a new quartz clock computer 649; fails to take part in orgies 154; has the most ghastly piles 786; inhales his own rhetoric 273; insularity 501-2; as a madman 275-6, 329-30; on the towering genius of Mao Tse-tung 488-9; paranoia 154; tries to spoil the Silver Jubilee 630

    • Guido Fawkes’ comment section is hardly representative of mainstream conservative opinion. Guido hates all politicians without discrimination. I realise that Tweeters/Bob Crow/people who organised Thatcher’s Dead parties aren’t strictly representative of the left either, but they’re MORE representative. It’s definitely true that the right tends to think the left misguided, while the left tends to think the right evil.

      I did consider that “Benn was harmless” angle and indeed wrote a paragraph to that effect, but I deleted it when I realised that Bob Crow was anything but harmless, so the theory didn’t hold up.

  11. Well I’ve now read the rest of that index and I can only say it’s a mini-masterpiece (can the book possibly be as good?). Highlights follow:

    Amis, Kingsley: accuses Kenneth Tynan of conniving at his execution 14

    Betjeman, John: terrible Silver Jubilee hymn 631

    Blackpool: dearth of bread and cheese in 476

    Brain Salad Surgery 539, 544

    Britain: Hughie Green’s call for national renewal of 179

    Callaghan, James: embarrassed by nudity 46; as a gnarled tree 463; shocked by impersonation of homosexual cook 462

    Carry on Emmannuelle 406-7

    The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady 90

    Creme Eggs: see Thatcher, Margaret

    Crosland, Anthony: tells Hattersley to fuck off 432

    Crowther, Leslie 179

    Davies, Windsor 342

    Doctor Who: more popular than Militant 306; people running interminably up and down corridors in 371

    Donoughue, Bernard: believes polytechnic lectures are a bunch of wankers 302

    Elizabeth II: washes the dishes 420

    The Flumps 22

    Free Wales Army 511

    Gabriel, Peter: wears an obscene monster suit 539

    George and Mildred 21, 148, 406

    Gladstone, W.E.: bugged portrait of 74

    Gleneagles Hotel, Torquay 96

    Goatley, Mrs (policeman’s wife) 67

    Golden Wonder crisps 742

    Hawkwind, Warrior on the Edge of Time LP 538-9

    Healey, Denis: does the choo-choo train 504; tells the left to go and fuck themselves 423

    Heath, Edward: leans nonchalantly on an Italian deep-freeze 425; stacks books on his chairs to stop Thatcher sitting down 257; unconvincing attempts to look cuddly 158

    Ivor the Engine 22

    John Curry Ice Spectacula 505

    Joseph, Sir Keith: declares support for lavatories 235; as a saloon-bar Malthus 233-4; warns of Soviet threat to nation’s campers 235-6

    Larkin, Philip: admires Thatcher’s pretty face 254; trenchant views on lower-class bastards 741

    lavatories: see Joseph, Sir Keith

    Liberty and Property Defence League 379

    Little Black Sambo 573

    MacLeod, Ally: predicts Scottish world Cup victory 529; puts up a new corner unit to hold the World Cup 530; returns from World Cup empty-handed 534

    Mason, Roy: as an amateur necktie designer 122

    Maudling, Reginald: drinks a jug of Dubonnet and gin 669; likens Thatcher to a grub 670; summons up enough energy to be quite rude 670

    Multi-coloured Swap Shop 22

    Newton-John, Olivia 23

    Palin, Michael: fails to eat a piece of cheese 96; fails to eat some pickled onions 96; fails to have his car mended 96; fails to write a novel 261-2; thinks it is cold 723; thinks it is hot 697

    Pan’s People 537

    Pershore, rural dean of 4

    piles: see Benn, Tony

    Rinka the Great Dane 447-8

    Robin’s Nest 148

    Showaddywaddy 540

    swearing 404

    Thatcher, Margaret: and chocolates 783; makes a mess of some Cadbury’s Creme Eggs 791

    Thorpe, Jeremy: contracts gonorrhoea from Greek prostitute 442-3; plans to have his ex-lover eaten by Florida alligators 444; wades ashore from sinking hovercraft 159

    vacuum cleaners 13

    Waugh, Auberon: claims that pensioners are being mercilessly raped 758; claims that Wilson is a KGB agent 72; declares war on dwarves, ugly women and New Statesmen journalists 792; stands for the Dog Lovers’ Party 455-6

    Weighell, Sid 181, 717, 718, 789

    Who Killed Enoch Powell? 131

    Williams, Marcia (Lady Falkender): fellow aides’ plans to murder 60; ‘lavender list’ 436-40; rows aboput lunchtime arrangements 57-8, 165, 172

    Wilson, Harold: burglaries 63, 67, 71, 74; compared with George Smiley 76-7; compares himself to a big fat spider 452; complains of ‘the squitters’ 38, 418; coup hysteria 141; and the KGB 68-73; on Morecambe and Wise 431; paranoia 66-7, 68, 73-4, 418, 452-3; polishes off five brandies 39; polishes off six brandies 39

    Wombles (band) xxii, 5

    ZX80 minicomputer 31-2

    Strange days indeed!

    • JL- this needs to be a whole Dabbler post in itself. Can you send me an even more highlights version?

      • This isn’t a Dabbler post – it’s an entire book. An Anthology Of Indexes (or Indices). Get to work, Jonathan!

    • Extraordinary – not least as I thought books weren’t subjected to a proper editing job nowadays.

  12. Brit talks of practicalities and consequences…………is that how food banks came about

  13. Pingback: Dabbler Diary – For the birds « The Dabbler

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