Trump meets the Pope

“I met with Pope Francis today. He’s a really great pope — great, great pope. You know he’s the leader of the Catholic Church — big church. I couldn’t believe it when he told me how many Catholics there are. Way more than I thought. They have churches all over the world; some are very, very close (so close) to my hotels and golf courses. He tells me he’s elected for life, probably copying that Xi guy in China.  Fantastic idea, though.”

He told me he’s infallible. I said that’s great, you’ll never have to worry about breaking a hip. And told me about a Mary Magdalene, beautiful girl, beautiful. Apparently a hooker. I asked him for her number. Didn’t catch his answer. I’m told he said it in Latin. I give the guy credit because he doesn’t look Latino.

“He took me into the Sistine Chapel. Beautiful ceiling. Not the usual white stucco stuff. I don’t think too many people even know about this place. The paintings are great, I’m telling you. Lots of colours.”

The Pope (great guy, by the way, knows more about the Bible than almost anybody — we got along great, I think he really likes me) told me the whole thing was painted by this young Italian. I think he’s from Los Angeles because his name is Mike L Angelo. At least that’s what Francis (we’re great friends) called him, I think. Trust me, we’re going to hear more about this guy. He’s really artistic, and everybody tells me I have the greatest eye for the best art. It’s natural, just like my incredible understanding of science. All the renowned scientists say they can’t believe it.”

I told Frank I’d like to buy some of Mike’s art. I asked if Mike’s done anything on velvet. He’ll check (great guy). I’ll hang his stuff at Mar-a-Lago or Trump Tower. This Mike guy needs more exposure. He’s too much with the churches.

He could paint my presidential portrait on the Capitol Dome. Or maybe a mural on my big, beautiful border wall; but just on our side. When we left, the pope gave me a bible. Huge book. (Huge.) I told him I have the full set. You get one for free every time you take a porn star to a hotel room.”

Unbelievable. I just saw something on TV. They claim Mike the painter died 450 years ago. Sad.”

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Book Review: Walter Mosley ~ Fearless Jones (2001)

The Black Lives Matter campaign changed my re-read of this book. Mosley writes about the period before mobile phones videos but in such a vivid way that his images last a long time. Videos however are easy to disseminate and are irrefutable.* He writes about black folk lore. Walter Mosley’s novels often depict police violence in the 1950s and 60s. Racist police behaving as an army of occupation meted out ‘justice’ as they saw fit. Mosley’s novels are novels of survival, aspiration and courage.

His principal character learned the reality of racism as a child when he was taken into a library as a child of thirteen. He didn’t realise that he was been allowed in so that the racist librarian could taunt him for being black.

This is the library,” the librarian said….

It’s beautiful,” I said finally. “I never seen nuthin’ like it.”

Of course you haven’t,” she said, “and do you know why?”……

It is because this is a white library. And no matter how much you know how to read, these books are not meant for you. These books were written by white people for white people…. You have seen as much of this building as you ever will.” p117

As a man he says this

Listen, I said.” You might not know this, but cops like to get target practice on Negro men when they see ‘em with white women. You get me?” p256

Los Angeles was brutal for black men and Mosley’s thriller welds together that reality with a novel which I devoured. It has the best aspects of Raymond Chandler in terms of plotting and characters but is superior. (Do I hear howls of rage?)


For the Rodney King video see

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Social Distancing: Indian Style

And they aren’t wearing masks!

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A really difficult question

A Kiwi* and an Aussie went fishing and after a couple of beers the Aussie said to the Kiwi, “If I sneaked into your house and made wild passionate love to your wife and she got pregnant would that make us related?”

The Kiwi pondered the question and then said, “I don’t know about being related, but it would make us even.”

* New Zealander

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Councillor Accountability in the 1990s

Between 1990 and 1998 I was Chair of Havering’s Housing Committee, which I enjoyed hugely. Because so many council tenants exercised their ‘right to buy’* this led to a worrying fall in the Council’s housing stock. This especially effected people coming onto the housing market who were priced out. Following a discussion with the Housing Director, Jim Draper he suggested we consider building a small estate within the much larger Harold Hill Estate. I was very taken with this idea and turned it into a policy decision.

A green field site called Wednesbury Gardens was identified, which was a sizeable plot. I did the preliminary work and the boroughs architects were commissioned. We put in for planning permission and when it went to the housing committee they passed the proposal. But once the public notices were issued, hostility to the whole plan emerged. The residents of the houses surrounding the field were up in arms. Quite a proportion of those objecting, were former tenants who’d brought their properties. I agreed to hold a public meeting on the field the following week where the households effected (they weren’t all owners) could hold me to account and see the proposal with detailed drawings. I knew, this wasn’t going to be an easy meeting. 

On the day, purely by chance, an old paperhanging table had been left on the field. I put my diary and the rolled up plans of the new build, on the table. The papers were held on the table with some stones I picked up from the grass. I was pleased to see my comrade Labour Councillor, Denis Cook from the housing committee turn up, as I’d expected to have to conduct the meeting by myself. As anticipated, a vociferous group, of about fifty mostly women and children with some men surrounded us.

The language was richly peppered with references to our illegitimate birth status but that didn’t bother either of us. I had to shout to be heard above the jeering, booing, hissing and expressions of contempt. The children mostly complained about losing their playing field. Some parents were vocal about no longer being able to use the field for their dogs. No one wanted more new-built houses on ‘their’ field.

However, when I pointed out,

at some stage all these properties were council housing and at some point whether you, or the person/s you got or brought the house from, they were all, grateful to be housed by the council!”

All we were proposing was to give other families that same opportunity. That placated a number and stopped the jeering to a large extent. A very few gave weak ‘Here-Here’. After a short Q&A session we finished. 

Finally, when rolling up the drawings I noticed my diary had gone missing. I asked in a very loud that “who ever had nicked my diary to return it as was of no use to anyone but me and if whoever cared to glance through the pages, they will see its of no use to them at al.” A boy of about six, (I suspect he took it) said, “Look behind you mister is that it laying on the grass?”  

Bless him and all Harold Hill residents.

* For right to buy see


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American children on a subsistence farm, 1919

When not in school the Borlaug children did chores, rising before dawn and working until after sunset. Boys hoed weeds, dug potatoes, milked cows, stacked hay, hauled wood and water, fed chicken, cattle, and horses. Girls tended the vegetable garden, worked the washboard, cleaned house, mended clothing, cooked meals.

The toil never ended but complaint was rare. The Borlaugs were subsistence farmers, and if they wanted to eat there was no alternative.

Mann, Charles C.. The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Groundbreaking Scientists and Their Conflicting Visions of the Future of Our Planet Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition. Location 1552

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Book Review: Philip Kerr ~ Hitler’s Peace (2005)(2020)*

Sometimes an author strikes lucky and invents a character which is utterly compelling and becomes the motif of their entire career. Lee Child’s Reacher, Ian Rankin’s Rebus are excellent examples. The reader looks forward to the next Reacher novel almost as though they have a relationship with him. So it was with Kerr’s Bernie Gunther. We enjoyed his career in Weimar Germany, the compromises with the Nazi’s, his relationship with Heydrich, his post-war career as an SS man on the run. Getting old but still being wily, tough and grotesquely wonderful.

Kerr’ history was empathetic. It used history to support brilliant writing so where does this leave Hitler’s Peace? Kerr uses his historical feel to good effect but unfortunately he’s trying to write counter-factual history: What If history. Sometimes it reads like a clever student who’s studied hard and was ‘jolly well going to use the whole lot’ regardless of whether there was any point or not.

Yes I was disappointed. Hitler’s Peace is a good book but my expectations were sky high.

* There are two dates as this edition has an afterword obituary for Kerr by Howard Jacobson

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In Times Past

The peoples of the land knew, their world
Each plant, the uses they might be put to
The elixir’s and the cautions inherent
In the most benign and kindly plants. 

For longer years than may be remembered
Avoided nightshade’s, or hemlock…
Foxglove concoctions may only be used,
By those with the old knowledge. 

For most every malaise,
A concoction or remedy was available
But, only to those with shaman know-how
That know-how often passed down in generations. 

The roots, stem leaves buds, or flowers
Each may be enlisted, with acquaintance
Binding a poultice, or bruising, while…
Joining with other remedy’s like honey. 

Which, individuals do we owe?
Were they witches, or those following a path
Trodden by ancestors who followed the Seasons
In complete, harmony with nature. 

Remember, March April and May
Each as the Earth turns
Awakens the silent call of Spring
New birth, be it plant or mankind. 

How we squander, such precious gifts
We cull without consideration, of consequence
Cut down, destroy and reek annihilation
Without concern, even for ourselves. 

It’s to late, for the old to lament
They threw away their inheritance
They burned and pillaged what was theirs
Their birth right, discarded. 

Is it too late, to trust the young
Are our mistakes ingrained, intrinsic
perhaps, perhaps not…
Will they ever see, a wild meadow? 

Bursting, almost blushing with insect attractions
Scents, subtle frenetic pheromones
In flower heads of every conceivable colour
How sad, to lose all, to Man’s selfish lust. 


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The Real Theresa May

I never wanted to be Prime Minister

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A Golfing Joke

Miguel and Wesley were playing golf, but were blocked by a two women. The women were great golfers, but playing very slowly. Finally Wesley decided he had to say something.

“I’ll walk ahead and ask them if we can play through,” Wesley said. He set off down the fairway, but when he got halfway, he stopped, turned round and came back. “Can’t do it. One’s my wife and the other’s my mistress!”

“OK,” Miguel said, “I’ll ask them.” He started up the fairway, only to stop halfway and turn back.

“What’s wrong?”

That’s one hell of a coincidence.”

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