Friday, February 29, 2008

Donald where's your troosers?

Scottish kilt makers want copyright protection for the garment.

Just as Parmesan if it is made in certain regions of Italy and sparkling wine can only be called champagne if it is made in the area of the same name in France, the traditional kilt is at the centre of a campaign which, if won, would mean that only those made in Scotland could call themselves Scottish kilts.

The campaign is the idea of an Edinburgh-based kilt-maker, Howie Nicholsby, who, exasperated by the influx of cheap, foreign imports calling themselves Scottish kilts, got in touch with the Scottish Member of European Parliament Alyn Smith to see if they could persuade the European Commission to give the Scottish kilt protected designation of origin (PDO) status.

Now far be it for me to suggest the tartan skirts are best left to rugby fans and Japanese schoolgirls, the problem here is the fact that the kilt is a foreign import. The philibeg (ie the skirt which certain type of Scotsmen sport today) was the invention of an Englishman, Thomas Rawlinson. Proper Highland dress was banned after the Battle of Culloden and when these laws were repealed, the philibeg was adopted by romantically minded folks as a ready made piece of tartan tweeness.

All this ignores the fact that the ancient Greeks, among others, wore a type of short kilt. As indeed do some modern Greeks. Those Greeks also had their own type of bagpipe.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

EDW: M Le Maire de Niafunké

Londoners have to choose between Ken or Boris and, judging from the polls, are struggling to decide which is worse. When it came to choosing a mayor the people of Niafunké had a much better idea: Ali Farka Touré, the king of desert blues.

Here he is with Boubacar Traoré, don't let the haunting music or the grandeur of the setting distract you from noting the mayoral dignity of his bearing or the fine way he carries off those robes. Livingstone and Johnson please note and smarten up.

Much more Ali Farka Touré on YouTube to enjoy, too.


Cheap booze update

Spotted in a store on Cricklewood Lane: Scotsmac discounted to just £2.80. Let's hope the Daily Mail doesn't find out.

For those unfamiliar with this remarkable drink, it is a mixture of vintage British wine and Scots whisky. I only know of one person two people who have tried it and I gather it failed to meet their rather low expectations*.

Taste test? Come off it.

* Updated after Quink's foolish interruption in the comments outed himself as having sampled it.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Trollied Tuesday: in which I give aid and succour to the enemies of decent society

As promised: here's the cheap booze taste test. Please regard this a sort of stream of consciousness protest against idiotic puritanism. Should this degenerate into alcohol-fuelled madness, I will happily concede I'm wrong.

Before: It was one of the most shameful moments of my life. I shuffled forward, eyes lowered, praying no one would look at me in the act, knowing that they would curl their thin-pinched lips and look at me in the way you'd look at something they'd stepped in – and know all along that they'd be right to do so.

I had in my basket that antithesis of all that is good, decent and clean in our society. That terrible message to the children, the cheaper than cola or water, but oh so demonic drink. I was in the process of buying four cans of cheap supermarket lager - Sainsbury's Basics: 2.0% strength. 22p each. Desperate alcoholism for people who can't really handle their drink. The packaging alone is a silent scream for a life gone badly wrong.

A bit before: two cans of 22p lager are chilling in the fridge (maybe it'll grow on me). I trawl through a couple of month's worth of newspaper articles about how cheap drink is fuelling an "epidemic" of binge drinking. Booze Britain is going to die of liver failure after a nasty, brutish and short life of smashing things up and fighting. How could retailers be so irresponsible as to encourage this by selling alcohol at rock bottom prices? I need a drink to cheer me up.

Realise this is precisely the wrong attitude to alcohol. The sort of thing that causes people to buy more for less, rather than less for more.


I take it out of the fridge: I've already thought of several ways to describe how vile it is. This is cheating, I realise, and start thinking it might be a pretty refreshing drink when served cold. The sort of thing you'd drink on a summer's day when you didn't want to overdo it. Like Budweiser, only without the branding.

I pour it: the can reads "light, refreshing, thirst rate!". Oh dear. It smells like someone spilled beer on the glass. The taste is homeopathic; a suggestion of hops and alcohol. It doesn't taste so bad, I think, it doesn't taste. Then there's an after taste which is stronger than the taste itself and is faintly metallic and sour. I think of the people who would be reduced to buying this stuff, and want a drink to cheer me up. I swallow some more. It doesn't do the trick.

Drinking my way into an irredeemable spiral: one chugs a glass thinking it's water. Only the after taste reminds you it's beer. You could unwittingly swallow a fair quantity in this fashion, but you won't really get drunk. Drink enough and it'll fatten you up, though. I have some Earl Gray. It has more flavour.

Real alchies would drink Special Brew or something else which delivers a lot of alcohol quickly and cheaply. What self-respecting tramp would be seen swilling weak, supermarket lager?

One can down: I'm drinking slowly because, well, there's no reason to get it down you. They should encourage this stuff; it'll really cut people's drinking. Still, I might get to like it. I open another can, thinking I'd get more booze out of some mouthwash - it's something to hope to for later. I swallow some more of the cheapo lager; the nothing followed by metal sensation persists.

Food time and one thing I will say is that it isn't bad as a palate cleanser with spicy food, a case of everything cancelling each other out. That said, it took around three hours to drink two cans and it did not have any real intoxicating effect. Tiredness and boredom are more likely to finish me off. I start eyeing the mouthwash with longing.

Only a 12-year-old girl would even try and get drunk on this stuff; and I doubt that many 12-year-old girls would enjoy it. I assume it is sold at 22p a can because no one would really buy it unless it were astoundingly cheap. It's not good value for the buyer and I can't see why the supermarket feels obliged to sell it as a loss leader. Beyond that, I cannot see - matters of taste and aesthetics aside – why anyone would get worked up about the stuff.

It bears repeating again that people who want to get drunk on the cheap will do so with strong, nasty alcohol - your Buckfasts, Special Brews, Scotsmacs even. In recognition of this fact Tesco, having started pandering to idiotic hysteria, is now open to the idea of clearing its shelves of strong beer. I assume, however, that this won't include Belgian beers. After all, we need only fear drunken proles.

(It's worth noting, too, that I had intended to compare the Sainsbury's stuff with Tesco's cheapest. However, the Kilburn High Road branch didn't have any. It did have plenty of chilled and ready to drink cans of Tennents Super and very cheap bottles of White Lightning. By an amazing coincidence, that store is just across the borders of Westminster, the borough which is spearheading the crackdown on super strength lager. )

I still doubt that clearing the shelves of these products will make much difference to anything, except making a few tramps a bit more irritable and aggressive. However, I am now certain that any indignation that may exist about cheap, own-brand, low strength beers is as laughable as the marketing strategies behind the drinks themselves and the people who buy them.

If anyone does have a better suggestions, please add them to the comments. Prize: two cans of Sainsbury's Basics Lager.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Trollied Tuesday: responsibly and in moderation

A recently published book moves to the top of my 'to buy' list. Drinking for England: The Great English Drinkers and Their Times by Fergus Linnane. I've had a browse through it in bookshops and - so far as this great English drinker's memory recalls - it opens with an account of how various worthies such as King Edgar and St Dunstan tried a mixture of finger-wagging, regulation and guilt to get people to regulate their drinking.

And guess what? It didn't work at all. One of the measures tried before the Norman Conquest (something greatly aided, so tradition has it, by the English turning up to Senlac Hill with raging hangovers) was, well, measures. Edgar, besides trying to limit the number of ale houses, tried an early version of alcohol units by mandating that drinking horns be fitted with pegs in an attempt to encourage people to enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation by only drinking to the next peg before passing on the drinking horn. Pleasingly, for future generations who resent this sort of nannying, the measurements instead became an invaluable tool for drinking contests with thegns and the like competing to see how many pegs' worth they could down.

Moving back into the present day (and let me guess that Linnane draws similar parallels in his book) the English are as reliably thirsty as ever. And, in time-honoured fashion, the desire to force the people to change their ways has remained as constant.

The villain of much of previous week's press coverage has been our old friend – cheap drink. More precisely, the BMA has joined the chorus saying that drink must be made more expensive to stop people drinking "too much". As the Times puts it, the doctors' union "statutory controls on price and labelling, lower drink-drive limits, higher alcohol taxes and better police enforcement". Something tells me this won't really reduce alcohol specialists' workload, but no matter, it's a nice easy headline.

Never mind the fact that the price of drink, like pretty much everything else is rising due to higher commodities prices; forget the BMA's hypocrisy in trying to make it easier for its members to enjoy a drink and let's focus on the infuriating implication that everyone must be punished because some people drink more than they ought to.

Statistically, I'm sure that draconian controls that make it harder for people to do what they want to will deter them. But it's a rather crude and unpleasant instrument. Just because some people are doing something to excess, it doesn't mean everyone is. Put it this way, if Russell Brand were to go on an especially priapic rampage, statistics (should you be able to measure these things) would suggest that I too would be having more sex. However, if you were to impose draconian controls on sex (I imagine that many of modern-day puritans would love to be able to pull it off), I imagine there would be altogether less shagging going on. Doubt it would stop Brand, though (and I won't mention him again, I hope) but it might not make everyone happier. You may consider how this would affect you, if you like.

There's also the practical objection: you could raise prices, restrict the hours and terms of sale all you like, but you still won't stop drunks smashing things up, you won't stop fighting in the streets and you won't stop people being addicted to the stuff. It might put pubs out of business (they're already suffering thanks to the smoking ban) but I'd have thought shutting down pubs is the surest way of ensuring people don't drink in a convivial but restrained manner.

Rich people will still be free to get sloshed as they please, of course. but everyone else will have drink at home and go for the cheaper lagers and wines. If you took this to its logical conclusion, we'd end up like Finland. And we'd probably have a suicide rate to match.

Not that the cheap lagers on sale in the supermarkets will be quite so cheap. Tesco made a half-hearted attempt this week at pandering to the hysteria about drink by suggesting it might be time for the government to raise the price of its discounted beers. (Translation: prices are rising, we're stuck in a price war, please help us find a way out of selling a loss loser).

I've said before that I doubt the cheap lagers which, according to the Mail have been "associated (by whom? how?) with drunkenness, violence and disorder" are the real villains here. The dirt cheap ones are very low alcohol and I would have thought that the sight of a bunch of teenagers trying to buy them would set off alarm bells in even the dimmest check out operative that they ought to think about applying the laws which already exist.

However, suspicions are not enough. As part of my public service remit I've gone out and bought a four-pack of the cheapest supermarket own-brand lager I could find. Think of it as a protest against the hysteria and simplistic nonsense about an age-old phenomenon. I will report back shortly on whether it makes me smash up a phone box, buy more because it's so cheap or do anything else I might later regret.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Trollied Tuesday: Tom Waits

Am I allowed to choose someone who's given up drink for good for Trollied Tuesday? Since I set the rules, I would say very much so. especially when it's Tom Waits.

Drink is the life blood of his work besides, the spirit that moves through his tales of barflies, bawds, the broken and battered. The savour of alcohol is what gives his songs the compassion and soul that finds the beauty and the battered melodies in what others might dismiss as deadbeats and losers.

It's possible that one day there will be a song writer who will be able to create a comparable body of work out of the lives of hard-working, wealthy, successful people: their power lunches, their trips to the gym, their designer clothes and share portfolios.

But until such time, I'll stick with Tom Waits. Success seems rather banal and uniform in comparison with the barflies, drop outs and drifters who populate his songs. One should really have some fellow feeling with such types, after all, perhaps because life is essentially a series of disappointments and failures punctuated, at best, with the odd fleeting triumph.

To see the world through these songs, though, is to be forever watching the world with tired eyes through the bottom of a glass at 3am in a smokey bar.

It may be jaundiced, but it gives you quite a view. And really, it's nothing to be frightened of at all.

PS: Incidentally, you will notice the reference in the song to Bushmills. An especially fine choice for this sort of picaresque adventure. I have no doubt that you could act out this song in the town of Bushmills itself, should be so minded. The grandeur of the nearby coast and the Giants Causeway would undoubtedly add something the experience. As for this, we can only speculate what Tom Waits would make of it.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Foolish Interruptions

One of the stories in the news today, Alistair Darling says the City should stop rewarding failure.

"People get fed up if they see others getting great big bonuses and they can't actually see what they did. It can be extremely frustrating," Mr Darling says.

By coincidence, the same newspaper also carries the following story, presumably based on information from another member of the government (or possibly the former member of the government in question?).

Patricia Hewitt, the former Health Secretary, is on course to become Britain's first woman Commissioner in Brussels... and is understood to have the support of both Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman, the Deputy Prime Minister, for the £200,000 a year post in the EU executive.

Oh dear.

Were you to be leafing through a copy of the Telegraph, you would eventually read the following damning assessment of the former health secretary's capabilities. During a flaying of the Hewitt record of nannying, hectoring and incompetence which will surely unite people across the political spectrum, it includes the following gem.

And do you remember Hewitt's thoughtful response to the national outcry over the illegal detention of our Servicemen captured on the high seas by the Iranian military?... Nanny Hewitt made a memorable observation about the only British Servicewoman who was held in captivity. "It was deplorable that the woman hostage should be shown smoking. This sends completely the wrong message."

Indeed, I remember it well. The more so because it was a joke which has, because it is just the sort of thing she would say, has been widely reported as fact ever since. In fact it was a joke. More embarrassingly, it was a joke printed in the Sunday Telegraph (scroll to the bottom for the source). Still, if it indicates that even other Telegraph employees don't read Christopher Booker's column (and I do sympathise, there are only so many times you can read a swivel-eyed rant about the EU) one hopes that his bosses will employ Alistair Darling's 'next door neighbour test' before deciding whether or not he should be rewarded.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Say it with glowers

Valentine's Day romantics planning to say it with flowers are being urged to buy roses from Kenya to help the troubled country.

Hmm, we'll skate briefly over that phrase Valentine's Day romantics, shall we? What is so romantic of making a gesture of love on a day when if you don't make at least a token effort (perhaps grabbing some flowers on the way home) you'll be out on your ear? The obvious argument is that the whole thing is just a scam to exploit people's emotional vulnerabilities. (The popularity of anti-Valentine's events and gifts and Valentine's singles parties might support that idea. Especially if you consider the motivations of a fellow who might go to an event in which you know there will be a lot of lovelorn, susceptible women.)

But the problem with this is that it isn't nearly cynical enough. If the reference above to someone leaving their gesture of love to a last minute, panic purchase sparked any image in your mind, it was probably that of a man. More specifically, a fairly standard, hapless type of everyman. The thing is, a large proportion of men aren't terribly good at making the sort of gestures of love that women require.

In other words, the great value of Valentine's Day to the male of the species is that there is an acceptable minimum standard of behaviour for him: he can get flowers, chocolates and a card (or something like that) secure in the knowledge that this is way to say, at least, "Sorry I'm not very good at all this but, er, I do like you really" except knowing that a decent quality, well-chosen gift will say it more articulately. Similarly, for the women, at least she'll know that this is what he is trying to say if he manages to perform this fairly simple task. And if he can't manage to do what everyone can, well she'll know exactly where she stands.

Anway, if you want my advice on these matters (and why on earth wouldn't you?) You can do far better than Kenyan Roses as a romantic gift. Specifically, a Kenyan holiday. For one thing, they'll be really glad to see you - tourist numbers have fallen through the floor since the latest trouble there - so you'll be helping people in their hour of need. Secondly, the fact that the tourist industry has collapsed means a holiday there will be really cheap (probably best keep that bit quiet, however).

Finally, people are staying away because they're worried about further unrest. More specifically, they're worried that they might be caught up in it (intercommunal slaughter can really put a damper on your holiday too). However, should this happen to you, fear not. Studies have shown that a sharing moments of danger is one of the surest ways to create a bond between a couple. In other words, should your romantic getaway end with the pair of you being helicoptered out of a besieged compound as a machete-wielding mob surrounds the place, you can guarantee it will create a far stronger, more intense fellow feeling between you and your loved one than sitting through Ti-bloody-tanic tonight will.

PS: The other good advice is: keep a sense of proportion. If you find yourself asking Is it okay to date your dog on Valentine's Day? you probably are taking it all a bit too seriously.)

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A foolish internet connection?

Q: When is a good time for a debate on free speech?

A: When you're an internet cafe, called the Qaran (sic) Express. You read a blog about the latest Mo Toons damn foolery. Said blog has a big cartoon of Mohammed which some people find to be a cause of violent eye-popping rage.


EDW: Georges Brassens

It takes a certain something to carry off a moustache, especially when one is sweating profusely. But Georges Brassens manages it superbly.

Chapeau, monsieur.

(PS: light posting at the moment. I'm busy, moving house and don't have much internet time.)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Trollied Super Tuesday and Thomas Paine

Super Tuesday and whether or not you have any particular interest in the results, there is not better time for a Trollied Tuesday in honour of the finest ideals of the United States – that government is a necessary evil and that one should be allowed to make one's way in life without the overwhelming and arbitrary authority of religious or secular authority telling you how you must behave.

Some people prefer the hyperbolic description Tsuanmi Tuesday – certainly I'd urge those of you following the primaries to speed the process along by pouring a tidal wave of drink down your throats.

After all, the cause of America is in great measure the cause of all mankind. Specifically, for those of us on this side of the Atlantic let us remember one of the guiding lights of the American project Thomas Paine – yet another proof of alcohol's beneficial effects on the mind and the morals.

For his opponents, Paine's drinking was proof of his poor character and moral failings (echoes here of one writer who has recently produced a book about Paine, Christopher Hitchens, who has said that whenever his opponents bring up his drinking habits as a means of discrediting them, he regards it as akin to a confession they cannot defeat his arguments) and of a piece with his rejection of monarchy, empire and the established religion.

All of which things are – of course – proof of nobility of mind and soundness of character. To those virtues led us add a proper appreciation of drink. Another biographer, John Keane recently told he Camden New Journal (sorry, link not yet available): "He suffered terribly from gout and other ailments. There were no painkillers in those days except a good bottle of gin."

Ah gin. Is there anything it can't make better? Readers wishing to avoid gout, incidentally, would do well to stick to gin. It's soft drinks and fruit juice that will really do the damage.

Anyway, back to Paine. It is hard not to warm to any philosopher who calls one of his greatest work Common Sense. It scarcely needs my praise to add to the centuries' worth of appreciation with which this pamphlet has been garlanded. Instead, let me urge those of you who haven't read it to pour yourself a glass of something, get reading and while we wait to see whether the better angels of America's nature will reassert themselves in this electoral cycle, muse on the ways on which freedom and whisky gang thegither (as another British admirer of the revolt of the colonies put it). Just don't let Americaphila go so far as to drink Budweiser. It's the most terrible rubbish; truly a symptom of all that is wrong with America. (I mean this one, of course, the other one's fine).


Traditions Under Threat

Shrove Tuesday isn't what it used to be. You may have spotted several hundred media outlets lamenting the fact that people aren't so bothered with making pancakes these days. It seems that the fact no one is making a cheap but enjoyable snack is a sad mark of a country in irretrivable decline.

Since the story is based on a poll conducted by a flour manufacturer (and what's their methodology, hey? Does it use the proper psephological techniques? I rather doubt it) we might just dismiss it as a PR puff lazily lifted by news desks trying to fill their pages on the cheap. The trouble is that the pancake is just about last the last vestige of what was once a rich tradition of Shrove Tuesday festivities – mostly revolving around random acts of violence and cruelty to vulnerable people or animals.

Some villages do still enjoy the traditional football matches – the sort of violent, disorganised mêlée in which scoring a goal is regarded as unsporting and which even people who have an enduring hatred of all team sports would pay good money to see David Beckham pitched into.
The villagers of Ashbourne in Derbyshire, for instance, still enjoy nothing better than hours of wrestling and stamping each other into the mire but there is now an aura of quaintness about these events.

For in the past

Shrove Tuesday, or as we know it to-day, "Pancake Tuesday" seems in the olden times to have been a season of merriment, horseplay, and cruelty, as if the participants were determined to have their fling ere Lent set in with its sombre feelings and proscription of joy. Prostitutes were hounded out of their dwellings with a view to segregation during the Lenten term; "cock-throwing" was indulged in, a cock being tied to a stake and pelted by the onlookers; and all kinds of rough games were played, the women and the men joining in the "fun."

The Cornish used to enjoy a more utilitarian form of cruelty.

It was customary in Cornwall to take any one which had not laid eggs before Shrove-Tuesday, and lay it on a barn-floor to be thrashed to death. A man hit at her with a flail; and if he succeeded in killing her therewith, he got her for his pains. It was customary for a fellow to get a hen tied to his back, with some horse-bells hung beside it.

Of course, the true devotee of pointless acts of violence dressed in a veneer of tradition will always look to the oldest public schools of England to set the tone. The young gentlemen of Westminster School, for instance, have elevated the of tossing the pancake into an excuse for a good bit of character-building violence by fighting over a pancake which is hurled into a mass of boys. Wimpishly, the ritual has been sanitised somewhat "Due to the number of deaths, the ritual now only involves boys (and girls) selected from each house."

Other schools preferred to concentrate on the aforementioned cock throwing and were one of the last places to mark the start of day by ritually stoning a tethered fowl to death. As the Gentleman's Magazine noted, killing the bird with a carefully aimed broomstick is not as easy as it sounds and it could be dangerous to get too close to the bird. Lord Tebbit would, I'm sure, approve of the discipline and skill a revival of this custom would instill in youngsters.

But these Shrove Tuesday traditions are properly brought together by, inevitably, Eton College where a crow was wrapped in a pancake and nailed to the college door.

"The manuscript in the British Museum, 'Status Scholae Etonensis, A.D. 1560,' mentions a custom of that school on Shrove Tuesday, of the boys being allowed to play from eight o'clock for the whole day; and of the cook's coming in and fastening a pancake to a crow, which the young crows are calling upon, near it, at the school door. 'Die Martis Carnis-privii luditur ad horam octavam in totum diem: venit Coquus, affigit laganum Cornici, juxta illud pullis Corvorum invocantibus eum, ad ostium scholae.' The crows generally have hatched their young at this season."

If those lamenting the loss of ancient traditions are sincere in their concerns, I hope they will be agitating to revive these, and other related customs. After all, the start of Lent is far too solemn a matter to be given over solely to cheap and tasty snacks.

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Sins of Omission

The Guardian illustrates a piece promising to give us an insight into how doctors' minds work (why on earth would anyone want to do that? I like tasteless humour as much as the next person, but really…) with several of the amusing, but derisory acronyms which doctors once used to catagorise their patients. At least they did so until such time until it was widely assumed that we would be shocked and insulted rather than amused by the fact that medics did not necessarily take a sunny view of human nature.

They're not new, these acronyms, and you may have heard some of the better ones before: PAFO (Pissed and Fell Over), NFN (Normal for Norfolk - this has also been appropriated by Nottinghamshire medics), FLK (Funny Looking Kid). The genius of these is that you know exactly what they mean.

So I'm sorry to see that the article missed one of the finest of these acronyms: GROLIES, which stands for "Guardian Reader of Low Intelligence in an Ethnic Skirt". Can't think why they overlooked that.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Spring. Oh goodie.

Did you know that today is the first day of spring? Most you will be saying of course you didn't and what a damn stupid idea it is to say that spring starts with February when it's cold, windy, wet and snowing in lots of places. If you did, you are probably Irish. For today, February 1, is St Brigid's Day which, traditionally is the first day of spring.

Like all good saints, Brigid probably didn't exist. There are, of course, traditional stories of her life but she bears a suspicious similarity to a pagan goddess along with the various holy wells and attributes which were appropriated wholesale by the early church.

Still, St Brigid's Day is the sort of old festival I enjoy, principally because even the people who know of its existence its primarily of antiqurian interest. You certainly won't get the big hoo-hah and idiotic Paddy-whackery of St Patrick's day, and none of the commercialism that attends, well, pretty much every festival. (You can buy a special St Brigid's cross if you're in Ireland. Haven't even seen them in Kilburn, though).

Really, though, there is no sensible way you can argue that spring begins on February 1 . (I know of Irish people who will argue to the contrary, by taking the sort of pedantic, doctrinaire view of time that is better suited to a German human resources manager). Even though, as I write London is warm and sunny, much of Britain and Ireland is being lashed by storms and the weather could become very nasty, very quickly.

For all that I like the idea of starting spring now. It's the insane optimism which appeals, this idea that renewal, warmth and sunlight are here, or if they're not, then believing it so might somehow hurry it along. Brigid is, after all, a fire goddess. It's common place now to complain about Christmas things or Easter things going on sale months before the proper time. (Why I saw some hot cross buns on sale today. Before Shrove Tuesday even. Who cares? Not I).

Given that this longing for spring is probably one of the deepest longings of all (even basic instincts such as hunger, lust etc need the weather to turn eventually) it's little wonder that the old Gaelic tradition was a little premature.

In that spirit, then, here's something very fine indeed. Tom Waits, singing You Can Never Hold Back Spring.

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