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…at Free Market Towers, where little has changed, of course. There may be a new servant or two, but I haven’t seen them yet — no doubt, I’ll make their acquaintance at the next flogging.

Speaking of which, a friend sent me a genuine hippo-hide sjambok as a present, which of course I’m going to pass on to the Free Markets.

The servants are not going to enjoy this…

Men Only

I was sitting in a bar last night in Bath, trying out a pint or so of Bath’s local bitter (Gem; not too bad, but not 6X), when I became aware of loud young male voices, and lots of cursing, with what can only be called “violent language” — you know, “The next time I see him, I’m going to fuck him up”, that kind of thing.

I was only a little perturbed, because there were quite a few older women in the place, and they were visibly discomfited by both the volume and the language. Now ordinarily I would have got up and gone over to the lads and reminded them of their manners, and asked them to turn down both the volume and their fucking language because there were ladies in the house, but suddenly I realized that I was in the wrong, not them; and what was happening was the fault of modern society. Here’s why.

You see, young men are essentially wild animals, and when they’re in the company of other young men they become still more so — ’twas ever thus, and there will always be male posturing and bad behavior. Note the following little fracas between a group of adolescent male lions, rough-housing and doing essentially what the young men in the bar in Bath were doing.

Now according to the photographer, after a while they simmered down, and wandered away as though nothing had happened (which it hadn’t), and no doubt went off to kill a zebra or find a lioness to mate with — you know, guy stuff.

And this is why we need men-only bars.

Men-only bars provide an environment for young men to be themselves — i.e. to act like assholes — and basically blow off the adolescent testosterone steam building up behind their ears. It’s loud, and rude, and antisocial, but older men look at that, shrug and ignore it because they too were once young men and so they understand what’s happening: essentially, a harmless activity. Of course there may be the occasional fight, because that’s what young men do, and the only way to deal with it is for the older men to toss them out of the bar and let the young idiots finish it off where little or no damage will ensue.

But then came feminism, where men-only bars were regarded as Bastions Of Male Patriarchy or some such silliness, and bars were opened up to women, changing the dynamics of the social setting and denying to young men what was once an accepted outlet for adolescent behavior.

I’m not interested in arguments that “young men should learn to behave” — a typical  female approach when they encounter a situation they don’t like, which is to change the rules thereof and by doing so, altering someone else’s behavior but not their own. The plain fact of the matter is that this will never change, and taking away a place where young men can misbehave simply means they’re going to do it elsewhere — e.g. frat houses in college — where there is no elder-male supervision. And we’ve all seen how that works out.

In the larger sense of things, this is also an argument for an all-male armed services — at least, the part at the sharp end — where the violent nature of young men can be channeled into a worthwhile activity like killing Commies, Nazis and other assorted filth — and I hate to say it, but adding G.I. Janes to the mix is going to make that worthwhile activity less efficient.

I am likewise unmoved by the whines of feministicals who want to get involved in male behavior — “Piss off and leave us alone,” is my typical response — and I really think that we as a society have become dysfunctional because of the enforced mixing of the sexes in areas outside of relationships and mating.

I don’t know how to reverse this foolishness, or if it’s even possible. But I’d like to see men-only bars and pubs reappear as a starting-point.

Gotta Have Pitchurs

I’m by no means a fan of horror movies — in fact, I avoid them like the plague for two reasons: either they’re so cheesy and horrible that they anger me, or else they’re so good that I have to sleep with the lights on.

Over at Insty’s, Stephen Green has a link to 7 Indispensable Horror Movies or something — which I don’t care about in the slightest — but he does suggest that any list of good horror movies which does not include at least one performance by Ingrid Pitt is suspect. Of course, Stephen should know better than to talk about the exquisite Miss Pitt when she is largely unknown outside the horror genre. So as a public service, allow me to rectify his oversight:

 

…and something a little more spicy:

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Bucket List Entry #9: The Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo

I’m not sure that anyone does pageantry like the Brits. For one thing, some of their spectacles have been going on longer than many nations have been in existence, and for another, they take place in the setting of Britain, the country with a history that dates back well over two thousand years.

The Tattoo isn’t one of the former: it’s only been going on for just under seventy years — a veritable child compared to, say, the coronation of the new monarch.

But of course, the Tattoo takes place in front of the storied Edinburgh Castle, one of the oldest buildings in the Western world, and the theme this year was “Splash Of Tartan” which harkens back to the mid-17th century, when Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite Scots were defeated at Culloden, whereafter the wearing of the tartan was forbidden, bagpipe-playing was banned, the Scots were disarmed and the Gaelic language was suppressed.

So of course, the official welcome this year was given in Gaelic, a ceremonial toast of whisky was taken by the guest of honor — a British officer who served the drinks to the clan leaders:

…and then came the massed pipe bands, playing, amongst others, the mournful Skye Boat Song:

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing
Over the sea to Skye;
Carry the man who was born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.

I am not a man with Scottish roots, and in fact there are many things about the Scots of today that I deplore; but even I had a tear running down my cheek.

I talked about my previous Bucket List item (tea at the Ritz Hotel), which I enjoyed for so many reasons; but the Tattoo was unbelievable. Everyone who goes to Britain in summer — during the month of August — should make a point of going. The crowds are immense, the atmosphere electric; and when the ceremony finishes with the Lone Piper playing his melancholy melody atop the battlements of Edinburgh Castle, I promise you that you will never forget it.

Bucket List Entry #8: High Tea At The Ritz

So last Tuesday  I met up with on old friend whom I last saw in South Africa over forty years ago (!), and whose two sons (who both live and work in London) very kindly invited us to tea at the Ritz Hotel to celebrate the occasion.

I’ve had high tea before, often, when I’ve been in England, at places like The Pump Room in Bath and at Fortnum’s (to name but two of the snootier places), but never before at the Ritz. Even though I’d once stayed there a couple of days, that was a business trip and there was no time to enjoy the relaxing pleasure of sitting in the Tea Room and having elegant flunkies cater to one’s every need and whim, with no time pressure, no limit (the food and tea are, of course, bottomless) and to cap it all, a glass of their signature champagne.

“More tea, sir? A different tea this time? Of course, sir. And more scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, sir? Right away.”

I know, I know, it’s a bloated plutocrat way of living, but good grief, how I love it. The food is beyond description.

Best of all, though, is that the sheer majesty of the place puts everyone on their best behavior. All around us were people dressed well: jackets and ties for the men, elegant dresses and such for the ladies, no loud chatter or noise — just the murmur of voices, the clinking of silver flatware on china, and in the background, a piano player giving us a tour of the old standards.

And this wasn’t an English Rich White Person event, either; the Ritz has always catered to people from all nations, so it was like 57 varieties in there — but all dressed impeccably, all well-mannered, and all enjoying one of the great treats in life:  tea at the Ritz. I have no idea how much it costs (it’s probably online somewhere) and one does have to make a reservation, such is its demand. Whatever, it’s all worth it once you’re there.

Anyone who goes to London and doesn’t do this, at least once, has done themselves a profound disservice.

And my deepest gratitude to Hamish and Andrew for the invitation. I will never forget it.

Mourning Dress

In Britishland, there are groups of “travelers” (gypsies) a.k.a. “pikeys” who,as their name suggests, are of no fixed abode and who wander all over Europe in vans, RVs and mobile homes (caravans), and take over private land by simply squatting there and refusing to move. Being of no fixed abode, and apparently having no legal income, they survive essentially by being criminals, both petty and massive, and often violent.

I leave it to my Loyal Readers to ponder how they would be treated by both police and members of the public in various locales if they tried that squatting nonsense in the United States.

Anyway, a week or so ago two such groups of pikeys were apparently locked in a deadly feud with each other, and in one lovely incident a yoot belonging to one tribe was beaten to death with a shovel. Ordinarily, this would occasion little comment as it falls into the “Chicago drug dealers kill each other over turf” category, i.e. nobody cares.

However, pikeys, like the Italian crime families of yore, are known for their elaborate and costly funerals. This particular dead yoot brought forth an extraordinary one, even by pikey standards. You know you are respected in death when mourners dress in somber funeral attire such as this:

Among ordinary people, this creature could easily be classed as a Train Smash Woman, but I suspect that the term is probably generic for all female members of these tribes.

And lest I be accused of misrepresentation, here’s a wider view of the funeral procession:

Not the sort one would find at a Free Market Towers garden party on a Sunday afternoon, I suspect, and a game of “Spot The Virgin” would be pointless.

I’m frequently amused, on similar occasions, by the wails of the dead miscreants’ mothers: “He was taken too soon!” they scream before collapsing into some supporter’s arms.

“Not taken soon enough” would be my assertion, and I suspect that I’d most often be correct.


Afterthought: I have been told that the term “pikey” is disrespectful. Very well; henceforth, in the interests of accuracy I shall refer to these people as “shiftless criminal bastards”. Nah, that’s too long and too much hassle to type out. “Pikeys” it shall remain.