Colonial War

Over the years, many people have written to me asking about early South Africa, and more specifically about the Boer War (or, as the Boers called it, the Vryheidsoorlog, or [Second] War of Freedom) from 1899-1902.

A few days ago, I found an old 1992 documentary on BoobTube, and it’s not bad — only just a tad over an hour — and it covers the period quite well, and impartially.  So that’s your weekend viewing assignment.  (There will be a test.)  If any questions of history remain, write to me and I’ll put the answers up in a follow-up post next weekend, when I’ll talk about my family’s relationship to the war.

There are three books I’ve always recommended on the topic:  Rags of Glory by Stuart Cloete, and the book it’s partially based on, a campaign journal called Kommando  written by Deneys Reitz, a wartime Bitter-Ender (you’ll get that explained in the video above) who went on to become the Deputy Prime Minister of the unified South Africa.  Both are absolutely brilliant — Cloete’s book also incorporates a view of the Boer War from the British perspective, and it’s both accurate and illuminating.

The third — an actual history book — is The Boer War  by Thomas Pakenham, generally regarded as the sine qua non  of historical sources for the conflict.  Written during the late 1980s, it’s devoid of any hint of the political correctness which infests later works on the topic.


Captivated, Not Trapped

What a lovely surprise.

I just finished watching the Scandi-cop (set in Iceland) show Trapped on BezosTV, and it’s beyond-words excellent.  The characters are quite real:  they’re like people you meet everyday — no superhero dead shots, no Clinty-style fistfights, people blundering through tragedy and triumph with a complete absence of witty one-liners — in short, just about the way real people behave.   And speaking of real, the unlikely lead character is the bearlike  Icelander Ólafur Darri Ólafsson with a truly magnificent performance.

As usual with Scandi-dramas, the story is complicated, with plenty of sub-plots which all somehow tie together in the end, but very believably.  It’s a tiny town in Iceland, after all, and it’s not surprising that everyone is somehow connected.

Don’t get me started on the setting and the scenery:  I’m still shivering.

This is not a show to be missed.  I’m going to take a break before I watch the second season so I can savor every memory of the first.  It’s that good.

Nazzo Sexy

Whenever journalists run out of material to write about, or want to give their mouths a rest from kissing Socialist politicians’ asses, they compile lists.  Here’s one featuring the “Sexiest Movies“, for example.

Now as any fule kno, “sexy” is as much in the eye of the beholder [sic]  as “taste” is when comparing, say, wines.  What causes paroxysms of delight in one may cause another to gag — such as a sweet dessert wine, a dry red wine, or seeing Rosie O’Donnell in leather.

My apologies… give me a moment, here:

Anyway, I think I’ve made my point.  Here are the movies adjudged “most sexy” by whatever people answered the survey:

I must admit I haven’t seen all of them, but let me state that homo / lesbo movie sex scenes do nothing for me — they turn me on about as much as watching animals mate on NatGeo TV shows  — which eliminate some from the list altogether.

I am likewise uninterested in movies whose aim is to seduce an underage virgin girl (or boy), which takes care of Cruel Intentions, American Beauty  and Notes On A Scandal, none of which are sexy other than for prurient interest.  (Also Lolita:  the movies and the novel.)

I think we need to define what constitutes a sexy movie:  one raunchy scene (e.g. Basic Instinct ), a whole bunch of nudity with some sex (Eyes Wide Shut ) or explicit sex scenes.

Let me clear the latter out of the way first:  9 Songs, Gaspar Noël’s Love  and Catherine Breillat’s Romance  and Anatomy of Hell  (French:   Anatomie de l’enfer ) are pretty much just bonkfests all the way through.  (The last three are also, whether by design or by mistake, among the most depressing movies ever made, and 9 Songs isn’t far behind.  You have been warned.)  Shows that have sex as the central theme are seldom sexy, which is why 50 Shades  and Secretary, for example, are terribly unsexy.  (I thought Secretary  was funny, which just shows my taste.)  If you’re going to watch a movie just for sex, rent Oui GirlsUp ‘N Coming or The Young Like It Hot  and have done with it.

As for the rest:  the Jack Nicholson version of The Postman Always Rings Twice  is sexier than any of the movies on the list, as is Dennis Quaid’s The Big Easy  (Ellen Barkin:  “I haven’t ever had any luck when it comes to sex.”  Dennis Quaid:  “Well, chère, your luck’s about to change.”)

I haven’t seen Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona  because I’m not a huge fan of his movies, but I’ve been told that it’s brilliant — unlike all his other stuff except Midnight In Paris, which is — so I’ve put it on The List.

So there you have it:  twelve of the thirteen “sexiest” movies fail the Kim Test for sexy.  Whether that says more about me than it does the respondents, I’ll leave up to you.


Some time back, I noted with glee (here and here) that the NY-LA Cannonball record was repeatedly smashed during lockdown.

The Cannonball Race (UK version) runs from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in Scotland (and vice-versa), and its record too has come under pressure recently.

The response of the British Filth (that’s cops, not Guardian readers) has been typically humorless:

Thomas Davies, 29, drove from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in Scotland in September 2017, in what he said was the fastest ever land time of nine-and-a-half hours.
He is said to have flown through 50 cameras and past 15 police constabularies, and hit only one red light – all without getting a single ticket despite an average speed of almost 90mph.
But Davies, of Corwen in North Wales, is now on trial charged with two counts of dangerous driving in a specially adapted Audi S5 with a 4.2 litre VA engine and for having an additional fuel tank in his boot.
He is also accused of perverting the course of justice for using false registration plates, displaying false number plates to avoid speed traps, and kitting out his Audi with speed-trap detectors discovered in a police raid.

So here we have a situation where Brit Ultra-Woke F1 champion driver Lewis Hamilton is in line for a knighthood for driving very fast, while Our Hero above is getting crushed by the “justice” system for doing the same thing, albeit under admittedly different conditions.

As for the charges:  every single one comes courtesy of legislation and regulation stemming from the efforts of the busybody Safety Nazis Of Britain (SNOBs) because They Know What’s Good For You and They’re Doing It For Your Own Good.

I know what they (and their US counterparts) are good for, and it involves stocks, whips, and nooses.

No doubt someone’s going to have a problem with this suggestion.

The takeaway from all this, of course, is that if you’re going to break some record that isn’t blessed by The Powers That Be, shut up about it.  Which really sucks, as record-breakers deserve all the acclaim they get — just not from the Fuzz.

Wild Child

What chance does a girl named Richenda Antoinette de Winterstein Gillespie have in the modern world?

Well, shorten her name to “Dana Gillespie”, hook her up with a whole bunch of rock stars and actors, and just let her natural talent as a singer do the rest.  (Also her killer boobs, but we’ll get to that later).  First, the music, which started off with a song that Donovan wrote for her:

Donna Donna

And how she looked back then:

Where The Blues Begins

Weren’t Born A Man

Andy Warhol (the cover of David Bowie’s song)

…and some old-time rock ‘n roll:

Snatch & Grab It

And now, the aforementioned boobs:

(album cover)




even “Cuddly Dudley” was smitten:

Killer quote:

“All three of us jumped into bed together, which may sound pretty outrageous but that’s how it was back then. There was nothing serious about it; it just felt like a good way to break the ice.”

I miss the good old days…


Salary inequity has been a contentious issue ever since Zarg the Chieftain gave Thirg a larger shield than Krell, even though the latter had killed more Dalegians in the last battle.   Here’s a more modern take on the thing:

The longstanding BBC sitcom [Mrs. Brown’s Boys] has reportedly lost Damien McKiernan and Gary Hollywood, who play couple Dino and Rory.
It’s reported they quit after discovering they earn less than other cast members.

I’ve said before that what people are paid really depends on how much they contribute to the success of the enterprise.  Where this starts skirting close to the reef is the question:  who decides what the relative contribution is worth?   Of course, the standard answer is “the boss” (whether a department head or the CEO, whichever is more relevant), but of course whenever you leave the decision to a single person, there will inevitably be some bias during the process — hence the formation of pay grades, compensation committees and the like.

Even that’s not perfect.  In the Army, for example, a pay grade applies to everyone in that classification — but being the Army (i.e. a government department), the output of the individuals is subordinate to the rank:  all sergeant majors of equal service length get the same pay, even though some sergeant majors (I’m looking at you, Sar-Major Wilkinson, you disgusting fat fuck) aren’t worth the dirt it would take to cover their useless corpses in a shallow grave.  (Not that I ever thought about that, of course).

I also quiver with rage when I hear stories of VPs complaining that a top salesman’s commission results in his being paid more than a VP.  (My simple response:  “Financially speaking, he’s an earner while you’re just overhead.”)

I was never in a position to do this, but if I were running a company, I think I’d post all salaries on the bulletin board so that every employee could see their relative value to the company — but nobody would be allowed to question the merits or non- thereof where managers and such were concerned, because having a clerk quibble about his manager earning twice his salary would inevitably show that the manager’s value to the company was in fact four times a clerk’s, so in fact the clerk was being over-paid.  (And if it wasn’t… draw your own conclusions.)

The onus of explanation and justification, therefore, would devolve to senior managers (or even the CEO), because it’s that important an issue, even if for no other reason than employee morale.

Certainly, this would eliminate 90% of the female whining about pay disparity, especially when disparities are explained in terms of seniority, hours worked and results:  with the corollary that if there is indeed unjustified disparity, the imbalance would be fixed toot sweet.  No reasonable person can argue against this.

Let’s be honest:  the general reason that salaries are kept secret is for management to hide funny business and/or favoritism.  Working in a Great Big Company’s IT department as a computer operator, I once discovered that a boss’s secretary was earning more, a lot more, than I was as a senior “oppie”.  I couldn’t do anything about it because strictly speaking, I wasn’t supposed to have access to the data (but when you’re printing salary checks, it’s kinda difficult to hide the numbers from the guy printing them — which, by the way, is why the salary print runs could only be performed by very senior employees, who could be counted on to be responsible and keep their mouths shut, and I was only allowed to do that because the manager in charge was in hospital having his gall bladder removed).  Nevertheless, after a little digging I discovered that the reason for the seccy’s whopping salary was that she’d been regularly  bonking her boss for the previous five years (at least, having discovered the affair, it was the only logical explanation).  There was nothing I could do about it, of course — I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell anyone — but it did rankle somewhat.  Having the salaries posted on the board would probably have taken care of Mrs. Mattressworthy’s over-payment.

What salary transparency also does, of course, is enable people to see what people at their rank in other companies are earning — another reason that salary data is concealed — although I think that in the long run, it too would be more beneficial from a total business perspective:  if you’re paying more than the industry average for a particular position, telling people that does a sterling job of keeping one’s own employees happy whilst attracting others to joining the company.  Healthy competition, and all that.

When it comes to showbiz, however, I have no clue.  I have spoken before about the value of top-level people such as DJ Chris Evans over in Britishland, but that’s a relatively easy call to make with regard to salaries:  the higher the ratings, the higher the pay (see above for the “earner” aphorism), and in fact since Evans left his job at BBC2, the show’s ratings have dropped massively under his replacement, proving the point.

But individual actors within a show?  No idea — it may well be a subjective decision from the producer (with all the problems that I explained above), or maybe it can be driven by audience response.  (I remember a story about Ron Howard’s salary while he was acting in Happy Days ;  apparently, his canny agent had put a clause in Ron’s contract that he, as the principal character, would always be paid one dollar more than any of the other actors in the show.  So when Henry Winkler’s Fonzie became very popular and his salary rocketed, so did Howard’s.)  But deciding whether Ross was worth more to the show than Phoebe in Friends ?  Fuggeddabahdit.

Which is what the brouhaha in Mrs. Brown’s Boys  seems to be about:  minor characters (always low on the totem pole) are generally open to abuses such as lower salaries, getting written out of the story, and so on.  Sad, but it’s the way of the world.