His life was indeed memorable. Some snippets from the obituary for Patrick Macnee in the Times:
After just a week of filming the new show in 1961, the producer took him aside and told him, “Pat, you’re basically dull and you’re fired.” Macnee went home and devised a new character, altogether more intriguing than the beige-Mackintoshed functionary he had been playing. The new Steed was a combination of his racehorse-trainer father (known as Dandy for his sartorial splendour), the Scarlet Pimpernel as played by Leslie Howard and his wartime naval commanding officer. “I wanted an outward exterior of extreme style, and underneath, steel,” he recalled. He was rehired on the spot.
It was notable that, while Blackman and her successor Diana Rigg took down assailants, Steed did little beyond gesture with his umbrella . . . “I tried to use my ingenuity and gave the really dangerous work to the women, which I think is the way it should be.”
Macnee would go on to base much of the Steed persona on his father, who disconcerted fellow guests at dinner parties whom he suspected of being a pacifist by pulling an unloaded gun on them, and was deported from India — where he later settled — for urinating from a balcony on to the heads of high-ranking Raj officials.
His mother, Dorothea, who had aristocratic connections, was 22 years younger than her husband and left him when Patrick was eight for her lesbian lover, Evelyn Spottswood, an heir to the Dewar’s whisky family. Men were banned from the house and Patrick’s mother and new partner did their best to expunge any whiff of masculinity by trying to coax him into wearing dresses. The horrified young boy mollified them by wearing only kilts until the age of 11. Uncle Evelyn, as he was instructed to call her, helped pay his fees for Eton. There he expended most of his energy on setting up as a pornography salesman and bookmaker, using tips from his father. “I had £200 in the kitty when they caught me.” He was expelled.
In 1942 he joined the navy, serving on motor torpedo boats based in Dover. The experience led to his refusal to carry a gun in The Avengers: “When they asked me why, I said that I’d just come out of a world war in which I’d seen most of my friends blown to bits.” When his boat was destroyed by a direct hit by the Germans, he was lucky enough to be back in port with bronchitis.
He wrote an agonisingly honest biography, Blind in One Ear, in 1988. He laid bare his feelings about the parting of his parents when he was still a child and recorded, too, Honor Blackman’s memorable reply when he once tried to seduce her after work. She said, “Come off it, Patrick, I’m sweating like hell, my feet are killing me, I smell like a polecat and the answer is no.”
I was sceptical when I read this story:
British man kicked out of Canada for helping girlfriend with DIY at her flat
A young British man is being kicked out of Canada for helping his girlfriend decorate her flat.
Tom Rolfe, 24, is accused of “doing a Canadian out of a job” because he did a bit of DIY.
He was locked up by immigration officials who found photographs of Tom and girlfriend Sam filling up cracks in the walls of her flat.
Tom was in Canada on a tourist visa and the pictures were used to prove he was working illegally.
Angry Tom said: “It is just ridiculous, I was just helping Sam to tidy up her flat before she sold it so we could get a place together.
“I was treated like a criminal and told I have eight days to get out of the country – it has wrecked our plans.”
Oh come on, I thought. This can’t be right. Don’t Canadians have DIY? Or was there something being suppressed by the Mirror journalist – that Rolfe was an illegal immigrant, or a Jihadi, or had a string of criminal convictions? Or was it simply “Blame Canada” day at the Mirror?
None of the above, it seems. Or at least the Edmonton Sun tells the same story:
A young British man in Edmonton on a tourist visa was kicked out of Canada by immigration officials for helping his girlfriend spruce up her apartment
As does the Toronto Sun:
Brit booted from Canada for helping girlfriend spruce up apartment
The presumably Canadian commenters seem to have no trouble believing it.
It is quite inspiring. Left-wing and right-wing lobbyists must have worked together to get this result. The Right demands tough enforcement of immigration rules. The Left demands that jobs be protected. The immigration officials find it makes for an easier life to expel people who want to start dog sanctuaries than to try to expel hardened criminals familiar with every legal trick. Everyone wins!
Tonight four terrified children are going to sleep among hostile strangers, torn away by force from their homes and their families because their parents committed the crime of living differently.
Tonight four children rescued from imprisonment and abusive parenting are able to take their first wondering look at the the wide world that had been denied to them.
Which is true? Search me. In my post of a month ago, “The morality of not teaching your child English”, I asked at what point the right of parents to raise their child according to their values must give way to the right of a child not to be cut off from the world. Language is not an issue in the real life story of the recent raid by the French police on the community variously known as the “Twelve Tribes” or “Tabitha’s Place”, but many of the other elements of my thought experiment, such as a self-isolating group not permitting their children to watch television or use the internet, are – allegedly – in place.
The Times reports:
Christian cult’s ‘racism, violence and child abuse’ leads to ten arrests
Police raided a fundamentalist Christian community that seeks to follow a 1st century lifestyle, arresting ten people and placing four children in care amid allegations of maltreatment.
The raid came following the launch of a criminal inquiry after a former member told prosecutors of the corporal punishment meted out by the Twelve Tribes community in southern France.
The group’s communities in France, Germany, the United States and elsewhere have long faced accusations of racism and of violence. They deny the claims and say they are misunderstood.
Jean-Christophe Muller, the state prosecutor in Pau in the Pyrenees, said 200 gendarmes accompanied by doctors had intervened at the group’s French base, a château in the hamlet of Sus, on Tuesday.
He said officers had been tipped off by the former member, but were stunned to discover a community of about 100 people cut off from the modern world.
“The children have never seen television or the internet and do not know what football is,” he said.
The Times story is quite similar to other reports in the French media. The sect has its own website, which has an English version. The existence of this website suggests that the Times may be wrong to claim that this sect prohibits the internet. Or the prohibition may not be absolute, or it may be applied to ordinary members but lifted for the elite or… any number of possibilities. One does not know which account to trust. No, make that “one does not know which account to distrust more”. Cruel and abusive cults do exist, but so do cruel and abusive governments.
The Twelve Tribes website gives their account of an earlier occasion when some children had been taken away from their parents by the German authorities in this link:
The parents of the children who were taken away permanently by the OLG Nurnberg are appealing the decision to the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe. There are a number of constitutional violations in the OLG rulings that must be heard by the honorable court. Here are some of them:
The court in its ruling admits that there is no evidence of abuse in the children. However, they reason that the mere beliefs of the parents are enough to justify taking away permanent custody.
In its reasoning the court takes the position that all spanking is abuse. The Jugendamt handbook says that all spanking is not abuse which supports what Parliament made clear in 2000 that the intent of the law was not to criminalize parents who spank
Ambitious police chiefs love operations like this. In 2008 David Friedman wrote a series of posts about the time when Texas police raided a ranch belonging to a group of fundamentalist Mormons and took large numbers of children into custody. Few of the dramatic initial claims of abuse were substantiated and the vast majority of the children were later returned to their parents, but only after many prevarications by the authorities that seemed motivated by a wish to deflect criticism of their heavy-handedness rather than out of any concern for the children. In “Taking Children from their Parents: The General Issue”, Friedman wrote,
Which raises the general question: Would it be better if governments had no power to remove children from their parents? It is easy to imagine, probably to point out, particular cases where such removal is justified. But in order to defend giving government the power to do something, you must argue not only that it can sometimes do good but that, on net, it can be expected to do more good than harm. Judging by what we have seen in Texas over the past two months, that is a hard argument to make.
This leads to a second question: Are there alternative way of protecting children from abusive parents? One obvious answer is that even if the state cannot take children away from their parents, it can still punish parents for the crime of killing or injuring their children. In my first book, I suggested a different approach: shifting power away from parents not to the state but to the children. Weaken or eliminate the legal rules that make it possible for parents to keep control over children, especially older children, who want to leave. Make it easier for adults who care about the risk of child abuse to offer refuge to runaways.
So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him.
Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time.
And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?
David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.
The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.
So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them.
Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them:
And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king?
And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.
This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the Lord liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the Lord’s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.
It’s a ‘Shoeish conspiracy': Twitter mocks British Muslim campaigner after he claims MOSSAD sneaked into his home and stole a single shoe
A British Muslim campaigner faced online ridicule after he claimed ‘Zionists’ had sneaked into his home and stolen a single shoe.
In a public Facebook post, Asghar Bukhari, a founding member of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK, said someone had tried to intimidate him by taking his footwear as he slept.
He wrote: the ‘game was simple – to make me feel vulnerable in my own home’, before adding ‘it is not the first time I have heard this happening’.
And it won’t be the last time, brother. Mossad high command are hopping mad that their agent only got the one shoe.
“Mary Berry’s family is flogging my mum’s old home for £800,000 – but they can’t sell our memories”
Outrageous! Relatives of a famous person are crassly selling the house where Rebecca Hardy’s grandparents once lived! In the 1950s. OK, Ms Hardy herself never lived in this house, or even entered it. But she has often looked at it. Although her grandparents did not formally own the house as such, as it came with her grandfather’s job as a minister of the local chapel, I think that qualifies as a sort of spiritual ownership, don’t you?
To be fair Rebecca Hardy almost certainly did not write that subhead herself. On the other hand the unknown subeditor has caught rather well the spirit of a woman awakening to political consciousness that hers are a people dispossessed:
When I was 18, I spent one summer working as a chambermaid in the nearby Gara Rock hotel, and I can remember how even back in the late 80s people complained about what was happening in Salcombe. I remember the hotel occupants too, in their boating shoes and Breton tops, and how I served them cream teas and eavesdropped on their conversations as they muttered about the costs of mooring their yachts. “Well, we’ve bloody well worked for it,” one particularly well-dressed lady said. As if no one else had.
For all her hands calloused from teenage waitressing and more recently being “a freelance journalist and author who writes mostly about food, health and wellbeing”, Ms Hardy’s tone reminds me irresistibly of an exiled Russian aristocrat circa 1980 wistfully unfolding the yellowed title deeds of the family estates confiscated by the Bolsheviks in 1917. Except that the Berry relatives did not actually storm the front doors as the elder Hardys fled down a secret tunnel. It was more that they bought the house from someone else who bought it from someone else who bought it from the chapel. Anyway, what with them being related to a person on TV, the bastards, and house prices having gone up something shocking there was definitely some oppression going on there somewhere.
“NYC Under Water from Climate Change By June 2015!”
As a bonus, the first talking head on the 2008 video clip is Peter Gleick, a liar.
On the other hand, you can be a liar without being wrong and wrong without being a liar. Prediction is tricky. I am still
three-quarters half willing to be convinced that significant, although not catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming is happening. But supporters of this hypothesis have to explain why we should believe them this time when they were so confidently wrong last time.
Much like Germany has been forced to grapple with its past — it can neither ignore it, nor celebrate it — Australia’s treatment of Julia Gillard should never be hidden, and certainly not for reasons such as “Everyone hates Julia Gillard”.
– Caroline Zielinksi, quoted by Tim Blair.
Scientists find mutation that protects against ‘mad cow’ disease after studying cannibal group
Scientists have found a genetic mutation that imparts complete protection against the human form of “mad cow” disease, which could lead to new ways of tackling similar incurable brain diseases.
The researchers discovered the mutation after studying the genes of the Fore people of Papua New Guinea who until recently had practised a form of cannibalism where a related disease was transmitted by eating the brain tissue of the dead.
At the height of the kuru epidemic in the mid-20th Century, the disease was killing about 2 per cent of the Fore population every year. Some villages had become so severely depopulated they risked dying out, with few if any women of child-bearing age left alive.
However, the scientists believe that people who had been born with the resistance mutation may have helped to re-populate the Fore villages, leading to a rise in the number of individuals who were resistant to kuru.
If I had more brains my first thought on reading this article in the Independent would have been, as it was for Professor John Collinge, director of the Prion Unit:
“This is a striking example of Darwinian evolution in humans – the epidemic of prion disease selecting a single genetic change that provided complete protection against an invariably fatal dementia.”
But if I had more brains I wouldn’t need a second thought.
The UK Labour government mentioned is that of Wales. One of the advantages of devolution is that it allows people to compare the results of different laws in the various constituent countries of the UK. The Welsh Government wants to promote and protect the health of Welsh people in the same way that it has promoted their education since devolution. Very badly.
Wales to introduce e-cigarette ban
Electronic cigarettes are to be banned in enclosed public spaces and workplaces as part of a raft of radical health plans announced by the Welsh government.
The law would be the first such restriction in the UK and would be hugely controversial among thousands of users, producers and campaigners who believe the use of e-cigarettes can help smokers of conventional cigarettes quit.
Other measures proposed by the Labour-controlled government is the creation of a compulsory national licensing system in relation to acupuncture, body-piercing, electrolysis and tattooing.
Weirdly, or perhaps not so weirdly, the archetypal fake charity ‘Action on Smoking and Health’, which gets less than 2% of its funding from public donations, is actually on the side of health:
Action on Smoking and Health a charity that works to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco, said it did not support the sort of ban proposed by the Welsh government.
It said there was emerging evidence that e-cigarettes helped people quit smoking and there was little evidence they encouraged “never smokers” to take it up. A spokesperson said: “We think they should be appropriately regulated. That does not include banning in public places.”
1) Which side will win?
2) Which side should win?
…an uneasy alliance of former enemies, having marshalled massive forces and waged a skilful campaign involving unprecedented levels of deception, was victorious in its battle to keep Britain in the Common Market.
IMDb. The Daily Mail. The Daily Mirror. The Guardian. The Hollywood Reporter. The Guardian again (“pure cinematic excrement”). United passions, indeed.
Added later: The Guardian yet again. Marina Hyde calls for a new Oscar for Best Instance of Professional Adequacy in Extremely Unsatisfactory Circumstances and reminds us of a “positively legendary” quote from Michael Caine regarding his presence in Jaws 4,
“I have never seen it,” Caine told an interviewer, “but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
I also liked this from Chris Tilly writing for entertainment website IGN: The 19 Most Ridiculous Moments in FIFA Movie United Passions.
Later still: I wish I had the strength to stop this. Here’s What I Learned Watching FIFA’s Incredible Propaganda Movie. Can’t – make – myself – stop – googling… Best Unintentional Comedy of 2015…
I am not really a football person, though I did once understood the offside rule for about ten minutes. Who would have guessed what enjoyment a film about FIFA could bring me and so many others? The only thing that could have made this masterpiece better would have been to have Sepp Blatter play himself. After all, Montgomery Burns managed it.