Saturday, 27 October 2012

Double O 7 1/2 out of 10

I have been won over by Daniel Craig after Skyfall. I remember a critic (Charles Spencer, I think) describing the shock of the new thuggish Bond rather brilliantly when reviewing his first outing in Casino Royale, something along the lines of:

"many of us prefer our Bonds to be able to save the world with a well-placed Bollinger cork in the workings of an atomic bomb, whilst smoking sobranie cigarettes and indulging in a lot of boisterous rogering; the new Bond behaves in the way you might expect of someone fighting in a pub car park in Dagenham at midnight".

I paraphrase, having failed to find the quote on google. But you get my drift.

Craig and the great Judi Dench have established a complex and extraordinary relationship which is the crux of this film. Indeed, the baddie is motivated completely by his own relationship with M, too. I'm not going to give anything away (indeed, when I went to a pre-release screening on Thursday evening, they confiscated our mobile phones!).

This is emphatically NOT 'the best bond film ever' (Mail on Sunday, and others). The plot is tissue thin (sorry, Rob, me old housemate at school, who has written this and the previous five or six films), and the set piece finale in the cardboard granite lodge incongruously plonked on a boggy moor near Glencoe didn't quite do it for me. Has ever so big a schloss had no outbuildings, no garden, not even a solitary tree? I think not. And I cringed when the (miscast Lancastrian Albert Finney) old gamekeeper and retainer hands Bond a twelve bore shotgun, saying 'of course we couldnae sell your faither's HUNTING RIFLE'.

The 007 and M show is brilliant, however, the camp baddie a witty throwback to the early films, and the girls, such as we see of them, luscious - but in truth, the Bond Girl for this movie is an actress called Judi Dench. This is good Bondage, well above average and Craig's best. Seven and a half out of ten. There is life in the old dog yet.

UPDATE: Idle has been corrected. It IS a rifle, an old Anderson Wheeler .500 Nitro Express. 'Hunting' with rifles is an Americanism, however.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Bill Sykes and Fagin

When I saw this picture of the Opposition front bench, obviously enjoying Dave's deep discomfort over Europe yesterday, I immediately thought of Bill Sykes and Fagin. Lest anyone lefty liberal is tempted to accuse me of anti-semitism, let me say that it was the thuggish countenance of Balls that brought the pair to mind. And Miliband would make a fine Fagin, given his attraction to other people's money and, well, he's no matinee idol, is he?

Do I need to patent this caricature of the two Eds? I see it catching on.

Monday, 15 October 2012

How Dost Thou Irritate Me? Let Me Count the Ways

My correspondent and friend, Phil O'Sopher, tells me that he read somewhere about a chap who has compiled a list of the ways in which David Cameron irks him. He has reached 49, which seems to me to be a fairly modest figure. Phil believes that a blog that is read by sound, literate, witty and amusing folk, (not unlike my own, I modestly assume him to mean) could very easily reach 50 and raise its bat, then go on to a ton and remove its hat to the applause. Who knows, it might even dig in and set about a double century.

I can give you ten for starters:

Lying about his 'cast-iron guarantee' on the Lisbon Treaty
Saying that he's always been 'passionate' about same-sex marriage
Ignoring his backbenchers in the corridors of Parliament
Wearing only white business shirts, only plain ties and (the horror) single-breasted suits with only two buttons on the front
Wearing black oxford shoes with jeans during holiday photo-opportunities
Always holding hands in public
Denying his children the best schooling he could afford them
Giving up fieldsports for his premiership
Supporting expense cheats who are within the Circle of Dave
Sacking those outside the Circle of Dave for minor indiscretions

This is a target-rich environment, surely. Get those reasons going on the Comments. Unlimited entries. Mars Bar to the funniest/truest/cringiest.

Friday, 12 October 2012

You Couldn't Make It Up

I can just about see the point of dishing out the Nobel Peace Prize to two opposing gangleaders who have been trying to make peace - Sadat and Begin spring to mind, or Trimble and Hume, Corleone and Barzini, Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner. The hope is that the kudos and the cash and the shiny new biographical wikipedia entry will help them become mates and further bury the hatchet.

Then some bright spark emerged from his Norwegian igloo and told us that Barack Obama, having been President for all of three weeks, was the unanimous choice of the arselickers and starfuckers Peace Committee. We searched his back story for evidence of keepin' peace in da Chicago 'hoods, or breaking up a fight in the junior common room at Harvard Law School, but in vain. No, he really was getting the gong for 'strengthening international diplomacy'. He did it so quickly and so diplomatically, we must all have missed it.

And now, surpassing themselves, with the straightest of faces and fully six months away from April Fools' Day, the Nobel Committee gives us this year's winner of the Peace Prize to: (drumroll......................)

The European Union! Eh????? Whaddidesay? You're sure? Okaaaaay......

Hurrah! Yippee! Break out the bunting! Uncork the Bolly! Never has a more deserving and previously overlooked receipient, etc etc.

The European Union. Yes, THAT European Union. The one that is causing great angst, depression, unemployment and economic hardship on the peoples of Europe, all in the name of EVER CLOSER UNION. The one that hasn't had its accounts signed off by the auditor for a dozen years and more, so corrupt is its use of taxpayers' funds. The one that is led by powerful and unelected individuals, unaccountable to the taxpayers of Europe. The one that has more failed domestic politicians per square inch than the Liberal bench of the House of Lords.

Are these the kind of knights we dub? Will SOMEONE lead me to the pub!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Dissing Boris

Sir Max Hastings writes in the Mail today:

 “If the Mayor of London is the answer, there is something desperately wrong with the question.

“If the day ever comes that Boris Johnson becomes tenant of Downing Street, I shall be among those packing my bags for a new life in Buenos Aires ... because it means that Britain has abandoned its last pretensions to be a serious country."

Now it's true that Hastings has known Boris for a long time, having employed him when he was sacked by the Times for dishonesty. He will have had plenty of first-hand evidence of Boris being cheeky or sly or sailing close to the wind. Doubtless it infuriated him. But that's Boris, isn't it? Look at how he has treated his long-suffering wife over the years; it is said he has very few close friends.

But it's worth noting, as well, that Hastings was a Labour supporter in the 90s and 00s, and to be credulous of Blair and Brown is not exactly a badge of honour, is it? I seem to remember him as being altogether too keen on the European Union as well. He is very much of the Tory Left. A Clarkeite, for want of a better term. He would have been a Heathite in the 70s. Wet as a scrubber in Thatcher terms. Boris, though socially quite liberal (how could he be otherwise with HIS track record?), is economically too far to the Right for Hastings.

But the main reason for dismissing his argument is obvious, isn't it? He threatens to leave Britain, no longer 'a serious country', to go to....... Argentina!

Hasta la vista, Max. The wine and beef will be splendid, the sport and open spaces wonderful. The politics, however, and the military, and the civil administration and the economy and the corruption and the lack of democracy..... not serious. Not serious at all. The country is a laughing stock.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Soak the Rich

What? Has Idle turned pinko? Has he chucked the towel in on his Friedmanite beliefs? Did Laffer plot the curve upon his graph in vain?

Worry not, idle reader. I don't mean US, I mean THEM. There's local, home-grown rich; and then there's international, Johnny Foreigner rich. And it's Johnny I'm after.

Torygraph blog today:

"Nearly six in 10 overseas millionaires named residential property in London as their favourite asset class, according to Bill Siegle, a senior partner at international estate agents Cluttons. He said: “Quite remarkably, 43pc of these highly mobile investors state that the global financial crisis has had no impact on their view of London as a top investment target location. In fact, almost a third – or 29pc – goes on to claim that London is better-placed because of the Eurozone difficulties.

The fundamentals of the London economy remain strong; the city attracts dynamic businesses and skilled professionals from around the globe. This gravity effect underpins the city’s appeal to wealthy individuals looking for investment opportunities in the next 12 months.”

Well, we know what effect this has had on London property prices, and it has been vertiginous. Most importantly, it prices Londoners out of their own market. It makes no earthly sense to allow the international market unfettered access to our real estate if it is detrimental to one's own citizens.

So I say: TAX THEM TIL THEIR EYES WATER. And then tax them some more. If they are happy to pay 20% stamp duty to buy in London (and by THEY, I mean those who are not tax resident in this country), plus a 5% annual surcharge on top of their council tax, then one could review it and push it up to 30% and 7.5%. Etc, etc. My theory is that the Exchequer will receive a HUGE increase in tax take, whilst reducing the number of new foreign buyers. And if, one day, not only the Idle Tax, but political governance and property rights in their own godforsaken countries improving to a level that stops them from 'investing' in our capital - well, that'll be a jolly good day for London and the World, won't it?

I am a markets man, but I believe in intervention when it cures an obvious anomaly. This seems to me to be such an opportunity, and I can't for the life of me see any downside.