Men Fight for Their ‘Mates’ — It Is the Secret of Why They So Love War

One of the nicest, gentlest fellows I’ve ever met is a man named Mike Dauncey. He’s so terribly polite that he can’t bring himself to swear even in extremis and if you had to guess what he did before he retired, you’d probably say ‘country parson’. In fact, though, Brigadier Mike Dauncey DSO is a bona fide war hero, known as the ‘sixth Arnhem VC’. Only five were in fact awarded at the battle. Mike was put up for the sixth, only to have the letters ‘VC’ crossed out on his citation and amended to ‘DSO’ by one BLM (that’ll be Bernard Law Montgomery) who felt that, heroism or no heroism, five VCs were quite enough for one debacle.

When you learn what Mike did as a young lieutenant, though, you’re left in little doubt he deserved better.

(to read more, click here)

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My moment of rock-star glory at a climate change sceptics’ conference in America | James Delingpole

May 27, 2010

Wow! Finally in my life I get to experience what it’s like to be a rock star and I’m loving every moment. OK, so the drugs are in pretty short supply. As too is the meaningless sex with nubile groupies. But what do I care, the crowd love me and I love them. God bless America! God bless the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change!

You’d think it would be quite dull, a conference of 700 climate sceptics (or ‘realists’, as we prefer to call ourselves) cooped up for two and half days of intense panel sessions (‘Quantifying the Effects of Ocean Acidification on Marine Organisms’; ‘Green Eggs and Scam: the Myth of Green Jobs’; ‘Analysis of the Russian Segment of the HADCRUT3 Database’) and lectures (beginning at 7.30 a.m). But I haven’t had so much fun in years.

(to read more, click here)

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Tales of the unexpected | James Delingpole

May 22, 2010

The closest I’ve come to seeing a ghost was a few months ago when we went to stay in a haunted house. We had a deeply uncomfortable night during which it was cold and hard to sleep, and in the small hours my wife was awoken by a mysterious pressure on her chest, almost as if she was suffocating, and which may have been the tortured spirit of whoever it was who had died horribly there or which might have been the heavy quilt. Dunno. Couldn’t say. I’m itching to have a 100 per cent, cast-iron ‘Yes I saw a ghost and it was definitely a ghost’ experience, but this wasn’t it. Otherwise, this intro would have been more exciting.

Why do I so want to see a ghost? Well a) obviously so that I can write about it and tell people about it at dinner and b) because the longer I live under the extended Blair/Brown/Cameron nightmare the more reluctant I am to accept that this life is all there is. There are lots of people out there like me and they’re the reason Liverpudlian Joe Power is able to earn a living. Power sees dead people and for a small consideration of £40 (for a private consultation) or a tenner a head for one of his hotel events will communicate their messages from beyond the grave to their loved ones.

(to read more, click here)

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It is left to me to point out this regrettable, overlooked fact: Dave blew it | James Delingpole

May 22, 2010

This is a column I never thought I’d have to write. I’d assumed that the conclusions to be drawn from the general election were so bleeding obvious that I could leave all the post-match analysis to the experts, while I distracted you with something more cheerful like, say, a piece about Fergal Keane’s brilliant new book on the battle of Kohima.

Apparently not, though. It seems that my job today is to point out an awkward fact that seems to have eluded about 98 per cent of political commentators in the mainstream media and 99.99 per cent of those Conservatives who invested their faith in Project Cameron: Dave blew it.

No, really. He did. Never mind that nonsense about the biggest swing since 1931, making the party electable again, tremendous achievement, best he could have hoped for and all the other desperate apologiae we’ve been hearing of late. Dave had an open goal — or at least one manned only by a cackhanded, decrepid, one-eyed nutcase, viscerally loathed not just by the opposition but by half his own team — and the best he could manage was to hit the post.

(to read more, click here)

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Men Only | James Delingpole

April 22, 2010

I think it’s about time someone explained to women how to watch war films. They just don’t get them, in much the same way men don’t get handbags or expensive girl-shoes. They think it’s all boring and that the characters all look the same, so how can you care about them? They think there’s far too much shooting and killing and violence and horror and bang bang bang and it’s like watching paint dry. They’d rather let you watch on your own, if you don’t mind, while they go upstairs and read in the bath.

(to read more, click here)

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Most gay men have realised that the Oppressed Victimhood party is totally over | James Delingpole

April 22, 2010

Some of my best friends are gay — but now I can go one better than that: one of them is HIV positive. ‘But that’s brilliant news!’ I told my friend when he spilled the beans the other day. ‘Now I can go round claiming victim cred by association. And if anyone makes an AIDS joke I can be, like, seriously offended and put on a solemn voice and say: “Actually, you know, if you had an HIV positive friend like I do…”.’ My friend agreed that being HIV positive was a very handy thing to be, in this respect. But on further consideration, we decided it would have carried more victim cred weight in the days before anti-retroviral drugs when a) it was a death sentence; and b) being gay won you many more oppressed-minority brownie points.

Personally I blame Ken Livingstone.

(to read more, click here)

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Trouble Upriver

I rarely review TV drama.

Three reasons why I hardly ever review TV drama: 1) the length, 2) the politics, 3) sheer bloody laziness. I suppose the last one is the main reason but the others aren’t just excuses. It really is too depressing when, three hours into one of those Sunday and Monday two-part dramas, you suddenly realise that you’ve already wasted one evening and you’re about to waste another, but that you can’t bail out now because you’re in too deep — and what if something good and exciting suddenly happens?

Almost all TV drama is too long and the reason for this is that the more screen hours you fill the bigger your commissioning budget. So any ambitious director who wants to make a halfway decent-looking drama has to pad it out till it’s as bloated as a foie gras goose. This, of course, builds up expectations which the dénouement cannot possibly hope to fulfil. Especially not when — as is invariably the case, given the political sympathies of 99.99 per cent of people in TV — the twist turns out to be that the baddie wasn’t after all the innocent black crack dealer or the misunderstood Islamist or the fundamentalist eco-loon but, yes, yet another of those secretly evil, white middle-class males who make our world such a terrifyingly dangerous place.

Anyway, I’ve only seen part one of Blood and Oil (BBC2, Monday) and, though all of the above may yet hold true with part two, I’m enjoying it immensely so far.

(to read more, click here)

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If I could go back in time to my Oxford days, I’d warn myself against idolising Cameron | James Delingpole

April 8, 2010

How odd to think that there was a time when I looked up to David Cameron. From the moment we were introduced at the beginning of my second year at Oxford, I remember being mesmerised by his confidence, his charisma, his looks, that amused plummy accent and — yes — perhaps, also, that slight vibe so many Etonians projected in those days that if you hadn’t been to ‘School’ you really weren’t quite the thing. It all made you want to get to know him better. Which I did. And I very much liked what I found.

If you’d told me then that David Cameron would one day be prime minister, I’m sure I would have been tickled pink. I didn’t know what his politics were but I had my vague suspicions: a belief in traditional English values spiced with a love of liberty and a healthy disrespect for arbitrary authority; almost certainly a distrust of big government and a hatred of political correctness and joyless, snarling, bitter socialism. Just the kind of brave captain you’d want at the helm if ever there was another national crisis.

But now look at him… (to read more, click here)

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I’ve Never met a Girl Who Hero-Worships Martin Amis As I Do — Except Maybe His Wife

I’ve never met a girl who hero-worships Martin Amis as I do — except maybe his wife

M. ‘I’ve spotted him!’

Me. ‘Where?’

M. ‘Down there. Having a coffee. On his own.’

Me. ‘Hey. Do you think he’d like it if we joined him?’

M. ‘I doubt it. He’s reading a book.’

D. ‘God, is he reading his own book? Unbelievable. He’s reading Yellow Dog.’

M. ‘No it’s not. I think it’s Hitch 22.’

Me. ‘Yeah well, whatever it is, look, he’s almost at the end. You know how it is when you’re nearly at the end of the book. You want to prolong the moment. So we’d be doing him a favour.’

M. ‘You can if you want to. I’m staying here.’

Me. ‘Coward. What about you, D?’

D. ‘Well we’ve come all this way. Seems a shame not to try…’

Back home in England, you’d never get away with it because: a) it would be considered a touch infra dig, and b) he’d never present such an obvious sitting target for such a prolonged period of time. But here in Dubai, the rules are different. That’s what we’re calculating. Indeed, I think it’s secretly one of the main reasons my friends D, M and I decided to come to this Emirates Festival of Literature. To hang with The Mart. The great Martin Amis.

Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds pathetic. At least it will if you’re a girl. I haven’t met a girl on the entire planet — apart from his wife Isabel, of whom more later — who gets excited by The Mart to nearly the same degree as boys do. But that’s because The Mart doesn’t really do girls’ books. He writes books about foul characters called Keith, and darts, sports cars called Fiascos, and the fantastic breasts of aristocratic blonde 20-year-olds in Italian castles, with glorious show-off, willy-waggling sentences and fantastic adjectives like ‘rangy’. I don’t know why, exactly, but when you’re a boy — at least a boy of a certain generation — this sort of thing really hits the spot. You feel you’re in the presence of greatness and you want a bit of it to rub off on you, ideally by getting some sort of quality time with the man.

But how? Interviews don’t count — they’re too one-way, too much of a performance. Bumpings-into-at-parties don’t count either — they’re too fleeting and unsatisfactory, as I’ve discovered many times before. The first must have been in my late twenties, when I said: ‘People say I look a bit like you. Do you think I look like you?’ and I can’t remember what his reply was but it must have been pretty boring, otherwise I suppose I would remember it.

(to read more, click here)

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I Hate Weddings; Funerals Are Almost Invariably Better in Every Way

If I’d written the film it would have been called Four Funerals and a Wedding, because personally I find funerals much more fun. Not all funerals, obviously. But the funeral of someone who’s not a close relative and who’s had a good innings can be a very splendid occasion — as I was reminded the other week when I went to Tisbury, Wiltshire, to bid farewell to my old friend John Clanwilliam.

John, you may remember, was the earl I killed last summer during a game of human Cluedo. At Christmas, he died for real and though I shall miss him dearly I don’t think anyone could be too unhappy at the manner of his leaving: a few months after two glorious 90th birthday parties (one in London, one in the country), cheery, well-loved and with all his faculties intact.

I became his friend because my friend Tania — one of his daughters — invariably used to sit me next to him at lunch or dinner when I came to stay. ‘You’re only good at talking to very young people or very old people,’ explained Tania — perfectly truly. ‘And you’re the only person I know who’s as right-wing as Daddy is.’

John and I got on like a house on fire, spending many joyous hours bemoaning the state of modern Britain and winding up Tania who — like so many poshos — has unfortunate Whiggish tendencies. Besides being an ardent Speccie reader, John had the added advantage of having been in the war. It delighted me beyond measure when he declared himself a fan of my Dick Coward books because, I suppose, that’s the audience I most care about: the people who are in a position to know whether or not you’ve got it right.

John’s own war was pretty bloody, though not in the way you might expect. He came from a distinguished naval family — his grandfather the fourth Earl had been Admiral of the Fleet, his father was an admiral — and was educated at Dartmouth Naval College. None of his family is quite sure what happened, though there are suspicions that his ship may have run aground. Anyway, poor John Meade (as he then was) left the navy under a cloud, and didn’t speak much to his family for the rest of the war, which he spent working in a Birmingham munitions factory followed by a short and unglorious stint in the army.

What I love about this particular story is what it says about the resilience of the human spirit. John could have let the episode completely destroy him. Instead, he rebuilt his life — first as an abalone diver in South Africa — raised four children, and gave every impression of being thoroughly happy and fulfilled.

Whenever John turned up you felt that little bit more cheerful, which I’m sure is why so many people turned up to give him a proper send-off. Everything about the funeral service was perfect, from the chosen hymns (‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’) to the sweet tenor rendition of ‘Danny Boy’, to the booming, old-school, fear-of-God dismissal by a former Bishop of Bath and Wells. You felt at once teary and uplifted, in a way I know you’re supposed to at weddings too, but in my experience almost never are.

God I hate weddings. The only one I’ve really enjoyed was my own, because I got to decide on the food and the music and all the speeches were about me. But the idea of forking out perhaps £100 for a present and probably double that on transport and accommodation in order to hang about and get half cut and eat cold bloody salmon (not even wild, probably, but farmed in its own filth and pumped full of antibiotics) on a table next to someone you don’t know while listening to not just an oafish best man, but also the father, and probably some tedious godfather or other giving boring speeches that go on for ever and ever about a couple who are probably going to be divorced in five years fills me with horror.

It’s the trappedness I loathe and fear most. (I have the same problem with dinner parties.) At a wedding you can’t just flit in, enjoy cursory conversations with the old mates you came to see, grab some nosh and then bugger off. You’ve got the church service: an hour, bare min. You’ve got the queuing to say hi to the bride and groom (why?) before you’re allowed your first drink. Then a whole afternoon in a marquee on a table with the sort of people you’d never normally spend even ten minutes with unless you were being paid very large sums of money.

At least with funerals, you don’t go with any high expectations of fun and frivolity — whereas at weddings you do, setting yourself up for almost inevitable disappointment. And there’s an unspoken assumption at weddings that, as a guest, you’re privileged to be there and should be grateful to have made it on to the invitation list, which puts pressure on you to be on your best behaviour. At a funeral, on the other hand, you’re thought to be putting yourself out slightly. The family are touched and appreciative that you’ve made the effort. Also there’s no best man, no sit-down food ordeal, you don’t have to bring a present, and if you do behave badly no one minds or even notices because everyone’s on one of those weird, faintly hysterical, ‘it’s what he would have wanted’ post-funeral highs.

Then there’s death. I don’t think nearly enough of us think nearly often enough about this and what it means. If we did, half the liberal pieties infecting our society would vanish in a trice. For example, there’d be no more squeamishness about ‘passenger profiling’ at airports because absolutely everyone would appreciate — duh — that the needs of millions of free citizens who prefer to take the kind of holiday flight where you don’t end up spread over the Atlantic in a million tiny pieces trump those of, say, a beardie in a dishdasha travelling on a one-way ticket from the Yemen with hand-baggage only who would prefer not to be singled out for a full cavity search.

(to read more, click here)

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One thought on “I hate weddings; funerals are almost invariably better in every way”

  1. Kate McMaster says:17th February 2010 at 6:07 pmWhat a great tribute to your friend, James! I have enjoyed reading your past posts, as well.
    I will be back.

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