If you’ve got 17 minutes to spare I urge you to watch thisvideo (currently being circulated on Twitter).
And if you haven’t got 17 minutes to spare, then make some spare. It will infuriate, enlighten, delight and terrify you all at the same time.
It’s an interview given by the great English cricketer Ian Botham to a bunch of Scottish schoolkids in 1986 for a BBC TV programme called Open To Question.
Here they are, teenage kids, with a rare opportunity to ask a genuine sporting legend any question they want.
But all they want to do is harangue him earnestly about his male chauvinist attitudes to domestic chores and his apparently unhealthy love of “blood” sports like shooting and deer-stalking and his support of Margaret Thatcher.
An Eighties-permed missy opens the batting by asking:
“You only do the clean jobs when bringing up a baby. Changing the nappy – why not?”
Then comes the next question:
“If it’s only you that doesn’t change nappies why do you classify this as women’s work?”
Then the next:
“Is your wife satisfied with your attitude to child-rearing or do you think she resents your apparent immersion in your own sport?”
“Do you not think it would be so much better if Mrs Thatcher would put some of the money she uses in defence into research and therefore help us out before she destroys the world?”
The assault never stops. It’s like Children of the Corn meets the Korean War. The questioning has the relentlessness and doctrinaire zeal of Red Army soldiers swarming across the Imjin River.
Lots of people, when they see this disgusting photo, will go: “Oh that’s not midges. That’s….”
And then they’ll shove in their tuppenny ha’penny worth as to what they think was the real culprit.
My legs. My bites. And it definitely was midges, I can tell you. I was there. It wasn’t in Scotland, surprisingly, but by the road at end of a particularly lovely sunny day last Wednesday in mid-Wales – my birthday, as it happened – when our car got a flat tyre and I had no option but to crouch there being eaten alive while I changed it.
You wouldn’t think creatures so small could wreak so much havoc. (Well, actually you could: fleas are about the same size and do the same damage). That’s probably why when I felt them feasting on me savagely I didn’t do what I would definitely done had it been they been, say, mosquitoes on a roadside in the Democratic Republic of Congo and changed into long trousers sharpish. I just carried on, thinking, “Ah well. It’s only midges.”
An individual midge is almost invisible to the human eye, at about a millimetre long. Only the bloodthirsty female causes us torment. The male feeds on plants and nectar, while his mate requires blood to form her eggs. Midges are alerted to human prey by the carbon dioxide on our breath. A swarm can inflict about 3000 bites per hour using a distinctive feeding technique: while mosquitos pierce the skin and suck up blood through a syringe-like mouthpiece, midges cut the skin, and then lick up the pool of blood that forms.
Oh, and apparently, midges cost the Scottish tourist industry £286 million a year in lost income from all those tourists who’ve been chomped and vow never to return.
How many bites can you count on my leg? If you email me at Jamesdel@dircon.co.uk and you’re the first with the right-ish answer then I’ll send you a free signed copy of one of my books. You’ll deserve it. You’d have to be pretty weird, bored or obsessive to count the insect bites on a revolting photograph of someone’s leg. So I shall be very interested to see if anyone does.
First the good news. Thanks to last night’s “No” vote in the Scottish referendum Britain has been spared the following: a run on the pound; the hasty exodus of Scotland’s finance industry; the premature death of UKIP; the gloating of Alex Salmond; a Red-Wedding-style outbreak of backstabbing and bloodletting among Tories and Labour alike; a collapse in the markets; at least two years of procedural sclerosis in the British and Scottish parliaments; the entirely unnecessary and utterly ill-considered rupture of a the greatest Union between nations the world has ever known; waking up this morning to find ourselves no longer in bed with cherished (if fractious) friends, allies, partners and comrades alongside whom we’ve fought, loved and prospered for over 300 years.
Now the bad: it’s all over anyway.
What Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party (SNP) insurgency achieved in Scotland last night is equivalent to what the Viet Cong and NVA achieved during the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Yes they may have lost the battle. But it was their stepping stone towards ultimately winning the war.
Just as the speed and aggression and co-ordination of the Tet Offensive caught the complacent US military and political establishment on the hop, so were David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and all the other “Better Together” campaigners completely wrong-footed by the Saltire insurgency of Alex Salmond and his woad-painted nationalists.
With hindsight, we can all tell ourselves that last night’s victory for the “No” vote was inevitable. With almost the entire British political establishment – including three prime ministers – behind it, not to mention an excedingly rare and unlikely union of the left and right media (and The Daily Mail shall lie down with The Guardian and the BBC…), as well as three hundred years of history, the continuation of the Union ought to have been a foregone conclusion.
But that is certainly not how it has felt in the last fortnight. Hence the unseemly scramble we witnessed in the last few days as Cameron and co headed north to grovel and abase themselves on broken glass promising Scotland anything and everything just so long as it remained in the Union.
And so it has come to pass: a small tactical victory has been gained at the expense of a massive strategic defeat.
Today the people of Scotland will vote on the most important issue of their lifetime: whether to remain part of a 307 year old Union which has brought them peace and prosperity, encouraged cultural and economic efflorescence and created the greatest empire the world has ever seen…
Or whether to go it alone as an independent nation and brave currency collapse, economic chaos, marginalisation on the international stage, grotesque political mismanagement by a party led by a shyster demagogue, bitter wrangling, messy negotiation of any number of complex agreements, and the grim prospect of picking up a massive welfare bill which, up and till now, has been heavily subsidised by the loathsome Sassenachs of South East England.
Perhaps you can guess from this summary where we at Breitbart London stand on the issue. The dissolution of the United Kingdom, we believe, is a very bad idea which even those who voted “yes” will come to regret bitterly.
As to which way the vote will go, opinion polls suggest that it is too close to call.
That this is so reflects horribly badly on the “No” campaign which has been run with such ineptitude and complacency that it wasn’t until a fortnight ago that it woke up to the possibility that it might lose an argument it had long lazily accepted it would win hands down.
But it hardly speaks better for the ugly campaign conducted by the “Yes” lobby. While it may be true that in psephelogical terms it has been tremendously successful, in moral terms it has been unconscionable. Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party have run a campaign on a prospectus so riddled with lies, exaggerations and half-truths that if this were business or finance rather than politics they would all likely be serving jail sentences.
Yes, the oleaginous, dubious Labour MP for Leicester East and the scruffy-bearded, hard-left, kitten-impersonating, anti-Israel apologist for Islamism will not be many readers’ first choices for “politicians with integrity I most love and respect.”
But the fact remains that this week both Vaz and Galloway played a blinder and reminded us all that, whatever their manifold faults, these men are stellar talents who you’d dearly like to have on side with you in a ruck because they fight hard, they fight dirty and they know how to win.
Keith Vaz distinguished himself as Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee into the Rotherham child rape scandal, grilling the disgraced functionaries who helped make it all possible – among them the South Yorkshire police commissioner Shaun Wright and the Rosa-Klebb-like head of Rotherham children’s services Joyce Thacker.
I noticed one or two commenters on Twitter prejudging his performance by making the somewhat racist assumption that, as an Asian, Vaz would strive to whitewash the whole affair. Which just goes to show the problem with this blanket slur cast on the broader ‘Asian’ community by the wanton use of the ‘A’ word in the context of Rotherham et al. Vaz is a Roman Catholic, of Goan heritage, not a Pakistani or Kashmiri Muslim.
He is also – as he demonstrated – a barrister of considerable style, wit and brilliance. In the course of the committee hearing, Vaz expressed his frustration that there seemed to be no way of ousting Wright or Thacker from the well-paid jobs they had done so badly. But at least he managed the next best thing: with feline sarcasm and inquisitorial ruthlessness, he gave all those of us fortunate enough to have caught these gripping proceedings on the BBC’s parliamentary live-feed the exquisite pleasure of watching some deeply unpleasant people writhing like scorpions on a pin and being exposed as palpable, unconscionable liars.
Find out the other reasons why I’m bigging up these slimeballs at Breitbart London