Health and safety warning

Professors at prestigious American universities and members of other vulnerable groups may experience vomiting and fainting fits as a result of exposure to other people's opinions. If you think you may be affected, you should click on the Back button and seek medical advice before returning to this site.

Mr Grumpy can now be found posting at

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Watch with Mother

Is there any issue inherently less likely to get balanced media coverage than 'stay-at-home mums'? Here's a contribution on the subject from Carole Sarler in the Times, typical in its tone of touchiness verging on belligerence:-

'Only now, this now of domestic labour-saving devices and Tesco home deliveries and SUVs for school-runs, only now might the woman who eschews the labour market call herself — in the absence of anything else she has to do — a full-time mother. And bully for her, if it is what she chooses, if she has found someone else to pay for it, if she is immune to accusations of indulgence and idleness or if she believes, as many sincerely do, that her permanent presence is in the better interests of her children.

'But if she then justifies her choice, in the process provoking unease in parents who have chosen otherwise, by suggesting that it is she who adheres to a proven, time-honoured pattern for child-rearing, then it is she — not they — who is wrong.'

We're not left in much doubt that for Ms Sarler this is personal. As for the substance, the 'we used to live in a cardboard box' stuff earlier in the article is surely overdone. In the nineteenth century middle-class households had servants. When servants became hard to come by the domestic appliance industry took off. My grandmothers' pre-war generation may well have fallen into a hiatus where they got the worst of both worlds, but it was not of long duration. Reading Ms Sarler you'd think Hoovers and washing machines were invented the day before yesterday.

Be that as it may: if she objects to full-time motherhood being presented as a proven, time-honoured pattern, that's fine by me. Call it a bold radical innovation instead. The thing is, that's actually more or less totally irrelevant to the question whether it is good for kids. And that seems to me to be a question worth asking, however uncomfortable it makes Ms Sarler. Because if it does turn out that they are best served by an option which most parents cannot realistically take, it might be a nice idea to frame policies that give more parents a real choice.

I'm not familiar with the research, but I feel I'd like a guide who's just a little less partisan than Ms Sarler. When she says that disruptive behaviour in nursery-raised kids 'is only marginally increased' I'd like to know what she counts as marginal.

By way of compensation she tells us 'it has also been shown that the nursery alumni go on to do better both at school and later in life' (this is evidently a conclusive and non-marginal finding). So raising disaffected and obnoxious toddlers is not only OK, it's positively the recipe for ensuring they get ahead. What a comforting thought.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Apologia pro braccis suis

'I have a number of golden rules, such as never trust a man with a beard. Never give the time of day to a man in three-quarter length shorts is right at the top of the list.'

- says Stephen Pollard

Grumpy is not willing to take this lying down...

'Not those trousers, Pollard.'

One of our periodic domestic crises was looming over the horizon. I drew a deep breath and prepared to do battle.

'I beg your pardon, sir?'

'Not those trousers. I want the three-quarter length shorts.'

The garment under advisement was one I had acquired during my stay in Rome. One of those off-whitish numbers that come to an end somewhere midway between knee and ankle, with sundry ingenious pockets around the knee area. Not the kind of thing I go in for as a rule, but quite tolerably natty, and absolutely what the doctor ordered on a day like this, with temparatures giving every promise of creeping up to eighty in the shade.

Nonetheless, I had never been able to hide from myself the fact that that they were not going to go down well with Pollard. I had left him at home, he being keen not to miss Ascot, so he had had the legwear sprung on him when I returned. While unpacking my effects he winced visibly on unearthing said shorts. The trouble with Pollard, as I have said more than once before, is that he is hidebound and reactionary in questions of gents' outfitting. So I was determined to show him a touch of that old Grumpy spirit that won through at Agincourt.

'Pardon me, sir, not the three-quarter length shorts.'

'Why ever not?'

'They are quite unsuitable, sir.'

'Pollard, this time you go too far. I defer to your judgment implicitly over shirts or spats, or even ties. But when it comes to dictating how I may drape my lower limbs, I draw the line. Put out those shorts, Pollard.'

'Very good, sir.'

'And I can't see what you've got against them, anyway. Everyone who's anyone is wearing them on the Corso.'

'The Mediterranean temperament allows itself a latitude which does not become the English gentleman, sir.'

'Perfect rot. And I may say that I've had nothing but admiration for them from the gentler s.'

'I regret to say that ladies' judgment is frequently defective in these matters, sir. They are too readily swayed by affection for the wearer.'

'Stuff and nonsense, Pollard. I am convinced that, given time, you will grow to love them.'

'I fear not, sir.'

'Be that as it may, I wear those shorts, Pollard.'

'Very good, sir.'

'Very good, Pollard.'

Dashed painful, and all that, but it had to be done. I mean, is one to be a mere peon or serf of one's manservant? The thing's too bally absurd. Absolutely!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Department of the Bleeding Obvious

Even more sensiblism from the Observer. You might think it too obvious to need saying that ordinary Iraqis are not in mourning for a man who dedicated himself to butchering them. But of course there are those for whom it is anything but obvious. So due credit to Jason Burke for saying so (via), and pointing out:

'Unless we lapse into ugly prejudices about Muslims being inherently fanatic, this should not surprise us.'

Am I talking to myself?

Mr Grumpy had a record week after getting a plug from Laban Tall, but over the weekend the hit rate plummeted.

Is it possible that there is a rival attraction which nobody has told me about? If anybody's reading and has any information, do let me know what I'm missing.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Abortion, Amnesty International and a confession

The other links in this post are optional, but not this one. [I've mislaid my source, but I'm fairly sure it was Laban Tall]. A sample of the things that become possible once we grow out of the primitive delusion that there is a God and men and women are created in his image: eugenics, once the province of scary men in jackboots, is now available on the NHS.

Amnesty International think there's a universal human right at stake here. Hint: not the unborn child's. As Shuggy says:-

'The only conclusion one can draw is that Amnesty International's official position now is that the unborn child is not human.'

Shuggy's so right about Amnesty, and it's a real shame. The beauty of the organization used to be that it did exactly what it said on the tin. If you got locked up, or worse, for saying the wrong thing about your government, Amnesty would speak up for you, whether you were a communist in Pinochet's Chile or a born-again Christian in the Gulag. But somewhere along the way mission creep set in - doubtless partly through straightforward corporate megalomania, but mainly, I think, because they got hijacked by the people who think there's no such thing as politically impartial and that anything they consider desirable must be a basic human right.

They're the same crowd who run the aid charities. There's no point in giving to Oxfam, Christian Aid or Cafod these days if you just want to help poor people. You need to believe they are in possession of the magic formula that will Make Poverty History, and not be worried that the formula begins by systematically ignoring the countries which are actually succeeding in making poverty history.

Frau Grumpy (patronizing sexist reference just in case Catherine Bennett happens to read this) agrees with me about Amnesty, so there'll be no Amnesty Christmas cards from the Grumpy household this year, I'm afraid.

As for abortion: it begins to look my Rubicon crossing. This is where it all gets deadly serious. I'm shocked that abortion is being used to weed out club feet and cleft palates (jaw defects may not yet have been taken as grounds for a termination, but we must assume that there is nothing in principle to prevent that from happening: the thought fills me with particular horror since Frau Grumpy, like Joanna Jepson, has one). But there's something else: I'm shocked that it has taken a chance click on a link from a blog to tell me that this is going on. Of course I could blame the media I relied on before I started blogging, which have no interest in enlightening me. If I'm honest with myself, though, I could have taken steps to inform myself, and I didn't.

I was always uncomfortable with the way the 'woman's right to choose' slogan is chanted at full volume to drown out discussion of the ethical assumptions it rests on. But I've been all too ready to suppress my doubts and go along with the left/liberal herd, accepting that if women are granted the power of life and death over their babies of course they will all exercise it responsibly - and even if they don't it's no business of mine.

And yet human lives are being discarded - lives which, for many a bien-pensant liberal, are apparently of less account than a hunted fox or a laboratory rat. I am quite certain there are people who know me who, if they read this post, would take it as conclusive proof that I have become a reactionary, misogynistic turncoat. But there's a bit too much at stake to be influenced by the fear of losing friends.

Reality check

'Two years ago, Spanish police tried to storm an apartment in which they believed terrorist suspects were hiding. Preferring death to custody, the fugitives blew themselves up, killing a policeman in the process.'

- the Observer, whose leader column is, on a good day, an oasis of sanity in the Grauniad empire, putting the Forest Gate cock-up into context. If you're suffering from moonbattery withdrawal symptoms, just scroll down to the comments.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The PC prejudice

How does the Grauniad's Giles Fraser top his 'evangelicals are Nazis' piece? Easy - this time it's 'evangelicals are child-abusers'.

The evidence is of the standard we've come to expect. A couple have set themselves up as a 'ministry' advocating corporal punishment, and there has been one case of a mother using their views to rationalize her sadism. Obviously a fully representative sample of 30 million American conservative evangelicals. You can just imagine our Seumas commissioning a piece like this on Muslims, can't you?

Once again, I hold no brief for the happy clappies, being more of a bells and smells man myself. I do, however, have some knowledge gleaned from close quarters of the loving concern which evangelical parents can lavish on their children. So when it comes to newspapers tickling their readers' pet prejudices, I really can't see much to choose between the Grauniad and the Daily Mail.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Secular Bigots of the Independent no. 3

Today featuring not just any old letter-writer, but Hariboy in person!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Not so grumpy

To all who've come via the indescribably wonderful Laban Tall, welcome, and apologies for the lack of recent posts here, but there are plenty at Christian Hate?. Somehow haven't been feeling all that grumpy lately, but don't worry, I'm sure it's just a phase.

Incidentally I have in common with Laban not only the sad fact that I work, if that's not putting it too strongly, in I.T., but also a youth misspent in Militant Tendency. Spooky, huh?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Tit for tat

Laban Tall picked up on my last post and has thus earned instant reciprocation. This'll make you groan...