Mr Versi’s revisions

I have written before about the work of Miqdaad Versi and I note that his actions are now reported to be more targeted and disciplined. He now also writes for the Guardian.

It is not that I want people to search for errors, but I would like journalists to be held to a standard of decency that sets the tone for any future or current debate. I went back and reread what I wrote earlier- mostly it was a groan about the gathering campaign of Mr Trump who tomorrow is inaugurated as 45th President of the US. Rather like Brexit, this is something we must now accept as reality. We cannot wring our hands and protest that we did not vote for this, want it, or indeed that we do not recognise the outcome. It is our job to make the best of a given result. That is the reality of politics.

More than that, the Trump Presidency has an impact well-beyond the borders of the US and he has a direct effect on many people therefore who were never given an opportunity to vote for him in the first place. The much-hyped concept of 51% voting for such and such is irrelevant actually. The only relevant fact is the reality we face, and we move forward in the knowledge that that is the reality we must address.

In contrast to the worried views of the “Spiked on line” people, and particularly the rather petulant Tom Slater (who thinks Versi is trying to “ring-fence Islam from criticism”), I think it is the quiet and careful actions of people like Mr Versi that will tone down the more extreme rhetoric that was used by Trump and his followers during the US election campaign. Let’s hope Trump’s more extreme remarks were the product of ignorance. Ignorance, as Plato says, can always lead to knowledge and knowledge is “the Good”.

To his credit, Mr Trump has mellowed of late and is clearly seeking and taking advice. Like Mr Reagan, Trump shows all the signs of being a good delegator, something we over here need to learn. Maybe it is time for a big businessman to take on the establishment. I loved the Peter Brooke’s cartoon a few days ago in the Times that celebrated Trump while also recording the end of the Barnum and Bailey/Ringling brothers’ circus. In fact, I increasingly love Peter Brookes! His observation demands scrutiny and his drawing alone merits some study. He has been on a bit of a roll recently while Riddell, in the Observer, whose work I think is a natural successor to Tenniel, has been a bit “same-y”.



Trump needs a trim

We live in a world dominated by peculiarly dull politicians, so it ought to make sense that those with a little eccentricity get support. Trump, sadly goes too far. He is an engaging speaker but he is not a politician: he is more of a fairground bouncer, a barnum and bailey carousel barker, but the joke has worn thin as I suggest has his hair, and it is time to call time on this playground parody. He needs a trim.

I have issues with The new Mayor, Khan, but I like the way he has responded to Trump’s offer that Khan might be the new Jesse Owens, the single blessed exception to his pernicious anti-Muslim rule. Khan knows the concession validates the underlying rule -and we can never dignify the ravings of a man hiding beneath a bird’s nest. Heaven forbid that he might win- that would be one weird cuckoo taking over the Whitehouse!


Hair and history

History has often savaged political leaders blessed with a luxuriant mane. Heseltine, Foot and Alexander the Great all tripped up and lost the game when they seemed to be winning, and Boris’s mop may well prove to be his downfall too. The spectre of Samson looms large but we cannot go too far with this imagery because it was undue criticism of Trudeau’s hair that gave him some sort of advantage and La Clinton’s hair barely merits a mention these days which may well usher her back into the Whitehouse.

At the beginning of the current US campaign, the Obama team tried to rubbish Trump’s hair with claims that it was all fake. There has been talk about Trump’s use of an ointment called Rogaine (he handed it out to one of his employees apparently who was suffering hair loss), of his having had a surgical flap (a form of hair transplant) and grafts like some sort of cranial rose. But surely we are beyond that now- can floppy hair ever explain his rudeness, racism and bigotry? can so many wives and girlfriends be combed away so easily? I am with Cameron and Khan in sniffing at his bonce. Can these teflon locks really explain why Trump gets away with the worst excesses of follicular audacity? Is it hair, or does Trump conceal some sort of blond rodent presumably whispering inanities into his hidden ear – a bit like the rat in “Ratatoille” – is he in short, the Davy crocket of the 21st century-  It may not be a hairpiece- it may be an earpiece, or maybe Trump believes it is the word of God. Moses had long hair too, remember?

And is that Trumping racoon dangerous?

The answer regrettably is yes, and if Trump says we need to get out of Europe, there can be only one sane response. We need to stay, but we need to make sure we’ve got a sturdy pair of scissors to hand for all the trimming we will need to do. We have to remember the History of Europe- but we have to be mindful of recent scissoring too. Can we ever forget the haircuts given to Greece? Unless Mrs Merkel wants to present herself as a modern-day Dalilah, a trip to the barber should be a joy, not a punishment.

louis XVI

Roman soldiers had short hair- probably a reason why St Paul promoted haircuts in the New Testament, though, of course, the rabbis might tell a different story- and certainly in Hassidic Judaism, it would be the women (the wig wearers) who shave their hair while the men still grow it in elegant tassles, as indeed do Orthodox monks (the man bun is not just for John Snow). British history, meanwhile, pitches the long-haired Royalists against the sturdy Roundheads, suggesting that short hair means business (Nicola Sturgeon?). But short hair historically has also been associated with slavery and long hair has been tied up with liberation and the urge to rebel (remember the musical “Hair”?).

Moving from politics, there have been some notable long haired men, often scientists- Robert Boyle (as in Boyle’s law), Dmitri Mendeleev, the periodic table man, Carl Linnaeus (the “Gorilla Gorilla” man from Biology), Da Vinci, Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein of course and Isaac Newton, but also artists like Jim Morrison, Bob Marley, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Oscar Wilde, Franz Liszt, Leif Segerstam (who puts me to shame) Stokowski, Jesus, Brian May and so on. But then there is Richard Branson, and immediately we start to think again of Mr Trump and of the desperate need for both a decisive tonsure and a monastic vow of silence.

Whatever nonsense might be in his head, whatever words he utters, the curse of Trump’s excessive hair never really goes away. It has becoming an icon of insanity, whether ours or his I suppose will be decided at the Presidential election.