Full refund within 30 days if you're not completely satisfied.
★ Great Bores of Today ★ No.38
‘…they’ve got this brilliant site on the internet now where you can look up your family history it’s really amazing I looked up mine and it goes right back my greatgreat-great-great-grandfather who was born in Swansea and he went to live in Watford where he married a lady from Sussex my uncle’s sister’s brother emigrated to
Canada and it’s got details of all his children and it says my great-grandfather was born in Croydon and married a woman from Devon they have even got the date when she died and the number of the house where she was born you should look up yours...’
© Fant and Dick
Tally ho! Change is under way at England’s most unconventional publishing house. The brainchild of the late lamented Michael Wharton (alias ‘Peter Simple’ of the Daily Telegraph), the R S Surtees Society was set up thirty years ago to republish the works of the great Victorian hunting novelist in cloth-bound facsimile editions complete with John Leech’s gloomy engravings of hounds streaming across bleak mid-winter fields.
Ignored by Eng Lit academics, who wrongly assume that his books appeal only to hunting fanatics and empurpled country gents, Surtees’s boisterous novels feature the Victorian equivalents of used-car salesmen flogging spavinned nags to unsuspecting squires, anxious mamas seeking husbands for their frumpish daughters, and dashing demimondaines like the cigarpuffing Lucy Glitters.
His admirers have included George Orwell, Siegfried Sassoon, V S Pritchett and (surprisingly) Virginia Woolf. Until recently the Society was run by Lady Pickthorn, who housed the books in a mediaeval barn near her home in Somerset; her successor is a Master of Foxhounds with a double first in English from Trinity, Cambridge. Oldie readers keen to learn more about Surtees and the Society should turn to www.rssurtees,com
Sara’s law This autumn, Israel has been embroiled in rows with both Turkey and Egypt, while in Tel Aviv half a million protesters took to the streets to complain about the high cost of living. So which burning issue has Prime Minister Benyamin
Netanyahu’s 30-strong National Information Directorate been preoccupied with?
Answer: it has been issuing a spate of press releases attacking the reputation of Tara Kumari, the sacked Nepalese careworker who had been looking after First Wife Sara Netanyahu’s 96-year-old father. According to the Directorate, the facts ‘prove that Kumari is a negligent caregiver, prone to temper tantrums, who failed to properly treat Mr Ben-Artzi.’ In fact, Ms Kumari’s real offence appears to be that she publicly claimed that the Netanyahus forced her to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that she had been injured during a confrontation with Mrs Netanyahu.
Israeli government officials are prohibited from dealing with politicians’ personal affairs, but when it comes to Mrs Netanyahu, all bets are off. Ha’aretz reported that she appeared in her husband’s office, shouting at the staff and demanding that press releases be sent out at once. ‘It is well known that anyone who does not conform to Mrs Netanyahu’s wishes soon finds himself without a job,’ a source told the newspaper.
Mrs N has a track record with domestic staff. Last year a housekeeper accused her of mistreating and underpaying her, and in 1997 a maid claimed she was bombarded with shoes because Sara didn’t like the way she had polished them.
Her husband is thought to be terrified of her, yet he is equally guilty of using the Directorate to promote personal matters. Press releases went out on the 100th birthday of his father, his son Avner’s triumph in the national Bible quiz, and of course, the saintly Sara’s philanthropic endeavours.
8 THE OLDIE – November 2011 D I A R Y
Voice from the Grave ‘There was never such a humbug as the Greek affair altogether. However, thank God it has never cost us a shilling, and never shall.’
The Duke of Wellington, February 1828. Quoted in TheBigBookof NationalInsults, Cassell 2002.
£25 paid for contributions
Dastardly Dick Richard McCarthy, the civil servant responsible for the controversial National Planning Policy Framework, caused a furore recently when he left government service to join Capita Symonds, a commercial company which advises planners on development. The National Planning Policy Framework has been criticised as being too favour-
able towards the building industry, and it is widely thought that McCarthy’s recruitement by the private sector constitutes a massive conflict of interest.
But what the news coverage of his departure didn’t mention was that McCarthy has made a habit of departing just as his products hit the fan. He left his post as chief executive of London’s oldest and largest housing association, the Peabody Trust, in late 2003, to join John Prescott’s government department. At the time, Inside Housing reported ‘a suspicion that problems within Peabody’s financial and customer service areas need to be sorted out.’ Two years later, Peabody was forced to sell hundreds of affordable homes to balance its books. One tenant wrote in the Guardian: ‘McCarthy is now at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, instructing housing associations... Has he ever been held to account for Peabody Trust failing to manage its finances properly?’
When one Oldie correspondent went to talk to him about the housing crisis under the last Labour government, she
Tips for Meanies
Of the many miracle products a Meanie should own, WD40 is a staple. Standing for Water Displacement at the 40th try, because it took that long to get the formula right, the product claims to have 2,000 uses, of which the more esoteric include keeping pigeons away from balconies (they hate the smell, apparently). Also try it for protecting silver from tarnishing, loosening zips, cleaning stainless steel, removing tomato stains, untangling jewellery chains, lubricating bicycles and polishing slate on fireplace surrounds.
found him sitting with his feet on his desk – where they remained during the entire exchange. She soon realised that she was her wasting time on an arrogant know-all.
Planet Snowbum Life knocks the edges off some very grand people. But not others. One undiluted grandee, Lord Snowdon, 81,was recently observed in Poissonnerie de L’Avenue, a smart oyster bar and fish restaurant, with a female dining companion. The lady made a comment to Snowdon about the traditional Routemaster buses and asked the photographer and former husband of Princess Margaret what he thought of the buses in question. ‘Buses?’ he said incredulously, ‘I’ve never been on a bus in my life.’
To him who hath… When the Coalition government came to power, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles opined that nobody in the public sector should be paid more than the £142,500 earned by David Cameron.
With that in mind, Devonians were furious to learn that their county council had extended the contract of a consultant called Malcolm Vede.
He was appointed in May 2010 for six months, but is still on the council’s books at a whopping £3,575 per week – almost £50,000 more per year than the PM receives.
Vede (who is assistant director for in-house social care provision for older people and learning disability services) has been busy earning his lucre by visiting care homes and annoying poorly-paid frontline staff. One care worker, who wisely wished to remain anonymous, told the Western Morning News: ‘He came to our Home and spent an hour and a quarter telling us what to do and what not to
Not many dead
Important stories you may have missed
A wild hedgehog had to be rescued after it became stuck in a log. Aberdeen Press and Journal
The remnants of Hurricane Katia whipping across the Atlantic from North America put paid to this small tree in Hillshott,
Letchworth Garden City. Stevenage Comet (with photograph of small uprooted tree)
The Hollywood star Halle Berry braved cool showery weather as she filmed scenes for a movie in Scotland. Sunday Times
Eastleigh Borough Council has scooped the RSPCA’s English
Borough Council Innovator prize in the charity’s annual award ceremony for the work it has done to combat illegal horse-tethering. Southern Daily Echo
£25 paid for entries do. It was a complete waste of time. He even said he wants to employ more consultants to work with him, and has applied to the county council to do this. On the other hand we have had to cut back to just £18.20 a week to feed our residents.’
While Vede hangs on in his highly-paid position, the council has slashed its budget by £90 million over two years. Rural bus services are having their subsidies slashed. Youth workers are being made
November 2011 – THE OLDIE 9