Letter J

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Cases such as the one I have outlined [regarding failure to appear in court] are very common. All my doctor and lawyer friends are familiar with them. Their prevalence is part of the dialectical relationship between the degeneration of the public service, which is now a vast trough from which a large class of educated people feed, and the appalling behaviour of the public that makes the expansion of the public service necessary, or at least justifies it, in the first place. As a 16th-century German bishop put it, "the poor are a gold mine".

In the meantime, comrades (to quote the late Josef Stalin in another context), life is getting ever better, ever merrier: at least for the apparatchiks and nomenklatura of that vast organism that is spreading faster than killer bugs in the hospitals under its jurisdiction, the public administration of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Theodore Dalrymple

In an article called "Devious, dissembling, dodgy. And that's just the police" in the Times on 15 January 2007 the good Dr D (whom I recall reading in the Spectator during a 20-week trial subscription) referred, not entirely approvingly, to the equally pseudonymous author ("PC Copperfield") of the wonderfully entertaining "Wasting Police time" blog/book. My wife, unsuccessfully, used Germany's Google and the more traditional resources of her brother to (fail to) identify this bishop whom Dalrymple also refers to in his 2001 book Life at the Bottom: the worldview that makes the underclass. There's now a copy of this on its way via Amazon, because we both think such an outrageously cynical remark from a bishop at that time cannot have left so little trace, as it were.

Keith Joseph, immaculate in a Noël Coward dressing gown over his silk pyjamas, was the only one, so far as I could see, who had remembered his red Cabinet despatch box. He had been discovered sitting on it on the promenade immediately opposite the hotel staring calmly out to sea, which I thought was intellectual, sophisticated and entirely apropos for a Fellow of All Souls...

Ronald Millar

As described by Mrs Thatcher's speech writer, the late Ronald Millar. This was in the aftermath of the IRA bomb at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, site of the 1984 Tory Party conference. Alan Clark (by contrast) merely recalled Sir Keith "wandering around in a burgundy dressing gown."

The juvenile seasquirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn't need its brain anymore so it eats it. It's rather like getting tenure.

Warren C. Lathe III (trey@thelab.biology.rochester.edu)


Sid and Mummy stayed over at the Grail House last night, so was alone for the first time since the blitz started. Went up to Sid's bedroom and read all her juicy books about psychopaths and sexual abnormalities and the symbolism of dreams. There was one by Kraft Ebbing (sic) that got me so excited that I remembered something Leonard had told me and took a candle from the little altar. Now I suppose I'm completely beyond the pale as far as the Church is concerned.

Joan Wyndham

She has now written four marvellous autobiographical journals, the first two dealing with the madness of World War II, and some (actually, rather a lot of) lighter moments. Mind you, Richard Von Krafft-Ebing isn't exactly light bedtime reading. Although I lifted her quote straight from one of her diaries, I was amused to see exactly the same extract in The Assassin's Cloak.

From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbor.

Jerry Della Femina

Paradoxically, given the generally asinine results and (for example) the dismissively misogynistic jargon, (such as "Two Cs in a K" for housewives extolling to one another the virtues of the latest washing powder), advertising execs can really write when they put their minds to it. This phrase came from his book title, and arose, in turn, from a suggestion of his during a (chemically-assisted?) brain-storming session for a Japanese hifi manufacturer looking to break into the lucrative US market of the 1970s.

They do have a certain blunt charm in New Zealand where you may remember three years ago the Speaker ruled that "wanker" was indeed a legitimate parliamentary term. Well, they're still not mincing words. Commenting in a newspaper article on the composition of the new government, Sir Robert Jones, one of the country's leading businessmen, said briskly of one appointee: "Graeme Lee [minister for internal affairs] is a condom on the penis of progress."

The Guardian