Travel notes: Chelmsford

To Chelmsford for a meeting this afternoon, and lunch in the Acanteen cafe on New London Road (address). A nice stripped-wood cafe, with a good range of sandwiches and drinks. Didn’t try the coffee, but the ambience was very good. A scrambled egg on toast was OK, but a bit bland and accompanied by rather tough sausages. My host’s chicken soup looked better.

Who cares most?

Scott Adams – Dilbert’s creator – has an amusing suggestion on his blog. It is that, in relationships, and perhaps in life, decisions should always be left to the person who cares most about them. Thus marital disagreements will be avoided and wives those who care most will be left secure in their superiority. Adams adds:

Many women and some men who read this blog will sharply disagree with my gross generalization. To you I say with all sincerity, “You’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Prince Sakharov

I’ve been refraining from commenting on the sad story of the noted dissident Prince Charles, still held under palace arrest by Chairman Blair’s brutal moderno-realist junta. When will the world speak up in favour of absolutism and hereditary privilege against these brutal elected politicians?

OK, sarcasm over. Charles, who seems more pathetic from day to day, has placed a story with the papers that says he will refrain from public comment on contentious issues when (if) he becomes King. Of course that doesn’t mean he’ll actually understand his role as the powerless figurehead of an ossified hereditary system. For starters,

the Prince will keep circulating journals of his thoughts to a close group of friends

even though a free Blogger account would surely save a few trees.

Second, and more disturbingly for fans of democracy,

he will not need to write to ministers because he will see the Prime Minister every week and be able to make his views known then.

Just like he does now, in fact.

Final point on this depressing story. According a senior Clarence House source, quoted in the Observer, no-one can tell whether Charles’s views are left or right. That at least is right, because if you showed me a royalist and a member of the landed aristocracy, who was a strong supporter of tradition, hated modern architecture and intensive farming, was deeply suspicious of foreigners, supported fox hunting and thought that people should just know their place, I would be absolutely unable to say whether their views were right wing or not.

Oh, donations to the slightly loopy Republic campaign can be made here.


The Irish have a good website left over from when they went metric on their road signs. Now there are calls for the UK to do the same, but obviously it would be the end of the world, the nation would collapse, no-one in the country can understand kilometres even though they’ve been taught in schools for forty years, our masters in Brussels etc.

Whatever. Maybe I should just move to Ireland. Their paranoid wing doesn’t appear to be in control.

Shrine bombings

(NYT) Blast Destroys Golden Dome of Sacred Shiite Shrine in Iraq:

The shrine housed the tombs of two revered leaders of Shiite Islam and symbolized the place where the Imam Mahdi, a mythical, messianic figure, disappeared from this earth. Believers in the imam say he will return when the apocalypse is near, to cleanse the world of its evils.

Does this sound like anyone we know? The NYT’s straight-faced approach to this ‘mythical figure’ made me smile.

Privacy and rationality

Two nice quotes from this week’s New York Review. First, Clive James on Philip Larkin:

Always averse to the requirements of celebrity, he didn’t find out enough about them, and never realised that beyond a certain point of fame you not only don’t have a private life any more, you never had one.

And from the Mughal Emperor Akbar:

The pursuit of reason and rejection of traditionalism are so brilliantly obvious as to be above the need of argument. If traditionalism were proper, the prophets would merely have followed their own elders.