Farewell, Sylvester

We lost Sylvester today. Sylvester is a semi-feral tom cat who first appeared about 3 years ago. Initially he would just dart in through the cat-flap late at night and scarf down the food we’d left for Tigger and other visitors. You couldn’t touch him, but he seemed to like me sitting about six feet away and singing quietly to him. After two years or so of this I thought I’d try to tame him. I started getting closer to him and about six months ago stroked him for the first time. He liked it. After a few weeks of tentative handling he started to follow me & butt his head against my hand. One day I heard a rusty rumble: Sylvester, after perhaps a decade in the wild, had remembered from his kittenhood how to purr.

But all was not well. Toms get into fights: and about two years ago he lost an ear. After he had become tame – and he was a very affectionate cat, spending a long time each day stretched out with his face pushed into the palm of my hand or rolling over to have his tummy rubbed – Mum & I took turns trying to clean up the remains of his torn-off ear with warm salt water. But it just kept being re-infected. Unlike most cats he couldn’t jump up anywhere – I thought perhaps one back leg, held awkwardly, had broken and healed years ago. Then, a few weeks ago, a swelling started to appear beside the remains of the ear, and his back legs became very doddery. A visit to the vet was called for.

The news was very grim. Sylvester had diabetes. That would have needed two injections a day and an enforced restricted diet – very difficult when Smudge, our little ginger, is so fussy and needs to be coaxed with food. But for better or worse the decision was taken away from us when further investigation revealed a massively swollen kidney and at least one tumour.

Two days at the vet’s without me had turned Sylvester feral again: they said they could barely handle him. This morning I went down there and had a consultation with the vet. He took me into the kennels to see Sylvester. When the cage door was opened he hissed, cringed and spat, but within three minutes some Dreamies, some crooning and a few gentle strokes had reminded him of who I was, and once again he butted up to my hand and purred like a firehouse. I was crying and telling him how good and brave he was.

Andy the vet was very calm and sympathetic as I picked Sylvester up and cradled him in my arms. Sylvester is a big, muscular tom: the sedative took several minutes to take effect, but finally he lay still. Then came the second, lethal injection.

I am glad I had the courage to be with my Sylvester every moment of his final journey. No months of agony in a body resistant to all painkillers; no weeks of agony as nutrition is withdrawn; no days of agony while hydration is withdrawn. I hope to God someone does the same for me when my time comes.

Sylvester 1Sylvester 2Sylvester 3Sylvester 4

David Cameron is Inspired by My Speech (Allegedly)

On Sunday 18th October I asked a written question of the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He gave a written response, to which I replied from the floor in clarification:

My Question: How would it damage British Jewry to concentrate exclusively on working with Muslim groups and individuals who are not anti-Zionist – maybe Ahmadiyya, Sufis and Ismailis, – together with (say) DCLG, Eric Pickles and Quilliam, to encourage a peaceful, integrated, British kind of Islam to empower neutral, tolerant Muslims?

Answer from the President: The Board has a policy of co-operating with a variety of Muslim groups both to foster good relations between the communities and to work on issues of mutual interest – for example shechitah and brit milah. While we may not agree on all matters, it is far better to engage the Muslim communities rather than refuse to talk to anyone who does not agree with all of our views on Israel.

My response from the floor: Mr President, when I said we should work exclusively with Muslim groups and individuals who are not anti-Zionist, I wasn’t suggesting we reject approaches from such groups.
No, what I meant was that we shouldn’t be forever running after self-styled Muslim ‘community leaders’ in the name of inter-faith.
A century ago Colonel Albert Goldsmid, founder of our wonderful Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade, enjoined our immigrant forefathers to “iron out the ghetto bend”. No more should we be ‘trembling Israelites’.
We should have the confidence to know that, as fully integrated, contributing citizens of this country, our Brit Milah is first class surgery and our Shechita minimizes animal suffering. We can help our Muslim fellow-citizens improve their practices if they ask us: but under no circumstances should we ‘check the privilege’ so hard-won by our forebears.
There are nearly 3 million Muslims in Britain: don’t tell me that there aren’t a few tens, even hundreds of thousands who are happy to live & let live, and are only stopped from expressing themselves by fear of opposition or worse from the majority leaders.
I see no reason we can’t unapologetically cultivate those minority groups and voices within the ummah that are neutral or tolerant towards Israel.

I think David Cameron must have heard me. This piece by him appeared in ‘The Times’ the following day:

Times Articles Inspired by My BoD Speech (2)

If there is any doubt, here is the text of an e-mail I wrote to a number of my right-thinking fellow Deputies on 4th October, which I later condensed into my question:

Dear Friends,

I thought I’d just fly a kite in the run-up to the next BoD meeting.

Have any of you, like me, been frustrated and irritated by our communal leadership’s predilection for endlessly running after Muslim ‘community leaders’ in this country in the name of inter-faith?

It seems that the more they condemn Israel and become entrenched in their opposition to it as a Jewish state, the more our leaders tie themselves in knots and bend over backwards to try to appease them.

They emphasise our shared commitment to ritual male circumcision and religious slaughter, as if that somehow outweighs the standard Muslim narrative of ‘Death to Israel’.

How about a different approach?

Instead of making up to the MCB and the self-styled mainstream majority spokesmen for British Muslims, why don’t we cultivate those minority groups and voices within the ummah that are neutral or tolerant towards Israel?

There are nearly 3 million Muslims in Britain: don’t tell me that there aren’t a few tens, even hundreds of thousands who are happy to live & let live, and are only stopped from expressing themselves by fear of opposition or worse from the majority leaders.

How difficult would it be for us to work with (say) DCLG, Eric Pickles and the Quilliam Foundation to empower these neutral voices at the expense of the Islamists?

I’m thinking in terms of Ahmadiyya, Sufis and Ismailis; many of you will know others.

Or am I on to a total loser here?

Beaten Slave Time Ends!

Don’t forget, at 02:00 on Sunday 25th October, Beaten Slave Time ends and God’s Mellow Time begins. BST was invented in 1907 by an evil slave-driver called William Willett. He always awoke at dawn, feeling bright and full of beans, as do all vile swine, and straight away started hatching plots to further oppress his wretched wage-slaves, bitterly regretting that serfdom had been abolished. One morning he was riding out at dawn – no servile labour for him! – and became enraged at seeing the shuttered windows behind which his employees were sleeping, possibly having enjoyed social activities or even – horror! – sexual intercourse with their spouse the night before. How dare they sleep when there was enough light in the sky for them to start making him more money!
So he published a pamphlet “The Waste of Daylight”, pushing for the clocks to be put back in the summer.
Fortunately his father the Devil haled him off to a suitably early grave in 1915 at the age of 58, so he was deprived of seeing his perverted scheme being written into English law the following year. Let us hope he is roasting for all eternity, having his foreskin constantly punched by a red-hot time clock!

It Was Alright In The 1970s

Cecil Rhodes said: “To be born English is to win first prize in the lottery of life.” This is often seen as an expression of gloating triumphalism: but I would rather view it as a precursor of a well-known arachnid-related character’s catchphrase: “With great power comes great responsibility”.
So I was very depressed to see the harmless telly of the 1970s disembowelled by the sneers and exaggerated shock of a bunch of young whippersnappers in ‘It Was Alright In The 1970s’ (Ch4, 16th & 23rd Nov). They even managed to parade a couple of chaps who had actually been in the 1970s progs to shamefacedly condemn them, like Western hostages of the IS about to be beheaded.
The 1970s was the time of my teens and young adulthood. It was a golden era of galloping progress: we looked back at the war and the 1950s and saw how far we had come in terms of free speech, mod cons and technological development in every sphere. Everything seemed possible. I was looking forward to a life where I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to and might actually have a rich and enjoyable sex life, rather than the pre-60s norm of one fumbling and awkward shag leading to a couple with nothing in common being chained together for a lifetime for the sake of the child.
Didn’t quite work out like that, did it? Today the universe of public discourse seems to be hurtling back to a pre-Enlightenment mindset, where the rational separation between words and actions is being erased. We seem to have lost all psychological robustness.
I was much happier in a world where I could be unthinkingly happy to be male, heterosexual, British and white(-ish). I shall check my privilege when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.