Some articles from The Little Red Email

The Little Red Email was a site on which I was a columnist when I first came to Hong Kong. Its Editor, a fine young Harrovian “Old Boy”, advised me in no uncertain terms that my Word Limit was 600 words. One prefers a more expansive style but nonetheless it was fun and educational to compress my ideas into this format, even as Bertie Russell learned how to be witty and amusing in a small space when William Randolph Hearst engaged him to write bigod short columns for the San Francisco Examiner.

Here are some examples of my content at The Little Red Email.

3 May 2007: Christopher Buckley Makes a Modest Proposal: I Reply

Christopher Buckley’s new book was being aggressively promoted [in the USA during my 2007 visit]. It’s real funny as in ha ha. It’s a tongue in cheek satirical future history in which the Baby Boomers are sent to the gas chamber because their Social Security is too expensive.

Hey, that’s great, Christopher Buckley. Fuck you, asshole, OK?

30 June 2006: I Comment on the 2006 World Cup

Perhaps the delay in getting out the Little Red Email was a result of the football playoffs. Our Fantasy Island resounds to many a strange cry as miniature wars erupt between surprising pairs of countries; what’s Britain to Ecuador, and Ecuador to Britain? Plenty, it appears.

Intelligent, civilised, and cultured men turn glassy eyed and turn their sweeties glassy eyed in turn, as they discuss, hariscupate and scry the fortunes of their team. On the giant screens, the players wheel in a most entertaining fashion punctuated by the mighty hwomph of a ball struck true.

In the stands the fans sing incomprehensible anthems dating from the War of the Spanish Succession: Marlborough he was a wee man wot went to war but yo Mither is a Tory and she’s no sorry, ihren ist entfurhen in das Jungle-zeit, undt deine Mutter ist ein Aff, yamana helosa boom yo mama, l’Anglais sont frais mauvaise quart d’heure avec votre Maman, and your Mither is in the close, with Montrose.

It’s all very atavistic. Some Women of Britain have formed a League to eradicate football from England, and when I told this to a highly intelligent and cultured British friend he turned a whiter shade of pale and muttered dark things about maleus maleficarum and hags on heaths.

More reasonable and realistic females instead patronize hotels, tea-shops and estaminets from Hong Kong to London that promise an environment free of football, with instead high tea, scones, witty conversation, and a string quartet (who have each a fiver on the game).

American baseball is by contrast a tragic game. It is overdetermined by market relations and the tragical Cubs, of Chicago, cannot overcome the fact that their opponents are owned and operated by wealthier thugs so that the wealthier men’s team usually wins.

Of course, there is big money in world football as well. The difference is that the governments more enthusiastically support the national teams and this automatically lessens the influence of loud, stupid, and vulgar rich men.

However, what’s really disgusting is the way in which politicians like Tony Blair fall over their panty hose in order to act matey during the World Cup, talking of their love for the lads and the game. It’s a put-up job. George Bush’s only (and I do mean only) redeeming quality is that his love for baseball is honest.

It is said that “the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton”. This is a bit of Victorian ahistorical BS, like the Coronation baubles that were created, according to E. F. Hobsbawm in The Invention of Tradition, for Vickie’s accession in order to chill the Chartists.

The Battle of Waterloo wasn’t rehearsed by playing games. It was rehearsed by blowing in the door of the Headmaster’s study with a cannon, roasting younger boys over coals, dueling with sabres and pistols, and “wronging the ancientry and getting wenches with child”.

Victorian headmasters, not wanting any more to have to patch the door, codified rules and “sportsmanship” after the battle of Waterloo starting with Thomas Arnold, the head-master of Rugby. The result was the Crimea, and the Charge of the Light Brigade; a sporting gesture: c’est magnifique, mais c’est ne pas le guerre.

In America, in the 1890s, Harvard and Yale students were still carrying on in the old style. “Football” was a mere melee and here, it was Teddy Roosevelt who popularized the very idea that a “gentleman” would follow the rules rather than stomp on the foeman’s John Thomas.

Today, this dialectic has been resolved. Players both follow the rules and violate them when no-one’s looking. There’s a general idea that you stay within the rules but there is no need to lose.

At the same time, all but we wee Americans know it is just a game; we matched the Italians last week for lack of true sportsmanship, but the Italians didn’t channel Mussolini. The Americans talked as if the game was a war.

In Shenzen, I defended a goal for my software company in gathering smoggy twilight against a team much larger in size than my homeys. A mass of Young China was coming at me like the Golden Horde or the Gashouse Gorillas. From the mass emerged the ball, which I caught.

But I can draw no great lessons in life from this.

A football-free Britain? Britain was free of football in the middle ages, so for fun the lads ran off to Palestine and then to France.

Boys, in fine, will be boys.

22 July 2006: Brush Up Your Shakespeare

 
BRUSH UP YOUR SHAKESPEARE

As is now well known, during the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, President Bush was at a diplomatic bunfight in St. Petersburg when Tony Blair tried to engage him in a discussion on the use of an enlarged multinational force to create a buffer zone in Lebanon because, as is now well known, the Israelis have brutalized Lebanon, again; it seems like just yesterday that Madonna was going with Sean Penn, and Lebanon was being attacked for being a multiconfessional state that doesn’t have the resources to control terrorism.

As is now well known, the President of the United States doesn’t have enough class to stop snarfing Cheeze Doodles and turn to respectfully address his interlocutor even when the interlocutor was the Queen’s first minister, who found himself humiliated on a Shakespearean scale.

I am all too familiar with the strategic oaf, and his use of deliberate boorishness to communicate his importance and my being worth bugger all. Common courtesy is an option for fools and required only of the servant class.

In my mind’s eye (Horatio) I see Blair in a hallway of some deserted hotel ballroom unmasked, breaking down in tears at the humiliation of it all and asking God, why me.

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
In my blind eye, I see as Homer saw: Blair as Hecuba “threatening the flames with bissom rheum”
 
[“Bissom rheum” are tears, in Shakespeare’s send-up of bad blank verse in the episode of the Player King]”.
I have been there. You do everything right, and some clown with half your class humiliates you, and, in Blair’s case, your country, and, in Blair’s case on worldwide TeeVee.

The clown with no class is renarrated to you as normalcy yet it comes to you that this may not so, that there is no such thing as the normal heart, and that history can be told as a sort of rape of Europa, a flaying of the satyr Marysas, and a family from a village near Tyre blown to bits.

The normal heart would not pimp your fucking ass with the Liar Paradox. The Liar, who is consciously at war with his father has been telling the Right Honourable gentleman all along, broadband through words and body language, winks and shoulder rubs, that he, the Liar, is in a state of war, an Hobbesian state of war that started when the Liar President kicked the shit out of his baby brother in order to watch him cry. When the Big Liar told Jeb that the Easter Bunny would bring presents in addition to sweets.

Everything I say is a lie, including this statement. Whatchoo gonna do about it? Ha ha ha.

Mom, he’s doin’ it again! For the horde has killed the absent Father.

In a state of war everything I tell you (all) is a lie, and you are a fool to have trusted me. “I’m [Ah’m] a war Prezdent. I [Ah] goes to work with war on my (mah) mind.”

Care for a Cheeze Doodle? We take you now to Spinoza’s Shakespeare Festival and Beach Volleyball Tournament, soon to be seen on our Fantasy Island once I, like Taxi Driver, get organasized:

Prime Minister Blair: Good my lord, a multinational force of armed men
Should go, as on a crusade, to the Holy Land.
President Bush: The irony of it, as the right honorable gentleman oughta know
Is that the paynim have only to stop all their paynim shit
Put down their bright swords for the Mountain Dew will rust them
And allow us to be magnaminous. [Exit President Bush, munching Cheese Doodles.]
Prime Minister Blair, solus: O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
A president had Cheeze Doodles in his lap
And munched, and munched and munched.
Heavy lies the head that wears the crown:
I took it up but Labour would I to put it down!

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