Essays in Idleness


Perylene Friday

First, a mendicant item. I am of the Scotch genetic persuasion, devilish proud. I do hate begging. But this can be a problem, if one is a beggar. So please, gentle reader, go now to the “Pay!” button. I haven’t asked for a long time (owing to Scotch pride), and my supply of money dwindles. […]


If we could only go back and live our lives again, knowing what we know now: ah! what a mess we could make! In my case, the mess I made of life was appalling, but could have been much worse. That it wasn’t, I attribute to beginner’s luck; and perhaps, a lack of ambition. For […]

Two for the ages

The combination of intelligence with integrity is rare, but it does happen, and a friend points to Jacob Rees-Mogg in the British House of Commons. My curiosity for what goes on in that chamber has waned over the years, but I had noticed this unusual man in news dispatches, and found myself alertly attending all […]

On lacking respect

Wit, to some purpose, is satire, and satire is a spoliation of dignity, according to D. J. Enright, the late British “mendicant professor” (as the authorities in Singapore labelled him, after he mildly criticized their “sarong culture,” in 1960). He wrote, too, about his experience of Japan, and tried to explain why Japanese humour is […]

Scalfari & the phantastiacal

In a dream, I was having an argument with Steve Bannon. He wasn’t listening to me, he was hectoring me instead, about this and that. I love the guy — he is quite the character — but he can be overbearing at times. I was making a point he should jolly well have understood, but […]

Something & Roy Moore

I don’t think I would flourish as a big league politician; or even a little league politician. Faced with a problem like Roy Moore, the Merican Senatorial candidate who is the target of rather florid accusations in skunk media such as the Washington Post — and charged with the task of defending the blighter — […]

Near & far

Will there be a baby boom when the Culture Wars are over? Or will there be none because they never end? The thought occurred to me while reading that, with a wink to our Holy Father, their government has instructed the Poles to, quote, “Breed like rabbits.” The virtue of your old-fashioned, apocalyptically violent war, […]

A plea for selfishness

I have been told the central problem in politics is that people are selfish. I don’t believe this. I think the central problem is spite. I think that if the “natural man” would vote consistently in his own interest, and by extension in that of his close family, the world would get along tickety-boo. On […]

The kids today

Only ten thousand or so were slaughtered in the initial stage of the Red Terror, which accompanied Lenin’s German-assisted coup d’état in Russia, a hundred years ago. This first slaughter was selective, and personal; the Bolsheviks had made lists. We commemorate not a “revolution” but a successful putsch, in which one faction (the most fanatic, […]

On the 365th day

I was not surprised when Mr Donald Trump won the Natted States presidential election last year. I didn’t want him to win — I didn’t want anyone to win — but it seemed to me from the start of the campaign that he had the formula. That is, lots of people liked him. Whereas, nobody […]

Death the real illusion

In this Catholic season of death — All Hallowtide, still within the Octave — one’s thoughts run to the whole history of death, and dead people. This especially in light of advancing age, and the prospect of becoming dead oneself. The topic is so large, a certain focus is inevitable. England, for instance, where I […]


[This item brought forward five years, and rewritten.] * One of the first things I did, upon becoming a Christian, is stopped going to church. Er, perhaps that sentence will need glossing. It is intentionally misleading. Except weddings and funerals, attended from politeness; except a few events in childhood, dragged or pulled; I was no […]

Protestant Hallowe’en

My Chief Texas Correspondent, who loves to tease, sends me this morning an electronic clipping from the Wall Street Journal. It is entitled, “The Real Story of the Reformation,” and is by Eric Metaxas, darling to a certain class of “conservatives.” The account is no more “real” than the standard fairy tale of Luther nailing […]