Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John Reid: Gratifyingly Weird

Say what you like about our Home Secretary, he does have these moments of entertaining oddness. There was that 'not fit for purpose' remark about his own department, a phrase that has entered the contemporary vernacular. And now he has attempted to inspire our boffins by evoking the World War II legacy of Barnes Wallis (bouncing bomb inventor), Alan Turing (supreme codebreaker) and Tommy Flowers (builder of the first digital computer). Aside to my American readers: I know you think Brad Pitt or Ben Affleck did all these things first and better and that's fine, but not true. Reid was calling for a similar level of inventiveness in the war/battle (the terminology seems to be shifting) on terror. The introduction of the solid, garden shed, bakelite, biscuit tin world of Wallis, Turing and Flowers into our present floating reality is what I find odd and also faintly poetic. I have mocked Reid in the past by pretending he's a great poetry lover, but perhaps it is true. Or perhaps, old Marxist that he is, he pines for a vanished world of hard, real things that worked.


  1. Mr Reid might be interested in something I've been working on since September 2001. Briefly, it's a pair of underpants that has a built in device that can detect weapons of mass destruction. If any such weapons are detected by the underpants within a five-mile radius, they alert the wearer to the imminent threat and automatically turn an appropriate colour.

  2. I would have thought a nice contemporary comparison for him to make was the assitance of Wallace and Gromit rather than Barnes Wallis.

    The phrase war on terror is getting to me now. Who is this terror? Why do we keep creating it.

    I think I would prefer a dyslexic version: Wart on Error