Jan 232010
 

Cranmer highlights another step in Evan Harris MP’s campaign to amend the ban on members of the royal family marrying (or being) Catholics. He points out some interesting features of this campaign, not least that it is centred around the wrong Act of Parliament.

It turns out that the Act of Settlement of 1701 is, apparently, in breach of some articles of the ECHR, namely the right to marry and the prohibition of religious discrimination.

Let’s put this into perspective, y’all. The rules of succession of this country are a nonsense, and always have been, and the idea that there is any fixed procedure besides expediency – let alone one that takes into account anyone’s rights – is ludicrous.

First, members of the royal family are allowed to marry Roman Catholics. There is nothing to prevent them. But if they do, they cease to be considered in the line of succession to the throne.

As far as I’m aware, being in line to the throne is not a right enshrined in the ECHR. So if you marry a Roman Catholic, you lose your place in that line. But your human rights have not been breached.

This attempt to make the line of succession some kind of equal-rights procedure seems very silly to me. By its very definition, the royal family is not an equal-rights institution. It is a family. Everyone who is not a member of that family is debarred from taking part in what it does. If there are then further conventions about who in the family is permitted to do what and when, fine. If the rules of the family say you can’t be the head honcho if you marry (or are) a Roman Catholic, meh. Those are choices you, as an individual, have to make. Peter Phillips and his bride made just such a choice – she converted to Anglicanism before their wedding. She didn’t have to do that. And he didn’t have to marry her. These were voluntary decisions made in full knowledge of all the consequences.

Second, Evan Harris MP seems bothered by the fact that succession in this country is by male primogeniture. Nominally it may be, but in reality this is piffle.

The ‘male’ part, of course, a holdover from the warlike-chieftain days of yore, when the leader of the tribe was also the leader of the war-band, so he kind of had to be a man. But, as Tacitus relates in the Germania, the line of succession in the Germanic tribes from whom the English were descended was always through the female. The chieftain’s brothers, and the children of his sisters, were his successors. A man’s sister’s children were closer to him than his own, always.

Why? Because they were the children he could be sure were related to him by blood. His wife’s children may or may not be of his blood, but his sister’s children surely were. And so the chieftain’s nephews would be his successors in the next generation, and the chieftain’s nieces would carry on the bloodline in their own offspring.

This tradition continued, generally speaking, during the Anglo-Saxon period in England for a good long while (with a few alterations). Brother succeeded brother; nephew succeeded uncle. The significant alterations came in when this was not possible, or when the natural successor was considered unfit by the witan or the war-band. Then an alternate might be chosen by election (roughly) or acclamation.

It wasn’t until William the Conqueror came over with his feudalism and his Norman barons and his hey-that-hurts that this all changed. The Norman nobility had a different system, and when they became the nobility of England, that system took root. It was not the sons of the sisters who took precedence, but the sons of the chieftain himself. Though the Normans had been Germanic, too, they were also the vassals of the king of France – and French succession operated according to a version of the Salic tradition of direct male descendants.

In this tradition, the remote chance that the chieftain’s wife had cuckolded him was apparently considered a negligible problem when laid against all of the advantages and skills a child would have who had been trained and brought up by the chieftain himself. And rules of succession, wherever one may have been, could be (and sometimes were) bent to the point of breaking if the legal heir was considered unfit.

And so England’s throne became one of direct male primogeniture, in general. But then this got screwed up in 1399, and direct male primogeniture has been a happy fantasy ever since.

The first hiccough: Richard II, grandson of Edward III through his first-born son the Black Prince, was deposed for being ‘unfit’ by Henry IV, also a grandson of Edward III but through his third son, John of Gaunt. Eventually this led to the Wars of the Roses, out of the wreckage of which came Henry VII – whose only blood claim to the throne was as the son of the great-great-granddaughter of Edward III (by his third son, John of Gaunt). Sound torturous? Yeah. Male primogeniture took sort of a back seat there. Restoring it was still a happy hope until Henry VIII came along, who fucked it all up.

When he died, Edward VI (son of Henry VIII) had no sons or brothers, and Henry VIII had no brothers with issue, and Henry VII had had no brothers, and before that there had been a massive tangle. Finding direct male descendants of the last absolutely solid English king, Edward III, would have been pretty fucking difficult by 1553 even had Henry VIII not had most of them judicially murdered to preserve his own claim to the throne. There was no question that succession would have to go through a female line somewhere.

Henry VIII had had two sisters: Margaret, who married the king of Scotland, and Mary, who had married lesser nobleman Charles Brandon. At that point, primogeniture should have demanded that Margaret’s male descendants inherit the throne of England; unfortunately, she had none, and the monarch of Scotland at the time was an 11-year-old Catholic girl engaged to the Dauphin of France. The prospect of one day becoming part of the kingdom of France was intolerable to the English, never mind the abhorrent Catholicism. So they turned to Mary’s line. And, alas, she had no male descendants either!

There was a female, though, a nice Protestant girl called Lady Jane Grey. She was proclaimed queen in short order, with the prior approval of the dying Edward VI.

But this was stupid, no? If there were going to be a female monarch, as there had never been before, why someone with such a tenuous blood tie to the previous king? Why not Edward VI’s older sister Mary, the legitimate (de facto if not de jure) daughter of Henry VIII? Mary thought so too, and rocked up in London immediately. Parliament heaved a massive sigh of relief, declared her the rightful queen, and started praying that, even in her late age, Mary could somehow produce a son.

It’s a lot more complicated than that, of course, but you can see the tangled crap that has always been the rules of succession in England. They were so flexible, in fact, that Henry VIII and Edward VI both tried legal means to straighten them out. Henry VIII used Acts of Parliament; Edward VI tried to circumvent them in his will. Neither was successful.

There was another hitch when Mary died without children; the Catholic queen of Scotland was by then no longer attached to France, but the English had had enough of Catholics, so they chose Elizabeth – who also died without children. And, at long last, they found a man: James, the good Protestant son of Mary, Queen of Scots, whose relationship to Elizabeth was remote but who was at least a direct descendant of Henry VII, if though a bunch of women.

By then, of course, the English had decided it was okay to have queens if you couldn’t find a suitable king, which was how the country ended up with Mary II and Anne: there were available men by that time, but they were ‘unsuitable.’ But when Anne died without surviving children in 1714, the English (well, British by this point) had to go on the hunt again – this time even more circumscribed by the ‘no Catholics’ rule – and finally lit upon some random Hanoverian who was descended from James I (through his daughter) and bore absolutely no resemblance to anything that could be called a ‘direct male descendant’ of anyone who had ever been king of England.

And of course the present monarch is not even his ‘direct male descendant,’ since she is not only not a man, but she’s descended from him through a woman (Victoria).

So. Given that male primogeniture was a rule only when it could be applied, and has only rarely been applicable since 1399, why mess around with it now? It’s not like the English have ever given a shit, and who the monarch is hardly even matters these days anyway. Let the royal family sort it out for themselves. Surely there are better uses for Evan Harris MP’s time.

Ringing in 2010

 fabulae  Comments Off on Ringing in 2010
Jan 012010
 

The Devil and I attended a lovely house party last night in honour of the new year. Not only was it tremendously pleasant to meet (and re-meet) some very interesting and friendly people, it was gratifying to learn that some of them read this blog.

Wii Karaoke competitions also took place – how many of you would have thought that the Devil has a lovely singing voice? Also good drink, good food made by the lady of the house, and excellent conversation.

Needless to say, I had a very enjoyable time. And as I always try to start as I mean to go on, this bodes very well for 2010. Here’s hoping the rest of you enjoyed the changing of the year and look forward to more good times to come!

Dec 202009
 

DK has tagged me to do this meme; I turned sixteen in 1997 and was, frankly, a bit of a jackass. Receiving this letter probably wouldn’t have changed that, but hey, you never know.

My dear,

Having been invited by others to advise you about the twelve years to come, please find below a few tips and reassurances. I won’t say too much – time paradox and all that – but I hope you’ll find the general thrust of my advice useful.

My first tip: broaden your ambitions. I know you harbour vague thoughts about going to a small liberal arts university and becoming an English teacher. Abandon those. You’ll realise soon the virtues of anonymity amongst the hordes and warm weather – not to mention that, just in the nick of time, you’re going to realise that it’s not the ‘literature’ part of English literature you enjoy. Go with that instinct – it’ll make you happy.

You also see ahead of yourself, whenever you bother to think about it, a pretty unremarkable lifestyle, living the American dream. Well, you’re living it at the moment; think about how much you enjoy it now, and imagine what it’ll be like when you try it on your own in a couple of years’ time.

My second tip: avoid becoming materialistic. I hate to break it to you, but you’re destined for the life of a nomad. I won’t horrify you with the details of how many times you have to pack up your shit and move it. Just take my word for it that acquiring more stuff than you need is going to cause you more trouble than it’s worth.

My third tip: when, in a few years, you decide to pursue your further academic career, ignore the cost and do it. It’s not going to turn out the way you think, but it’s going to lead you to interesting places. There will be ups and downs, but persevere through the downs: the ups are more than sufficient reward.

My fourth tip, which follows on from the third: when you encounter other obstacles to your wishes, don’t give up. This isn’t an inspirational platitude; I’ve seen time and again that when you bust your ass, you succeed. In time, you will come to regard this quality of yourself as a kind of mystical power. Just remember the converse is also true: when you don’t bust your ass, you fail. And you will fail. More than once. The greatest of those failures will come in November 2000. Ride it out: it’s your threshold to adulthood, and between you and me, you dodged a bullet there.

Finally, a word about men. You go out with anybody who asks, and you aren’t afraid to be the pursuer. People will frown on this, but keep it up. Every loser you date because you like the look of his cheekbones, or because he made an intellectual remark about philosophy, is going to provide you with valuable learning experience. And one day, via a series of random and unlikely-in-retrospect events, you’re going to come across a man who combines the best in cheekbones, intellect, and various other qualities you’ll come to value. When circumstances bring you to his attention, remember my fourth tip.

Oh – and in 2002, keep your eyes open for a conjunction of Latin and libertarianism. You’ll know it’s coming up when a total stranger insults you gratuitously in public. That incident will change your life.

Godspeed.

Dec 082009
 

As some of you may remember, I have had tremendous difficulties navigating my way through the UK Border Agency’s Byzantine bureaucracy in my attempts to maintain settlement here this year.

First, I was told in February that, because of the change in immigration laws, I would no longer qualify for renewal of my sponsored work permit. Teaching had been classed as a shortage occupation, obviating the need for employer-sponsors to justify hiring non-EU employees. After the change in laws, this applied only to teachers of maths and sciences – and, as a result, my school informed me they would not be able to continue employing me after my work permit expired.

Second, I decided to apply for a Tier 1 (Highly Skilled Migrant) permit, which would not be tethered to a particular job or employer. The application was tremendously complex, involving 50 pages of guidance notes, the provision of innumerable documents proving my recent earnings, educational attainments, mastery of the English language, maintenance of funds, and an £820 ‘processing fee.’ The endeavour was so complex that I had to call the Immigration Enquiries Bureau to clarify that I was doing it correctly.

Meanwhile, in the hope that I would receive this Tier 1 permit, I applied for a job at a different school and was offered the position.

I finally submitted the application in May; at the beginning of June, it was returned, marked ‘Refused,’ because, as it happened, the Immigration Enquiries Bureau didn’t know what they were talking about. When I rang them again, the same day I received the refusal notice, to clarify the same point that had resulted in refusal, they gave me the same incorrect information.

I wrote a pleading letter to the UKBA asking for reconsideration, and a pleading letter to my MP asking for advisement. My MP replied quite quickly to tell me he had taken the matter straight to Alan Johnson, the then-new Home Secretary. UKBA…didn’t reply at all.

Meanwhile, I contacted the new school where I was to start work in September and asked them to pursue a sponsored work permit. They told me they’d have to rescind the contract we’d signed and re-advertise the position in order to prove there were no qualified British/EU applicants.

At the beginning of July, my MP forwarded on to me a letter he had received from the Deputy Chief Director of UKBA. The DCD and his caseworkers had, according to the letter, reviewed my case and decided to stand by the original refusal. The same day I received this communication, the new school wrote to inform me that, alas, there were many qualified British/EU applicants for my position, and they were going to have to hire one of them instead of me. So, no sponsored work permit would be forthcoming (as I had suspected would be the case anyway).

Devastated and facing ‘voluntary repatriation,’ I travelled to the US for a week for a friend’s wedding. Upon re-entry to the UK at Heathrow, I was detained by the immigration officials, even though I had done nothing illegal and my work permit was not due to expire for another 28 days. Their justification for detaining me, they said, was that I might overstay my visa at some point in the future. They could also see, on their passport database, they the Tier 1 permit I’d applied for had been refused; but as their database didn’t tell them the circumstances of that refusal, I looked doubly suspicious to them. Since, however, they could not get away with further detaining me or deporting me, given they had no evidence of actual wrong-doing, I was allowed back into the country.

Which I then left again, almost immediately, with DK to get married in Cyprus. When we returned, the border agent seemed inclined to detain me again and questioned me pretty searchingly, but ultimately decided not to make an example of me.

At that point – with 4 days remaining on my work permit – I applied for a spousal visa, at a cost of producing more innumerable proofs of probity and a £465 ‘processing fee.’

Some weeks later, I received a letter commanding me to present myself for biometric enrolment – a condition of evaluating a spousal visa application. As I should have expected given their laughable identity management, the biometric enrolment officers were unable to tell me what would be done with my fingerprints and facial scans should my visa application be refused (again).

Here’s the new part – the shameful, jaw-droppingly incredible part – of the story.

Nothing further took place until mid-November, when I received, out of the blue, an email from the Tier 1 office which said:

Thank you for your letter of 5th June 2009 asking for a reconsideration of the decision to refuse your/your client’s leave application under Tier 1 (General) of the Points Based System.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your letter.

Due to you receiving the incorrect advice from the Immigration Enquiry Bureau I am exceptionally able to accept additional evidence to support your claim for previous earnings and will reassess your Tier 1 (General) application.

This, then, was the response to the pleading letter I’d written to the UKBA five months beforehand; and here it was also coming four months after my case had been reviewed at the special request of my MP and definitely refused by the Deputy Chief Director himself. What, I wondered, is all of this?

I sent along the additional evidence, of course, with a curious question about why the DCD had changed his mind. This was the UKBA’s reply:

Having spoken to Managers and checked our system we are unable to find any record of the MP’s correspondence or your application being reviewed.

Therefore, can you please send me the following documents:-

********** to cover the period stated in my previous email
Your passport
Copy of the MP’s correspondence you received.

Um, what? No record of my MP’s correspondence? So I posted my copies of those letters along, too.

Less than a week later, another email from the UKBA:

I can confirm that we will be overturning our initial refusal decision as I have sufficient evidence to award points for previous earnings.

As soon as I have received your passport I will ensure your leave is endorsed ASAP.

As you Tier 1 (General) application is now a grant what would you like to do regarding your spousal visa application. If you are no longer wishing to continue with the spousal visa application please let me know and I will arrange for the application to be withdrawn and the relevant fee refunded to you.

Result! I get the Tier 1 permit after all (only costing me £820, seven months of stress and anxiety, one job, and to date loss of four months’ earnings) and a refund for the spousal visa application! And yet, what about this correspondence of which there is no record?

The MP’s letter does state that someone has reviewed your application and decided to uphold the initial decision. However, having discussed your case with my Manager and the department who deal with MP’s
correspondence we could find no record of the response you received. It appears that its an administration error in the fact that this letter or the review haven’t been logged on the system. I am currently taking this forward with the relevant department.

Okay, so… neither the letter my MP wrote, nor the review it resulted in, nor the response he received from the DCD were logged into the system. Because of ‘administration error.’

Riiiiiiiight.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s worked out well for me. The visa itself arrived, shiny in my passport, last Friday. (That the visa is now firmly in my sticky paws is the reason I feel able to describe the climax and denouement of this whole sorry business.) But I can’t help suspecting that the complete absence of any kind of record of my MP’s involvement means something vaguely dodgy has gone on.

The MP in question is a well-thought-of guy, clean on expenses, and generally praised as being a model of integrity (as much as a politician can be such a thing). I doubt very much that he fabricated a review that never took place and forged a letter from the Deputy Chief Director of the UK Border Agency. Which leaves me wondering: did the DCD, or his minions, bullshit my MP? Because it mos def looks that way from where I’m sitting. And I’m certainly wondering if I should contact him again and tell him all of this. I imagine he’d like to know.

Especially given what Phil Woolas has been shooting his fucking mouth off about today: £295,000 in bonuses for UKBA senior officials! I wonder if the Deputy Chief Director and his non-existent reviews administration errors will be receiving some of that money.

Mr Woolas told presenter John Humphreys: ”I think the UK Border Agency should be praised – they are very brave men and women who protect our borders and they are getting on top of the situation.

”The chair of the (Home Affairs) Select Committee has said we are not yet fit for purpose and I’m defending my staff who put their lives on the line for us.”

Yeah, okay. Whatever. The UK Border Agency is a clusterfuck of gargantuan proportions and its officials patently couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery. And Phil Woolas is a colossal asshole who should be first against the wall when the revolution comes.

And for the record, I still don’t know what’s happened to my fingerprints and facial scans…

Sep 182009
 

All kinds of bizarre financing going on here, just to keep the airline above water* ‘through the global downturn in air travel.’

With everyone from Al Gore to British doctors insisting that we all reduce our carbon footprint – i.e., no flying for the plebs – and governments slapping green taxes on airfare left, right, and centre, I wonder just when exactly AA thinks passenger traffic is going to pick up again.

Especially when the service they offer is such utter, utter shite.

I myself used to be quite a loyal AA customer, in the grand old days of four years ago, when I could buy a ticket for a service from my local airport direct to Gatwick for $350 (incl. tax). I would fly on a not-obnoxious Boeing 777 and the flight attendants would bring me tomato juice with a friendly smile.

These days, you can’t buy a ticket like that for less than $1200, and the service flies to Heathrow instead. It runs on 747s (shite) with incredibly rude cabin crews who tell you off for getting out of your seat to use the toilet.**

Since the last time I flew on that dismal AA service (July), I have flown on the Virgin Atlantic service from DC to Gatwick (August). I did not mind in the slightest that I was routed through DC, because what I lost in time was made up for by VA, who outshine American like the sun outshines the moon. On the beautiful new Airbus with seat-backs designed to shift down and back rather than recline onto someone’s patellae, the flight attendants encouraged us to walk about the cabin to stretch, plied us with complimentary booze, and provided us not just with pillow and blanket, but also woolly socks, eyemask, and teeth-brushing kit. Need I emphasise that on most other airlines, those are things you only get in business class or better? And I was in economy.

And the whole thing cost me HALF of what I would have paid on American.

Needless to say, I wrote American a letter explaining all of this, and their eventual response was that they hoped to continue to provide me with good service. Ha! They only way I’d fly American again would be if they dropped their fare to $1 (incl. tax). For all those people whose ‘shares in AMR jumped 18% on the back of the news,’ my advice to you is: sell up now, motherfuckers.

*You see what I did thar?

**Mind you, this is still better than Thomas Crook. But then, so’s a bowlful of steaming ordure.

Sep 162009
 

In the last two days, I have been led to believe, by the search terms that lead people to this blog, that the hardest word in the English language to spell is ‘Australian.’ Here are a few of the variations since yesterday:

astralian
austarian
austrlian
autralian

Oddly enough, these orthographically-challenged Googlers all seem to be searching for websites that feature Australian women having sex.

Except for the one visitor who spelled Australian correctly, whose entire search term was perfectly capitalised, punctuated, and somehow managed to convey the author’s sense of incredulousness: “Do Australians really fuck sheep?”

Sep 162009
 

In fan-fiction parlance, the Gary Stu is the male equivalent of a Mary Sue, a fictional character who acts as a place-holder for the wish fulfilment fantasies of the author.

This morning, in a shameful moment of weakness and curiosity (brought on, no doubt, by not having had my coffee yet), I picked up Dan Brown’s new novel, The Lost Symbol, sequel to the magnificently awful The Da Vinci Code. With my evening free because the Devil is reaping souls in Wales, I began to read, and on page 8, came across this piece of hilarity:

‘I hate to embarrass you, Professor,’ the woman said, sounding sheepish, ‘but you are the Robert Langdon who writes books about symbols and religion, aren’t you?’

Langdon hesitated and then nodded.

‘I thought so!’ she said, beaming. ‘My book group read your book about the sacred feminine and the church! What a delicious scandal that one caused! You do enjoy putting the fox in the henhouse!’

Langdon smiled. ‘Scandal wasn’t really my intention.’

If that weren’t enough proof, further down the same page:

Langdon glanced down at his attire. He was wearing his usual charcoal turtleneck, Harris Tweed jacket, khakis, and collegiate cordovan loafers…his standard attire for the classroom, lecture circuit, author photos, and social events.

And so I turn to the author photo of Dan Brown on the back flap of the jacket, and lo and behold – he is wearing a tweed jacket, khakis, and the irritatingly smug grin of a very poor writer who has become very rich indeed. He probably has on loafers, but the picture doesn’t show his feet. Although I suppose it’s entirely possible he’s still got on his gravity boots.

Still – for a book with a retail price of £18.99, WH Smith was very kind to charge me only £5. (And yes, I put down the book, having only reached page 8, to write this blog post. For the curious among you, it has not yet turned out to be a page-turner.)

Sep 042009
 

I was standing at the counter in the chemists’ over the road this afternoon when my eye was drawn to a shiny leaflet displayed there. For a moment, I daydreamed, admiring the design and the pretty colours, the words ‘Brixton Pound’ turning my thoughts to a possible new club or home for rescue dogs.

Then, with an actual, physical start of surprise, I noticed what it was really advertising. The Brixton Pound.

Once I’d paid for my goods, I snatched up a copy of the leaflet and went out to the pavement to read it. Here is what it says:

WHAT?

The B£ is a local currency launching in autumn 2009. It’s a practical way for Brixton residents to support local traders and boost Brixton’s economy.

The B£ will work alongside pounds sterling – but can only be spent with independent local businesses within Brixton. Brixton will be the first urban centre in the UK to have its own currency.

WHY?

Your money goes further:

  • Rewards and special offers for using the B£
  • The B£ keeps circulating within Brixton – local people benefit each time you spend one

Good for the local economy, community and environment:

  • Supports independent shops and local jobs under threat from the recession and larger chain stores
  • Maintains the diversity and character of Brixton
  • Localising trade helps cut carbon from transport

The B£ is secure:

  • Printed on watermarked secure paper
  • Backed by sterling held by Lambeth Savings and Credit Union

WHO?

The B£ is being launched by a group of local volunteers in partnership with:

  • Transition Town Brixton (Community-led vision and action on Climate Change)
  • Lambeth Savings & Credit Union (Lambeth’s financial cooperative)
  • nef (economics as if people and the planet mattered – Lambeth-based economic think-and-do tank)

Please show your support by joining the B£ 1000 club. Membership is free and you will be one of the first 1000 people to use the B£ when they are launched. Visit www.brixtonpound.org to sign up.

Several questions leap to mind.

First, what is the exchange rate between B£ and £ to be?

Second, how exactly is that going to be determined?

Third, most traders in Brixton purchase their goods from outside of Brixton (I would guess). If the B£ is worth less than or as much as the £, how is it going to help them?

Fourth, most residents in Brixton earn their money in £. If the B£ is worth more than the £, how is it going to help them?

Fifth, if the B£ can only be spent within Brixton, the ‘diversity and character’ of what Brixton residents buy is going to shrink. You can’t buy a drink at a pub in Streatham with your B£. You can’t take a bus to Stockwell with your B£. What, in fact, will your B£ buy you? Locally-sourced goods from local traders. Which, in Brixton, is basically drugs. Hello, black market!

I’m not suggesting that alternative currencies are a bad idea in and of themselves; in many circumstances, I would argue, they’re necessary, especially when hyperinflation for example has devalued the official currency. They probably do this in Zimbabwe. But an alternative currency in a location like Brixton, that produces few truly ‘local’ goods and where most of the residents are earning their money outside of Brixton in pounds sterling, is at best pointless, and at worst, damaging to local traders.

I haven’t actually worked through it all in my head yet, however, so I’m willing to be told differently. I just thought it might be interesting for other libertarians to hear about this. Especially Tim Worstall.

Aug 232009
 

I was listening to music on Friday – something I do less often now that it’s school holidays and I’m not walking home from work every day with my iPod glued in my ears – and ‘Diamond Dogs’ happened to pop up on random play.

As you may or may not know, I am a huge David Bowie fan – up to perhaps 1983 – and ‘Diamond Dogs’ has always been one of my favourite Bowie tunes, not least because I find the equation of rock and roll to genocide hugely (and cynically) amusing.

Hearing the song reminded me of a criticism a friend of mine used to make. When one listens to the chorus casually, Bowie appears to sing, ‘Come out of the garden, baby, you’ll catch your death in the fall.’

My friend found this delightful; he loved the apparent reference to the Garden of Eden and the Christian postlapsarian conception of death.

Unfortunately, as someone eventually pointed out to him, that’s not actually what the words are: rather, Bowie says, ‘you’ll catch your death in the fog.’ My friend found this rather more prosaic and uninspired, and when he pointed his mondegreen out to me, I had to agree with him.

What I’m trying to say is, David Bowie missed an allegorical trick there. I guess he’s not quite as brilliant as I thought he was. *sigh*