Friday, 7 August 2009


Sorry for the non-appearance of my blog recently.

My GP changed part of my cardiac medication a couple of weeks ago and it appears to be having an adverse effect whereby it renders me almost comatose for most of the day.

Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

I will continue writing when the issue is resolved.

Thank you.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Farmer Arrested For Being Tooled Up

Do you remember the case of Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer who shot a teenaged intruder dead back in 1999?

Tony was freed from jail in 2003 after serving two thirds of a five-year sentence for the manslaughter of 16 year old Fred Barras.

Mr Martin shot Barras and his fellow burglar 33 year old Brendan Fearon after confronting them when they broke into his home at Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, in August 1999.

Now it is reported that he has been arrested and questioned by police in Cambridgeshire for allegedly possessing an offensive weapon.

Mr Martin, 64, was arrested when police stopped his car and found what was believed to be, wait for it, a farm sickle!

The police are taking no further action but they did give him a fixed penalty notice for not wearing a seatbelt following the incident.

Doesn’t it make you feel that bit safer knowing that the police cells are filled with electricians brandishing screwdrivers and plumbers wielding heavy wrenches?

Oh, how I love sarcasm!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

'Tis Still The Summer Of Our Discontent

As a perfect follow on from yesterday’s blog, in today’s news there is a story highlighting the rapidly declining quality of this summer’s weather.

Organisers of the popular one-day Brecon County Show in mid-Wales have been forced to cancel it for the first time in 254 years because of the weather.

This agricultural show which has an attendance of 10,000 people each year, was due to be staged on Saturday.

The committee held a crisis meeting yesterday after hearing the weather forecast, and unfortunately, after so much rain and with the promise of more to come, including on show day itself, they had no alternative but to cancel the show.

The show society's secretary, Barbara Green said it would lose up to £30,000.

"The marquees are all up, we've taken over 1,000 entries for livestock, dogs, sheep… everything was in place and ready to go," she said.

"We are very, very disappointed and it was a very hard decision to make as we have been planning it for the last year or so. But everyone's been very understanding and we aim to be back next year."

"This is the first time in the show's 254 year history that it's been cancelled because of the weather," Ms Green added. "It was called off once before in 2001 because of the foot-and-mouth disease restrictions. But the show went ahead fine the following year so we hope that will be the case this time."

Do you believe me now? The weather IS going mad!

Consider, this agricultural show has been going since 1755, held in one of the wettest parts of the UK, it has jogged along quite nicely, thank you, in those heady pre-global warming days. Then all of a sudden, Kaboom! This field is waterlogged on the first Saturday in August for the first time in over a quarter of a millennium.

This alleged global warming’s not going to be any good if it can’t even dry out a soggy field so that a few thousand folk can have a day out at a much anticipated show, is it?

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Now 'Tis The Summer Of Our Discontent

Cast your mind back if you will to last April, the very last day to be precise.
Do you recall a prediction for this summer, from the Met Office, with headlines saying something like, ‘Britain’s in for a barbeque summer’?

The Met Office promised that temperatures were likely to be warmer than average across the UK, topping 30C at times and that rainfall should be "near or below average" for the three months of summer.

Chief meteorologist at the Met Office, Ewan McCallum, said "After two disappointingly wet summers the signs are much more promising this year.
We can expect times when temperatures will be above 30C, something we hardly saw at all last year."

Well folks, in case you hadn’t guessed, they have reneged on the deal!

The Met Office is now issuing a revised forecast for more unsettled weather for the rest of the summer.

This is the third summer in a row where the weather in the UK has been damp and coolish, what’s happened to global warming?

The very phrase ‘global warming’ throws a large percentage of the world’s population into a panic, so why not come clean and stop the scare-mongering. Let’s call it by it’s proper name, ‘regional warming’ and get on with our lives.

One thing’s for sure. The heat from south Essex this summer hasn’t contributed to the melting of the ice cap!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Twits At Whitehall Strike Again

There’s no wonder why journalists call this time of the year ‘silly season’, the period in summer when there are no decent news stories worth getting your teeth into.

I’ve been becalmed in an ocean of no-news for a couple of days now, so in sheer desperation I offer you this story!

Hands up all of you that are ‘tweeters‘, that is, do you have an account with the micro-blog site ‘Twitter’?

It appears that anybody who is anyone in HM Government is a ‘tweeter’, so much so that the government has seen fit to compile and distribute a twenty page, 5,382 word strategy paper for its departments on how to use ‘Twitter’.

When ‘Twitter’ subscribers want to make entries into their little tiny blogs they find themselves limited to 140 characters per message. If you are a member of the government you will have at hand this document showing you how the enter these 140 characters in no less than 36,215 characters of instruction!

If, instead of issuing this as a document, the government decided to distribute it using good old ‘Twitter’, it would take getting on for 260 separate ‘Tweets’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that ‘Twitter’ has its uses but why, oh why do they have to create a manual, when the actual meat of the document could be distributed in a two page email.

So there you have it, you now know what the twits are spending your money on!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Swine Flu? Why Not Call A Welder

The Government's National Flu Service website, which is designed to give suspected swine flu sufferers access to anti-viral drugs without pestering their doctor, crashed immediately after being launched yesterday afternoon.

Due to the sheer volume of hits, the site was down for more than two hours. Visitors to the site were greeted with a message which read, "The service is currently very busy and cannot deal with your request at this time. Please try again in a little while."

How authentic is that? Just like phoning a real GP’s surgery on a normal day!

The trouble is, this call centre/chat room is not a real doctors surgery and the person you are consulting is not a real doctor.

If you contact this hot line you are more than likely to be diagnosed by an out of work welder than someone with a medical background. The staff have had only six hours training to do this job.

There are thousands of doctors that have graduated in the past few years that haven’t found a placement, why not draft these in to man the phones and keyboards?

There has already been at least one case of misdiagnosis, where a young woman’s GP, yes GP, not welder, diagnosed swine flu when in fact she was actually suffering from meningitis!

When you add the potential deaths from wrongly diagnosed swine flu to the fatalities in the Afghan War, Gordon Brown suddenly dons the cloak of the Grim Reaper!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

OK. You Can Get Rid Of That Shotgun Now, Pa

How the world has changed! The Church of England is now adopting a buy one, get one free attitude.

Unmarried couples with children will now be able to baptise their children and get married in the same occasion.

Under new guidelines issued by the Church of England, the two sacraments will be allowed to be combined in one service.

Twenty percent of couples taking part in the marriage ceremony already have children and they hope that by combining the two sacraments, the Church will be meeting the needs of real families who might have been discouraged from having a church wedding.

This sounds like the religious equivalent to vote catching to me!

A spokesman denied that the changes meant the Church was contradicting itself on its own teaching that sex should only take place within marriage.

He said that traditional teaching still pointed to celibacy outside of marriage, and that children are best served by being raised by married parents.

Coming from an age when people stopped short of stoning unmarried mothers to death, this seems rather strange to me.

This comes just a few short years after there were news reports that some vicars were refusing to baptise children if they were born outside of wedlock.

If the Church continues to move the goalposts, is there any wonder why attendances are dwindling?

Predictions of Britain becoming a Muslim country by 2050 are now starting to look like a reality!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A Hero's Farewell

A public funeral with military honours will be held for Henry Allingham who died last Saturday aged 113. The funeral will take place at St Nicholas Church in Brighton on 30th July.

Henry, who was born in Clapton, east London in 1896 was the world’s oldest man before he died. He was one of the last surviving servicemen of World War I, the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland and a founder member of the RAF. His life spanned three centuries and six monarchs.

I trust that Sky News will give Mr Allingham’s funeral the same quarter-of-a-day’s coverage accorded to the final farewell of Jade Goody and Michael Jackson!

Why do I come out with these silly statements!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Bristol Car Theft Murder

In Bristol Crown Court yesterday, jurors heard the case of an elderly man from Bristol who died when he was repeatedly run over with his car when he tried to stop a thief from stealing it.

Walter Bollen, 76, appears to have left the keys in his car when he got out to open a gate at his home in Green Close, Horfield.

He was run over when he got into a fight with Scott Couch, 23, who was trying to take the car.

Couch had admitted taking and driving the car but denied murder.

The court heard that Couch had been drinking and was looking for a way to return to his home at Severn beach, about six miles away when he came across Mr Bollen and his unlocked Skoda.

Couch jumped into the driver's seat and Mr Bollen went back to the car to try to drag him out.

The pair struggled and witnesses said Mr Bollen was thrown to the ground, possibly after being hit by the vehicle.
Couch is then alleged to have reversed the vehicle and ran over Mr Bollen twice as he lay on the ground.

Couch then sped off before abandoning the car in a neighbouring street with a flat tyre and damage caused in the incident, the court heard.

Mr Bollen was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post-mortem examination showed that he had suffered crushing injuries to his chest and internal organs and had a fractured skull.

The trial will continue today.

Assuming that Scott Couch is found guilty, I wonder how many hours community service he will receive for this!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Demonstration On How An Ex-Minister Can Turn On A Sixpence.

David Cameron, Leader of the Opposition says that the failure to supply more helicopters to British troops in Afghanistan is "a scandal".

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister says that army chiefs in Afghanistan were satisfied they had the equipment to do the job asked of them and the army was better equipped than ever.

The government insists that the military has never been so well resourced as it is at present.

Chief of Defence Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup says that the deployment of more helicopters to Afghanistan would save soldiers' lives.

John Hutton, who retired as Secretary of State for Defence last month says that the mood among UK troops in Afghanistan is "unequivocal" on the need for more manpower and resources. He also says that ministers have a "fundamental responsibility" to grant military equipment requests.

Whoa! Hutton WAS the minister up to the start of last month. So how come he didn’t acknowledge this fundamental responsibility when he was the top banana?

When a renegade minister starts criticising the Government, phrases like ‘vote catching’ and ‘populist statements’ come to mind!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

New Labour Is Old Hat

In an interview in today’s Daily Telegraph, former Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell, who quit the cabinet during the local and European elections last month, has said he lost faith in Gordon Brown as leader six months ago.

This has prompted the ‘never say die’, government faithful to pop their heads above the parapet.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson, also in the Telegraph, said that Mr Brown is the "best man for the job".

Ex-Defence Secretary John Hutton, this time speaking on the BBC's Straight Talk programme, said Mr Brown had "many, many talents" and it was a "tragedy" voters did not see them.

OK John, tell Gordon to show us these talents and we’ll have a look at them!

Meanwhile, back to Mr Purnell who stated "It's a very different feeling being twelve years into government from the idealism of the start, but we need to recapture that idealism, not by living in the past or by aping New Labour or just sticking to the old tunes.
We need to open up New Labour, reinvent it and then eventually move beyond it."

Try running that one past the traditional flat cap toting, whippet owning voter who, back in 1997 thought that he was voting for the good old red flag waving Labour Party. See what they think about your New Labour now!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Better Late Than Never

From today’s BBC website news pages:

Police e-fit specialists have drawn up the first "realistic" picture of infamous highway man Dick Turpin, 270 years after he was sent to the gallows.

With no surviving drawings or paintings of Turpin, police produced the image using the descriptions issued by the London Gazette newspaper in 1735 and 1737 after the government offered a reward for his capture.

I know the British police are a bit slow of the mark, but this one takes the biscuit!

You can read the full story at Police release Dick Turpin e-fit

Thursday, 16 July 2009


Owing to commitments, there will be no blog today.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The Battle Of Culloden 2009

A story today that is tucked away inside the newspapers, but first a history lesson.

The Battle of Culloden on Culloden Moor near Inverness, Scotland on 16th April 1746, where hundreds of men of Charles Edward Stuart’s Jacobite army were massacred by the Hanoverian army of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. The last battle on British soil, a battle that altered the course of Scottish history. One of those battles where the dead were buried where they fell.

Now, 260 years later, signs are to be erected at the site asking visitors to respect the site as a war grave following a complaint about picnickers.

A member of ‘A Circle of Gentlemen’, a society which recalls the Jacobite cause, said he was furious at the behaviour of some tourists.
Alasdair MacNeill said he saw a family picnicking on top of one of the grave mounds.

Mr MacNeill said he and other members had complained to the National Trust for Scotland.
He said, "A family of four and their two dogs were sprawled across a grave mound having a picnic. The father was leaning against the headstone eating a Scotch egg and smoking a cigarette."

The circle member said he would not expect such behaviour to be acceptable at World War I battlefields such as Flanders or Ypres.
Mr MacNeill said Culloden's fallen were hastily buried in wide, but shallow graves, by British soldiers.
He added, "Many people, especially American tourists, come to Culloden because it is a revered place and to find their relatives."

Mr MacNeill is absolutely correct. This must be a terrible affront to the Scottish nation. I know little about Scottish history but this must be the most important and revered site in the whole of Scotland.

I don’t know if people north of the border understand the word ‘respect’ but it seems to have disappeared from the dictionary in England!

Speaking of which, has anyone noticed that Gordon Brown has never been to RAF Lyneham for the repatriation of any of the Afghanistan War dead?

While the rest of the nation bow their heads in respect, Gordon should be hanging his in shame!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Your Chickens Have Come Home To Roost, Boris.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London receives a salary of £140,000 for carrying out his mayoral duties.

This pales into insignificance when you compare it to the Chief Executive of Kent County Council, Peter Gilroy’s salary of a pound short of £230,000 per annum, so the tax paying burghers of London are getting a good deal for their money.

Getting to the point, Mr Johnson writes a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, for which they pay him £250,000 a year.

This is no second job scandal though, Boris claims that he is a fast writer and he dashes his column off on a Sunday morning. Fair enough, so it’s a lucrative hobby.

The scandal with this is, Mr Johnson dismisses this quarter of a million pound remuneration, rather cavalierly, as ‘chicken feed’.

For God’s sake, how many chickens can one man have?

When half of his electorate are on the bread line, shouldn’t he have chosen his words more carefully?

He does try to salve his conscience by saying “Of course, I make a substantial donation to charity”.

You and I know that donations to charity are offset against income tax, so in the real world this isn’t costing Boris a bean!

Good luck to him and long may he continue writing, but please Boris, try thinking before you speak next time!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Justice At Last?

Just when ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair thought it was safe to stick his head above the parapet!

It is reported today that there are fresh calls for a formal inquest to be held into the death of Government scientist Dr David Kelly.

If you remember, Dr Kelly's body was found six years ago in woods near his Oxfordshire home after he was exposed as the source of a BBC report on the grounds for going to war in Iraq.

Instead of a coroner's inquest, Tony Blair asked Lord Hutton to conduct an inquiry.

The results of that inquiry concluded that Dr Kelly died from blood loss as a result of cutting his wrist with a blunt gardening knife.

A group of campaigning doctors have now produced a report arguing that the Hutton Inquiry's finding of suicide was flawed and have handed it to lawyers preparing a legal challenge.

According to the team of 13 medical specialists, a cut to the ulnar artery was "highly unlikely" to have caused enough bleeding to kill Dr Kelly.
Post mortem reports should be provided to enable their questions to be answered, the doctors added.

One of the authors of the report, retired consultant in orthopaedic and trauma surgery David Halpin, said previous examinations into Dr Kelly's death were "flawed".

Lord Hutton was charged with inquiring into the circumstances surrounding the death and not the cause itself and his inquiry did not have the same legal standards as a coroner's inquest, he said.

"Due process has been subverted," he said. "The group that I am part of is not prepared to let that go. There is evidence of a cover-up."

He said: "He (Dr Kelly) was a very prominent germ and chemical warfare expert. That is relevant because of his knowledge of the biology of death. He had spent ten years at Porton Down (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) and he knew everything about killing things.
So to take what was said to be a blunt knife and what was alleged to be his wife's co-proxamol tablets to try to kill himself is extraordinary. I think it's highly likely he was assassinated."

The report by the group of doctors setting out their rejection of the theory that Dr Kelly died of a haemorrhage will also be sent to Sir John Chilcot's forthcoming inquiry into the Iraq conflict.

Hopefully the Chilcot Inquiry will find that this was an unlawful war, ultimately leading to the indictment of Tony Blair and George W Bush as war criminals.

Ah well! I can dream, can’t I?

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Eight Deaths Too Far

Five more British soldiers have died in Afghanistan, with the deaths of three other soldiers in Helmand, this brings the total to eight killed over 24 hours, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Their deaths take the number of British troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 184 and higher than the 179 killed in Iraq.

This number pales into insignificance compared to the battles of the Somme or Rourkes Drift but that’s not the point, this is a conflict that shouldn’t be taking place.

Do the governments of the troops engaged in Afghanistan honestly believe that it will make a ha’pence worth of difference to the fight against terrorism?

Do they think that the bulk of Taliban, Al Qaeda or any other group of terrorists are stuck in Afghanistan waiting to be wiped out?

Given Britain’s record on immigration, Osama Bin Laden is probably sitting in his council flat in Tottenham, laughing his socks off!

If the coalition killed every living thing there, do they think that this would end international terrorism?

Bombs will still be made in the back-rooms of Bradford, Bromley, Bridlington or wherever.

This is a war against a faceless enemy which, in all probability, will never be completely won.

So, Mr Obama, Mr Brown, in the unlikely event of you reading this, digest my words, cut your losses and bring all of the allied troops home today, and start looking at the enemy within!

Unless, of course, you are scared of the ghost of George W Bush!

Friday, 10 July 2009

The Prisoner Who Thought He Knew His Onions

A sex attacker who absconded during his trial in October 2007 at Kilkenny circuit centre in Ireland, and then later arrested in England, claimed he could not be extradited because he was allergic to onions and would die if he eats them in prison food.

Peter Ivan Dunne claimed that the danger of a reaction, especially to red onions, meant his human rights would be breached if he was sent to an Irish prison because it could not guarantee his meals were free from onions.

Red onions? Are Irish prison cooks that cheffy?

He told two judges at the High Court in London that his experience of Irish prison food proved there was 'a real risk, or near certainty' his dietary needs would be 'routinely ignored'.
This would violate his Article 2 'right to life' under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The judges rejected his appeal against last January's decision to allow the Irish High Court's extradition request.

If they had upheld his appeal, I can well imagine that before sentencing, all convicted prisoners would have to be offered a list of menus for their approval!

At least, I could never be extradited to France, I hate Mayonnaise!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Unhappy Hour

Pubs and clubs in Loughborough, Leicestershire are being urged not to sell cut-price alcohol, as part of a police campaign to discourage bad behaviour.

Local police officer, Sergeant Andy Thornley said "irresponsible" promotions, in which spirits are sold for as little as £1, can cause young people to drink too much and misbehave.

The officer also warned that bars running irresponsible drinks promotion "could face action and penalties".

Sgt Thornley continued, "We are talking to the owners and managers of licensed venues in the town to encourage them to keep their drinks above £1.50."

"Irresponsible drinks promotions, which offer spirits for as little as £1, can encourage young people to drink too much too fast and that often, and can lead to problems later in the evening."

Then comes the moment when the officer discharges a bullet into his foot!

"Loughborough is a great place to spend a night out and enjoys a safe and vibrant night-time economy," he said, "but inevitably there are a minority of people who drink too much and behave badly."

If it’s only a ‘minority of people’, why doesn’t Sgt Thornley and his men get out there and round them up, the job he is paid to do by the good burghers of Loughborough, instead of punishing the majority of people who drink, but don’t behave badly.

What’s next on the agenda? A minority of vegetarians abuse children, let’s make ‘em eat meat, or a minority of Christians commit murder, convert them to Islam?

Why blame everybody else for ineffective policing and the break down of law and order? Surely they don’t expect to get paid for doing nothing, or do they!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Britain's Got No Morals

I can’t believe how deep Britain has got entangled with the death of pop singer, Michael Jackson.

OK, we all knew that this would affect his British fans but why has the British media seen fit to give it wall to wall coverage?

Now comes the final straw. We are sending a twelve year old boy from Swansea, Shaheen Jafargholi, a performer on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, to sing at the Michael Jackson memorial service, to be held today in Los Angeles.

How short is the human memory, sending a twelve year old boy to glorify the life of an alleged paedophile.

For the sake of those of you with amnesia, back in 1993, Michael Jackson paid the Chandler family an out of court settlement of $22 million after allegedly sexually abusing their 11 year old son, Jordan.

I don’t know about you, but to me, if someone coughs up that amount of money, the word ‘allege’ suddenly morphs into ‘acknowledge’.

My thinking is, err on the side of caution and let the tribute go on Shaheen-less, or is Britain too morally bankrupt to care!

Monday, 6 July 2009

School For Scandal

Another case of educational madness, this time in West Sussex.

The parents of a 10 year old boy have called for an urgent review of spending by local authorities after learning that it will cost taxpayers more than £80,000 to send him to school in a taxi.

Daniel Foulds-Holt will have to go to Steyning Grammar School, West Sussex, by taxi, at a cost to the council tax payers of West Sussex of £80 a day for five years, because no buses run to it from his home in the remote hamlet of Edburton, near Henfield.

However, buses do run from outside his front door to his first choice of secondary school, Downlands in Hassocks.

Daniel lost out on Downlands because he lives 350 metres outside its recently amended five-mile catchment area.

This is not a case of parents bleating because one school is better than the other, his parents are happy for him to go to Steyning, what they aren’t happy with is the huge cost involved.

Daniel’s mother, Ros Foulds, a psychologist, said, "It makes no sense at all. It puts my son in a ridiculous position, it's a financial waste and it's environmentally damaging.
He would have preferred to have gone to Downlands but is happy to go to Steyning. It's just how he will get there that's the problem."

She added, "This is about the county council drawing up boundaries without any regard to transport. They would rather stick with their rules, even though they are ridiculous."

Mrs Foulds has submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act to discover how much West Sussex is paying out in taxi fares in total.

Go on, have a guess! £1 million? £1.5 million. You’re not even warm.
The bill for 2008/9 was a staggering £5,588,500!

Although most is spent on children with special needs, £864,615 of last year's outlay was spent on children without such issues.

I don’t for one minute suppose that West Sussex is the only county council with this mentality. They probably use a program similar to a store chain’s internet site ‘store finder’ to work out who's going where.

When I punch my post code into the box on these sites I invariably get directed to their nearest store, three and a half miles away. That’s OK until you realise that the mighty Thames is in between me and the store, leading to a twenty mile drive, passing a couple of closer, local branches of the store en route!

What’s wrong with jiggling the school catchment boundary a tad in these kind of cases, after all, there are no straight lines in nature!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Play The Game

Another example of the world, or the UK to be precise, going mad.

Parents were banned from attending an inter-school sports day at Sandy Upper School in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire last week, to protect pupils from kidnappers and paedophiles.

The kids aged seven and eight competed in the long jump, hurdles, sprint, 400 metres and relay races.

Their parents are, naturally, up in arms at not being able to support the youngsters.

Paul Blunt of the East Bedfordshire School Sports Partnership, which ran the event, said the "ultimate fear" was that a child could be abducted.

He said, “If we let parents into the school they would have been free to roam the grounds. All unsupervised adults must be kept away from children. An unsavoury character could have come in and we just can't put the children in the event or the students at the host school at risk like that.
The ultimate fear is that a child is hurt or abducted, and we must take all measures possible to prevent that.”

Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said it was “totally unreasonable” to ban parents from a sports day.

“It's clearly a serious misjudgement. One of the great pleasures of sports day is that their parents can watch them take part.” he said. “If you followed the thinking of this ban you wouldn't be able to let you child out of the front door.”

Mr Seaton is absolutely correct, after all, do paedophiles and abductors roam in packs on the streets of Biggleswade?

I don’t think so!

It’s possible that more paedos died in Los Angeles on Thursday last week than inhabit this little market town with a population of 15,000 residents!

Friday, 3 July 2009

"Will you, Sandy, take Jules..."

I don’t mean this blog to sound like the rantings of a homophobe, gays, I can take them or leave them, but a story today has got my back up.

Chris Bryant, a former deputy leader of the Commons, now a junior Foreign Office minister has come up with the bright idea that homosexual "weddings" should be celebrated in churches.

When questioned by the magazine Time Out this week on whether he believed civil partnerships, introduced to England and Wales in 2005, should be scrapped in favour of same-sex marriage, Bryant replied, "I would like to see churches be much more open to the idea of gay relationships or partnerships being celebrated in church."

His suggestion goes directly against the rules of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, which state that only the union of a man and a woman can be celebrated by a priest in church.

It turns out that we have been bamboozled for years. The Pope is not God’s representative on Earth, the Labour Party is!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

There's Now't As Queer As Politicians

For some reason, possibly vote catching, Tory leader, David Cameron has apologised on behalf of the Conservative Party for the legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher banning the promotion of homosexuality.

Mr Cameron is referring to Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which states:

"Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material
(1) A local authority shall not—
(a) intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality;
(b) promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship."

Speaking at a joint fundraising event for Gay Pride and the Conservatives, he said that Section 28 had been a “mistake” but that the party had moved on since its introduction in 1988.

“I’m sorry for Section 28.” he said. “We got it wrong. It was an emotional issue. In wanting to make the party representative of the country, I think we have made some real progress.”

What’s wrong with this legislation? Aren’t people capable of choosing their own sexual preference without it being rammed down their throat?

The only flaw in Paragraph (b) of the Act is, it should have continued with “and get on with teaching a decent standard of reading, writing and arithmetic”!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

EU Sees Sense!

Good news for a change. From today, potatoes resembling naughty bits, cucumbers shaped like horseshoes and other misshapen vegetables and fruit will be freely available from a purveyor of greengrocery somewhere near you, after an absence of twenty years.

The European Commission (EC) has abolished its rules that discriminated against imperfect fresh produce.

From today, thirty six types of fruit and vegetables can now be sold whatever their shape, size, lack of sheen or gnarled skin.

The EC’s intention is to lower the price of fresh food and to cut red tape for growers and importers. Retailers estimate that prices for misshapen and blemished produce will be about 40 per cent lower.

The National Farmers Union said in a statement: “Farmers and growers work extremely hard to produce quality food but nature does not always comply with a perfectly rounded sprout and poker-straight carrot.
It is good to hear that people will be given the chance to buy odd-shaped fruit and veg and see they taste just as good. It will help eliminate waste, which has to be good news for consumers and British growers.”

This will certainly be good news to my neighbouring farmer, who has to ’plough in’ 50 per cent of his crops for the sole reason that they don’t meet with EC criteria!

Isn’t it funny how this depression has suddenly made people see sense!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A Black Day For Traditional Dancing

A group of Morris dancers say they are "disappointed and frustrated" after performances were cancelled because they wear traditional black make-up.

The Motley "Border" Morris Men from Dartford in Kent, follow a tradition which originated in the Welsh borders, where faces were blackened using burnt corks.

Chantry Primary School in Gravesend is one of three event organisers which have cancelled perfomances this year.
The school said it had to weigh up any potential offence to its community.

The Motley Morris Men's Squire, Pete Hargreaves, said it was clear from its website, that the dancers wear black make-up.

"It is the third event this year that we have had cancelled," he said.
"We get to the point where everything is set up and then they suddenly realise that we are a black-face Border group.
"They say people might be offended without investigating why we dance with black faces."

Blackened faces are believed to have been used originally as a disguise by Morris men who danced for money and did not want to be recognised.

Head teacher of Chantry Primary, Hazel King, said it apologised for any inconvenience caused to the Morris Men.

"We organised the event to bring a diverse and fragile community together," she said.
"To celebrate all cultures we booked a Morris troupe, having failed to recognise the possible significance for our community of their tradition to perform with blackened faces.
"We found ourselves in a difficult position of weighing up any potential offence versus not wishing to compromise the Morris dancers' tradition."

I know this school, as I happen to have been born and bred in Gravesend. It has a high proportion of Sikh children in its classrooms.

Personally I find this an insult to them, not because the dancers wear black makeup but because the school is implying that these children, including their white schoolmates, can’t differentiate between ‘dressing up’ and real life.

Every year these morris men perform in front of thousands of people at the Rochester Sweeps Festival, organised by Rochester Council. Not one single person has ever complained that these dancers may be racially motivated.

Is it me, or is political correctness absurd?

Now a conundrum for you.

If a black pop singer was contracted to make a fifty date appearance at the O2 Arena in London, lets say in July, would the organisers cancel it if they found out that he performed with a white face?

If they want non-PC they can have non-PC. So sue me!

Monday, 29 June 2009

A Hero Made Of Gold, Not Plastic!

It has been announced that Britain's oldest Olympian Godfrey Rampling, who won medals at the 1932 and 1936 Games in Los Angeles and Berlin, has died at the age of 100.
Godfrey was the father of actress Charlotte Rampling.

A 400m runner, he was a member of the Great Britain 4x400m relay teams which won silver in 1932 and gold in 1936.
In the 1932 Los Angeles Games, he anchored the 4x400m relay team to silver behind the US.

Four years later, in the notorious Berlin Games, he ran a superb second leg alongside team-mates Fred Wolff, Bill Roberts and Arthur Brown to overtake his American rivals and help secure gold for his team.

Godfrey narrowly missed out on individual medals at both Games, but won gold in the 440 yards at the British Empire Games in 1934.

Mr Rampling served 29 years in the Royal Artillery before retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1958.

Will Sky News and the dailies be giving this story 24/7 coverage on a par with an inconsequential pop singer?

Silly me, of course not, we’re not interested in real people!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Trust The Prison Reformers

According to a report by the Prison Reform Trust, the government should stop building prisons and invest in treatment for addicts and effective health and social care.

What an excellent idea! This would go some way to compensate offenders for being unlucky enough to be caught and even unluckier to be sentenced.

My thinking is, reintroduce hard labour and capital punishment, then perhaps the prisons would have fewer ‘customers’, allowing some of the existing prisons to be closed down and demolished.

Job sorted, at no cost to the taxpayer!

Friday, 26 June 2009

The News Is That There Is No News

With the death of Michael Jackson yesterday, all news appears to have stopped.

Judging by the coverage on this morning’s TV, he must have been as famous as Jade Goody!

In an interview, someone, presumably famous, described Jackson as “A great singer.”
Says who? If he was that great, how comes I can’t buy a recording of him singing ‘Nessun Dorma’!

Nuff said.

RIP Mikey.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Wonder Of Woolworths On The Web

Here’s some good news for all of you nostalgic old softies. From 7:00am tomorrow, ‘Woolworth’ will be coming to a computer screen near you!

The Woolworths brand is to begin trading as an online business, six months after the ex-High Street store giant went into administration.

Shop Direct Home Shopping Ltd, part of the Littlewoods group, reportedly paid administrators between £5million and £10million for the brand name.

Within hours of the announcement that the brand was to return online, 20,000 customers were said to have registered. They were then given the opportunity to suggest what they would like the store to sell. It is understood that the good old ‘pic ‘n’ mix’ will definitely be one item that you will be able to add to your shopping basket!

"Families wanted us to bring back Woolies as soon as possible, so that's what we've done," said Shop Direct chief executive, Mark Newton-Jones.
"From acquiring the brand to launching it has only been 20 weeks; something you could never achieve with a High Street business but can do online.
We're aiming to create a fun, family web experience which keeps on getting better and better."

God forbid that this never happens with MFI!

* This is not an endorsement because, like most people, I haven’t seen the site yet, but if you have a need to explore the wonder of Woolworths yourself, you can find it at:

Monday, 22 June 2009

A Publess Village? Unthinkable!

"A chronic shortage of affordable housing" is forcing "unprecedented" numbers of village pubs and shops to close, an alliance of the National Housing Federation (NHF), the British Beer and Pub Association and the Rural Shops Alliance have warned.

They calculate that 650 village pubs and 400 shops will close in the next twelve months.

The reason for this? Wealthy commuters and second-home owners are out-pricing locals, the mainstay of local trade. People whose families were born, lived and died in these villages for hundreds of years can no longer afford to buy homes in them.

National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr said: "If the local pub and shop disappear from a village, it rips the heart out of community life.
"Many villages are now in real danger of losing their unique identity. They are becoming holiday zones preserved for tourists and second home owners, which close down for business in the winter."

The NHF estimates about 100,000 new affordable homes need to be built in England alone to meet demand in rural areas over the next ten years.

That’s all well and good, but who’s to say that there isn’t 100,000 wealthy commuters and wannabe second homers out there waiting for these new homes to be built!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Who's Right Is Right?

Yesterday we saw the first criminal trial without a jury for 400 years. I’ll spare you the details of the case, my concern is that the British equivalent to a Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, is slowly being eroded.

The Magna Carta clearly states (in Latin) that, “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

Even in recent law, the Human Rights Act 1998, Schedule 1, Article 6 states:
(1) In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.

The courts brought Part 7 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 into play in this case. A trial may be held without a jury if there is proof ot concern that there might be some kind of jury knobbling. The Act states:
(6) The following are examples of cases where there may be evidence of a real and present danger that jury tampering would take place—
(a) a case where the trial is a retrial and the jury in the previous trial was discharged because jury tampering had taken place,
(b) a case where jury tampering has taken place in previous criminal proceedings involving the defendant or any of the defendants,
(c) a case where there has been intimidation, or attempted intimidation, of any person who is likely to be a witness in the trial.

All well and good, but are judges above tampering and intimidation?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

From School To Dole In One Easy Step

Yesterday it was announced that unemployment is up to 2.26 million and that youth unemployment surged to its highest level for 15 years.

Official figures show that one third of pupils aged 16 and 17 who have already left school were out of work in the three months to April. The number of young people claiming benefits has soared by 80 per cent to 456,400 in the year to May and this will be added to in the next few weeks when the current school year ends.

This may, in some way, be caused by the current economic downturn, but it may have more to do with the fact that the population is increasing year upon year, workers from EU member states having the right to work here in the UK and people approaching retirement age being urged to stay on at their job because the government is running out of State Retirement Benefit funds.

Even in times of plenty there are only so many jobs to go round, so what chance do these school leavers have?

In the not too distant future, 2.26 million unemployed may equate to almost full employment!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Back To The Future

According to the ’Digital Britain’ report, outlined by Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw in Parliament yesterday, you, me and everyone else face a new "broadband tax" on their landline telephones to pay for super-fast internet to be extended nationwide under new Government plans.

The £6-a-year levy on fixed phone lines would subsidise the cost of installing next-generation broadband networks in areas where they would not otherwise be economically viable.

Every home and business in the UK will have access to at least 2Mbps broadband by 2012 under the plans.

Hold it just there, Mr Brown. What about people like me? I am already on a service receiving 20Mbps which has the option to upgrade to 50Mbps! Will I have to pay this tax?

Many years ago, the then Telewest, now Virgin Media, had the foresight to install fibre optic cables in many areas to supply cable TV, telephone and then a few years ago, highish speed broadband internet.
In all that time, BT have been dragging their heels, claiming that laying fibre optic cables would be too costly.

At 2Mbps this much vaunted, tax funded “super-fast” service will obviously still be using the old, copper cabled telephone lines, a technology well over a hundred years old.

As Robert Fulford said, “I have seen the future and it doesn’t work.”!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

I Reckon Euro Fool, Peter

Peter Mandelson, First Secretary of State, the man who was forced not once, but twice from Tony Blair's government while holding Cabinet positions, has suggested that dropping the pound in favour of the euro remains an “important objective” for Labour.

That's rich coming from a Government that, time after time, has failed to honour its manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on the European treaty.

This latest attempt at political suicide surely wont work because, a. most of the UK’s population want to retain their national identity, and b. do they, the Government, really want to highlight the disparity between UK vs European prices.

Try to dream up something else to justify your existence, Peter!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Buyer Beware

It transpires that the Governments car scrappage scheme, you know the one, trade your old car in, the Government gives you £1000 and the dealer gives you £1000 against a new car, ‘nobody loses, everybody wins, Rodney‘, has turned out to be a loser!

Quote from today’s ‘Times’: “Manufacturers who normally offer loans with interest rates as low as 3.9 per cent are charging customers on the scheme up to 10.4 per cent. Drivers could be better off ignoring the £2,000 grant and obtaining a more competitive finance deal after selling their old car separately, according to a study by Parker’s car price guide.”

For example, selected Seat models are being offered with 0 per cent finance outside the scheme, but if you apply for the grant, 8.5 per cent is what you will be charged.

Manufacturers were unhappy with having to fund half of the scrappage grant, and I for one don’t blame them. They see this as an opportunity to get their money back.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: “Unlike most European scrappage schemes, which are entirely funded by government, the UK scheme demands an industry contribution of £1,000 to match the Government’s own input.
In some cases, where manufacturer profit margins are low, they are not able to offer additional incentives which may still be available on non-scrappage models and this may be reflected in the finance arrangements.”

That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Gordon!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

If Anyone Can, Ann Can

Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP for Maidstone and The Weald, has announced that she is to stand as Speaker of the House of Commons.

Miss Widdecombe said the job "will certainly be an enormous challenge, because we do have to get the reputation of parliament restored in time for the next election. It's not something which can be postponed until afterwards''.

She said that she wanted to "clean up the place".

If anyone can do the job, straight talking, no nonsense Ann can, after all, she was one of the most frugal MPs in the recent expenses scandal!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Portfolio Without Minister

The Whitehall farce just runs and runs, and I don’t just mean the in-fighting and back biting over the last couple of days.

Last week, Mr Brown appointed Glynis Kinnock, wife of ex-Labour leader Neil, as Europe Minister.
OK, so she’s not an MP, but I can live with that, after all Gordon is running out of trusted sidekicks in the House.

Yesterday it emerged that she could not do the job because she was still an MEP!

Under EU Parliament rules, Glynis is not allowed to serve as a minister in a national Government until she steps down as an MEP on July 14.

She is reluctant to quit her job as an MEP as she would have to give up some of her rather generous pension and the golden handshake that goes with it.

What more proof do we need that we are being governed by headless chickens and a Prime Minister with a bullet hole in his foot?

Monday, 8 June 2009

Explain This One

On reading the results of the European elections I was struck by a thought in the form of a riddle, conundrum, enigma, call it what you will.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has come second in the polls behind the Conservatives, beating Labour into third place.

My thought? If UKIP’s slogan is ‘Say No To European Union’, why do they field candidates for election to the European parliament?

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Happy Birthday, Henry

Today, June 6th, the 65th anniversary of D Day, Henry Allingham, Britain’s oldest man celebrates his 113th birthday.

Living in three centuries is no mean achievement. Henry is the first British man in history to have 113 candles on his birthday cake!

Born in 1896, the year that Queen Victoria became England’s longest serving monarch, the first Olympic Games of the modern era were held and Guglielmo Marconi patented wireless telegraphy, what world changes he has seen!

We wish him the happiest of birthdays and look forward to toasting his 114th in twelve months time.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Et Tu Purnell?

Last night, James Purnell, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, stepped down from the cabinet and told Prime Minister Gordon Brown to "stand aside".

With the government crumbling before his very eyes and almost certainly poor, no, make that bad results in today’s elections, poor old Gordon has nowhere to go now, so as a Parthian shot, why doesn’t he teach all of his ministerial toe rags a lesson by going to the Palace and calling for the dissolution of parliament?

He can then sit in his garden on sunny summer mornings, writing his memoirs, while his old “mates” are all out looking for a proper job!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Whitehall Farce

As everybody knows, tomorrow (Thursday) is Election Day.
This time around it won’t be so much an election to vote for your county councillor, more of a referendum on whether Gordon Brown should call a general election.

The government is in so much disarray, the outcome doesn’t need predicting.

The lower house has turned into the real, reality show. Forget next week’s forthcoming new series of ‘Big Brother’, it will be no contest.

So far this week we have had three government ministers falling on their swords. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, Tom Watson, the Cabinet Office minister, (that ones a surprise, he is a close ally of Mr Brown), and Beverley Hughes, the Children’s Minister, are all leaving the Government. We are still waiting for the top scalp in this massacre, Alistair Darling. Surely he must resign!

The Prime Minister is now forced to have a Cabinet reshuffle, but wait, some ministers, including David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, are reluctant to drop their post to take up another.

Four Labour MPs caught up in the expenses scandal, namely Elliot Morley, David Chaytor, Ian Gibson and Margaret Moran were all barred from standing at the next election by the party’s disciplinary panel. Jim Devine has also been referred to the panel over allegations that he submitted receipts from a firm that may not have existed.

To top it all, there’s a rumour going around that senior Labour MPs were urging colleagues to sign a letter declaring that they had no confidence in Mr Brown.

All we need now is sex! Are we only days away from seeing a couple of back benchers copulating on a bench at the back?

Expenses scandal? Tony Blair must be sitting in his £4m mansion laughing up his Armani sleeve!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Britain's Got A Lot To Answer For

There’s not a lot to choose from today, Alistair Darling or Susan Boyle. Miss Boyle hasn’t appeared on ‘Here’s George’ before so it’s got to be her turn.

It is reported today that Susan has been admitted to the Priory Clinic in north London, suffering from exhaustion after she (unexpectedly?) came second in the final of the ITV show ‘Britain‘s Got Talent’.
Apparently, Miss Boyle, who has learning difficulties, threw a wobbly at her London hotel and was interviewed by the police under the Mental Health Act. She then admitted herself to the clinic voluntarily, on the advice of a GP.

I’m not casting aspersions on Susan, she is who she is, my beef is with the production company of the programme.

Susan has a better than average singing voice but there are mezzo soprani in amateur operatic societies up and down the land with far superior voices to hers. I dare say that there were even some women auditioned for the show that had better voices than hers, but they were probably passably pretty.

In my opinion Susan Boyle was selected as a freak show exhibit. I can just imagine it now “She’s plain, dowdy, overweight and not quite the ticket, and she can sing a bit, let’s keep her in and we’ll get a couple of million extra viewers!”

They have probably promised her the earth, a promise they know they could never deliver. Yes she will make a few million quid from a record deal, yes she will be very famous for a few months, but it is all founded on her curiosity value. She has neither the temperament nor the mental stamina to become a superstar so why make her suffer?

Let the poor girl go back to West Lothian, back to being just plain old Susan Boyle, charity worker, before it‘s too late. Forget the recording deals and media coverage, for her own sanity, let her go!

The way she’s heading now she could become the Amy Winehouse of light music!

By the way. One of the boys in the winning dance troupe, ‘Diversity’, that went on to win the show, lives not five miles away from this very keyboard, so good luck to him, and them and well done.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Will The Cowboys Ride Off Into The Sunset?

Last year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders brought in a new voluntary code of practice for garages, aimed at guaranteeing minimum standards of service and protection for customers.

A report today suggests that, to date, only 15 per cent of the UK's estimated 35,000 garages have signed up to this code.

The code requires that all approved garages follow certain rules, including:
  • when they provide a quote or estimate for work, they must offer a breakdown of costs, in writing, including the charges for labour and parts
  • where it becomes clear that further work is needed, the garage must get the permission of the customer before carrying it out
  • garages must not take upfront deposits

Garages on the approved list are subject to a range of sanctions and even termination of membership if they fail to maintain standards.

The watchdog Consumer Focus now warns that unless a greater number agree to abide by the code, it will push for industry-wide laws.

Of course, many garages which have not signed up insist they provide a good service.

Like hell they do!

Being an engineer from way back, I know how long it should take to do these jobs and in the case of non-standard parts, how much the materials are going to cost.

Twenty years ago I had occasion to have a bit of plate welded into the floor pan of an old van. For this job I estimated that it was going to take a fivers worth of material and two hours work. Including overheads, seventy quid would more than cover it.

I went to this particular body shop on the recommendation of a friend, so I didn’t bother to get a quote. It was only a one man band and the workshop was more or less a load of corrugated sheets bolted together.

Three days and £200 later I picked the van up. I didn’t bother to complain because:
a. I didn’t ask for a quote and b. I knew that a bigger firm would have charged me more!

Not everyone in the motor trade is a rip-off merchant though. The guy who used to do the regular maintenance on my car, who had a more salubrious workshop with all the pukka garage equipment, often used to charge me, for a straight forward job of supply and fit, less than I could buy the part for, myself.

To rid the world of the cowboy repairmen, the government should adopt this code and turn it into law.

Who knows, they may even be able to scrap the new scrappage scheme!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Has The Cuckoo Given Us The Bird?

Today‘s story is a sad one. The cuckoo has joined the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) "red list" of the UK's most threatened bird species.

The number of cuckoos has fallen by 37% in the last fifteen years and conservationists can’t put their finger on why this should have happened.

Andy Clements, director of the BTO, said: "A gap all of us will notice is the lack of the cuckoo's familiar song. Their decline is emblematic of downward trends in many long-distance migrants from Africa."

I too have noticed that my ’local’ cuckoo hasn’t returned in the last couple of years, although nothing has changed around here in that time (unless repainting the kitchen counts).

Cuckoos are known to lay their eggs in the nest of the dunnock, which are also in decline, although hereabouts they seem to be on the increase. As I write this, Mrs Dunnock is feeding her babies beneath my garden table.

Obviously something must have changed between North Africa and Essex, something that has upset the balance of nature. If the cause can be pinpointed then something may be able to be done by conservationists to redress the problem.

Until then, if our local cuckoo is reading this, come home, we miss you!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Here's One Party That You'd Want To Poop

Watching the party election broadcast by the British National Party (BNP) on TV yesterday evening I said to the Duchess “ Someone’s going to send in a complaint about this.”
“Why’s that?” she replied.
“Well,” I said, “they are using the war dead to promote their policies!”

It transpired that there was a complaint and quite a high profile one at that.
Nicholas Soames MP, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill complained about the use of his grandfather’s image being used in the broadcast.

BNP deputy chairman Simon Darby said: "It is extremely relevant to what is happening today."

BNP party chairman Nick Griffin is adopting part of Winnies's "blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech to promote its manifesto for the European Parliament.

Mr Soames said he had tried to get the Electoral Commission to ban the appropriation of his grandfather's image.
"They should not take my grandfather's name in vain. He would have been appalled by their views and the way they claim to represent the wartime generation. It's nonsense. Were it possible to take action, we would. We find it offensive and disgusting." he said.

Mr Darby said there was a substantial amount of Churchillian rhetoric in the broadcast.
"It is very relevant to what is happening today," he said. "I am extremely upset at what is happening to the country. What was the point of fighting the Second World War if this is where we are going to end up?"

This is a bit of a ’U’ turn on the BNP’s behalf.

In ‘The Rune’ magazine published in 1995, edited by a certain Nick Griffin, an article praising the exploits of Hitler’s SS during the Second World War.

The article contained sentences like, "The tales of Waffen SS courage and sacrifices are almost limitless." and "In an unbiased assessment of war crimes, however, the Waffen SS were undoubtedly no worse than the troops of other nations, countless Allied war crimes are simply not publicised."

In 1996, Nick Griffin picketed Coventry Cathedral where he handed out leaflets that referred to the "mass murder" by RAF pilots during the Allied bombing of Dresden.

With North Korea flexing its military muscle, do we need a man like this leading our country?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

I Will Survive

The following quote comes from today’s BBC News website.

Almost two thirds of over 50s fear they may have to work longer than planned as their savings and pensions have been hit by the recession, a study claims.
The joint report by the Help the Aged and Age Concern charity found that 60% of 943 respondents said they may need to delay their retirement.

This, and reports like it, suggests that once people retire, they have to go dustbin raking to survive. The truth of the matter is that they just don’t want to make adjustments to their lifestyle, or to put it another way, they want to live in the style that they have become accustomed to.

This is not the voice of cynical youth speaking. The duchess and I have been retired for a couple of years now and we have never really gone without.

Without the backing of a private pension or personal savings we manage very comfortably, entirely on state pension. This may have a lot to do with never wanting to go on holidays or not hankering after a 42 inch LCD TV, but we do more than just survive.

It’s a mindset thing before you retire, don’t expect too much and you wont be disappointed!

So to all of the materialists approaching retirement age, retire gracefully, tighten your belts just one notch and free up your jobs for the young!

Monday, 25 May 2009

There is a happy land, far, far away, somewhere

As it’s Bank Holiday Monday today, here’s just a quick thought.

The government is urging graduates to consider a spell working abroad, whether in internships or volunteering, to avoid the worst of the recession.

Are the government going to let everybody know exactly where abroad this recession free Utopia is, so that we can all move there?

Saturday, 23 May 2009

The Pen Really Is Mightier Than The sword

The man who, in effect brought one of the world’s oldest parliamentary systems to its knees by arranging for leaked MPs' expenses details to be given to the Daily Telegraph has been named.

John Wick, a former SAS man, acted as a broker, passing the details from an anonymous source to the newspaper, a working demonstration of the pen being mightier than the sword.

On paper, most of these MPs have done nothing wrong, it’s the system that is wrong.

My local MP in Essex, for example, is as far as I know, squeaky clean compared to most of the others, his claims are within the spirit of what the expenses were intended for, but what he is allowed still appears to be wrong.

He lives in Surrey, around a 45 minute train journey from London or a 45 minute drive by car to his constituency.
He claims for a flat in his constituency, which is a 25 minute train journey from London and he also claims for a flat near Westminster.

It would appear to me that the average working man would find these travelling times to and from work every day a bit of a doddle, so why can’t MPs who live within striking distance of London commute like everyone else has to?

Hopefully, when the dust has cleared and the expenses have been overhauled, we will get right honourable ladies and gentlemen sitting in Parliament who are there because they want to represent us and not what they can get out of it.

Mr Wick, we salute you!

Friday, 22 May 2009

It's Good News Day

After a couple of weeks of government sleaze stories it’s nice to read good news for a change.

After a ‘U’ turn by the government, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that Gurkhas who retired before 1997 can settle in the UK with their immediate families.

What I found strange was Ms Smith saying that she was "proud to offer this country's welcome to all who have served in the brigade of Gurkhas". Why was she proud yesterday, but didn’t give a toss when this was discussed a few weeks ago?

I don’t know if this decision was prompted by people power or by government spin, trying to catch a few votes!

Whatever the reason, justice has prevailed.

In another story, the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), who have been running the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme since 1988, have found that the number of dormice fell by 9% between 2002 and 2008, compared with 31% from 1992 to 2002.

PTES said there was "reason to be optimistic" that conservation efforts were proving effective.

Jim Jones of the PTES, said: "While the slowdown in the decline is very encouraging, the species is still in decline, so conservation and monitoring efforts remain a priority if dormice are not to disappear from the British countryside."

There have been 16 successful reintroductions of more than 600 dormice in the past 16 years.

One small step for conservation, one giant leap for dormice!

And finally, two years ago to this very day, everyone thought that the 140 year old tea clipper, ‘Cutty Sark’ had gone forever when fire ravaged through the ship’s three decks at it’s berth in Greenwich, south east London.

With much dedication, skill and millions of pounds it is announced that this national treasure will be reopened to the public next year.

When the restoration is complete, the ship will have more than 90% of her original features, which is an achievement worth applauding.

I, for one, will be pleased to see this Phoenix arise from the ashes!

After this little round up of the brighter side of life, I can truly say, dear reader, ‘Have a nice day’!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Review Of Today's Oldspapers

With the dearth of decent news stories in the last few days, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as NEWS. Almost every news story is just a recycled OLDS story.

Michael Martin, first Commons Speaker to be forced out of office for 300 years, that’s obviously been done before, as has the House of Lords suspending two Labour peers for misconduct, the first such move for more than 350 years.

Test pilot, Timothy Peake is to become an astronaut. Scores of people have done this job since Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin first orbited the Earth in 1961.

Gordon Brown has defended the Chancellors decision to rise the top rate of income tax. Which PM has never done this?

‘Chihuahua invents the world’s smallest microprocessor’ or ‘UK Border Agency arrest three Martians’, now they would be news stories worth reading!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

England's Green And Pleasant Allotment

I’m a meat eater myself but I have nothing against veggies, vegans and miscellaneous tree-huggers or anyone else that wants to eat healthily. Each to his own I say.

Now here’s the ‘but’!

A study by the University of Reading suggests that if everyone adhered to the government’s promotion of ‘five-a-day’, (fruit and veg that is, not Woodbines), and eat less red meat, it would change the face of Britain forever.

The UK would need 100,000 hectares (386 square miles) of polytunnels to meet the demand for fruit alone.

Demand for red meat would drop by 20% and dairy products by 40%.
This would mean 1.5m fewer head of livestock, leaving the upland hills, favoured by walkers and tourists, un-grazed.
Land would become covered in scrub and gorse, and if left alone would become inaccessible to visitors.

Professor Bruce Traill of Reading University, said: "Undoubtedly the UK government has a duty to promote the health of the population and within this research project we have been looking at the most effective ways of doing that, whether by fiscal measures, social marketing, or by trying to enhance the nutritional qualities of the foods that people eat.
There is potential in all of these approaches, if they are targeted effectively. But we do also have to consider the potential unintended consequences of policies.
For rural communities, such as the dairying industry of South-West England and upland areas of the UK these could be far-reaching and need to be taken into account."

The report also says that increased production of fruit and vegetables in the East and South East of England would be unlikely to bring more employment.
Because of the scope for machinery to be used for many of the required horticultural operations leading to a minimal need for labour, farmers would probably rely on casual workers.

All of these crops need to be irrigated so there would be a heavy demand on the water supply.

So to sum up. The government want you to live healthier and longer, they can’t afford to pay old age pensions now, so what happens when we are turned into a nation of herbivores and everyone adds a couple of extra years to their lifespan?

Will the government be content knowing that they have had to sacrifice this green and pleasant land to achieve it?

Of course it will, after all, the Department of Health’s statistics will look good, wont they?

I‘m off to have my breakfast now, I’ll have a couple of extra rashers please, Ma!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Babes And Sucklings

Cast your minds back to last February. Do you remember the headlines that went something like ‘Dad at 13’.

Alfie Patten, aged thirteen claimed that he had fathered the child of Chantelle Stedman, aged fifteen.

At the risk of sounding like Jeremy Kyle, a DNA test has proved that Alfie is not the father.

Alfie is said to be ‘gutted’ at not being Maisie Roxanne‘s dad.

Why? Because he has lost the kudos of being ‘a bit of a lad’ with his mates or is because he was hoping for a council flat along with benefits from the DWP?

Just be thankful for your fifteen minutes of fame son, and get on with your homework!

The real father? You’ll all be relieved to learn that he is a man of more mature years, Tyler Barker, aged fifteen!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Making Sure That The Coast Is Clear

Great Britain has a great naval tradition stretching back to Alfred the Great. The navy has defended the country in times of need, smashing the Spanish Armada and Napoleon’s Frenchies. It is the home of the world’s greatest naval hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Britannia once ruled the waves.

Now, the Commons defence committee has warned that Britain is vulnerable to terrorist attack from the sea because no single body is responsible for protecting its 7000 miles of coastline. Just nine Royal Navy ships, six warships, two patrol vessels and a support tanker patrol the British shoreline.

The defence committee suggests developing a "deterrent capability" to ward off sea-borne attacks.

The Ministry of Defence has parried with an insistence that ‘clear procedures are in place’.

The defence committee’s statement said: "We are concerned at the level of action being taken to address threats to aspects of national infrastructure such as ports.
What assets are available for maritime security tend to be reactive forces."

The statement continued: "There is a strong case for developing a deterrent capability in relation to threats to civilian maritime targets.
We are not satisfied that an intelligence-led approach is sufficient."

The Commons defence committee are absolutely correct. The British armed forces were formed to protect the people of Britain, not to fight the enemy of every other nation.

Perhaps Captain Mainwaring and a troop of Sea Scouts could do a better job of it!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Boom Time In The Marshes Of Kent

Some good new for a change, well good if you’re like me.

Being a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), imagine my delight when I read this morning that a rare bird is attempting to breed at a reserve in my home county of Kent for the first time in more than 100 years.

It is the first time the booming mating call of the bittern has been recorded at the Dungeness RSPB reserve.

The Dungeness reserve, opened in 1905, making it the RSPB’s oldest, has been improving and expanding the reedbeds since 2002 thanks to a EU grant of £160,000, and it finally looks like it’s going to be payback time for their dedicated work.

Bob Gomes, site manager at RSPB Dungeness, said it was very satisfying to have a bittern, one of the UK's most threatened birds, staying to breed.
He said, "We've been working flat out to create suitable reedbeds on site. In recent years, we were rewarded by more bitterns wintering here, but they always left for Europe to breed."

For the uninitiated, the bittern, a heron like bird, is around 30” (75cm) tall and is specially protected.

The only downside of this story is, when these little Dungeness chicks reach adulthood they will each be designated a ‘Man of Kent’ and not a ‘Kentish Man’, like yours truly!

Friday, 15 May 2009

No News Is Good News

Today I have the choice of commenting on MPs expenses, Katie and Peter's break up, or nothing.

No contest!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Band Ban Banned

Another piece of useless legislation looks set to bite the dust.

Because of the Governments failure to control gun crime back in 2003, it did the next best thing, smother the public’s rights. The Licensing Law 2003, introduced in 2005, has made it nigh on impossible to promote regulated entertainment in pubs and clubs.

It’s even worse in London where as an addition, a promoter has to submit ‘Form 696’ in which the Metropolitan Police not only want to know details of the promoter and premises, but the target audience as well. The deal breaker must be the section where the promoter has to fill in the real name, stage name, date of birth, contact telephone number and address of each and every performer. Quite a Herculean task if a Russian symphony orchestra is about to perform at the local working mans club!

The Culture Media and Sport select committee have expressed "concern at the linkage of live music and public order issues" and music should not automatically be treated as a "disruptive activity, which will inevitably lead to nuisance and disorder."

The chairman of the committee, John Whittingdale MP said, "We were particularly concerned to hear of the way the Act may be hampering live music performances especially by young musicians, who often get their first break though performing live at small venues such as pubs."

On Form 696, the committee said it imposes "unreasonable conditions on events" and "goes beyond the Act". It has recommended that the form should be scrapped.

The Licensing Law 2003 and Form 696 were introduced in an attempt to reduce gun crime in pubs and clubs with entertainment.

I don’t know about bands, but I have seen a few pub comedians that needed shooting!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

They Couldn't Organise A P!$$ Up In A Brewery

This could be an interesting one.
Plans to build what could be the world's largest offshore wind farm, the London Array, in the Thames Estuary are to go ahead.

The plans include 341 turbines being built on a 90 square mile site 12 miles from the Kent and Essex coasts.

OK so far?

Meanwhile, a few short miles up the estuary, DP World, a Bahraini enterprise is just about to commence building what will be the largest container port in the UK, and one of the biggest in the world. When it is completed hundreds of gigantic container ships will be going in and out every year, presumably passing through the London Array.


Well planned lads!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Art Imitates Life

I caught part of the TV police drama ‘The Bill’ a couple of weeks ago. The plot involved a policeman prowling the corridors of a secondary school. It contained scenes of him sitting in his in-school office, a room set up specially for the police somewhere within the school.

“It’s no wonder we don’t usually watch this,” said I to the wife, “when they have farfetched storylines like this one!”

All I can say is, sorry ITV, I got that one wrong!

A survey has suggested that almost half of secondary schools in England have a dedicated police officer. There are more than 5,000 schools in Safer School Partnerships with the police, including 20% of primary schools. They are placed there to ‘tackle bad behaviour, cut truancy and build a relationship between youngsters and the police.’

When I was at secondary school, over fifty years ago, the ultimate deterrent was either the cane or a home visit from the ‘school board man’.

Parents were the ones that taught their progeny right from wrong, the police were there to prevent crime.

Now it seems that the overworked police force (via the council tax payer) has been saddled with both jobs!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Expenses At Your Expense

MP’s expenses! I won’t go into the background because more column inches devoted to this story are being added to the newspapers by the minute.

I just want to point out life at the other end of the spectrum.
I’m chairman of a Local Access Forum (LAF). LAFs were set up early in the decade by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, under the umbrella of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to oversee the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, making sure that highway authorities, National Parks etc apply it correctly.

The only expenses that I am allowed are for travelling to and fro meetings or on-site inspections. No second home in Mayfair, not even a Kit Kat or a buckshee bag of compost.

When I put my claim in I always put the distance I have travelled down correct to the nearest inch, never adding a mile here or a few hundred yards there, and then multiply it by the 40p, yes four zero pence, per mile I’m allowed for the use of my car. I then have to fight tooth and nail to get it! A little while ago I submitted a form for reimbursement of two years worth of expenses, around £80. It took over four months to get it paid.

I’m not against MPs receiving expenses, but to abuse a system that is already generous to them certainly doesn’t make them look like the trustworthy candidates that canvassed your vote at the last election.

The question that should never have been asked is, do MPs seek election to represent their constituents, or are they only in it for the money?

I don’t think that the jury will be out long on this one!

Saturday, 9 May 2009


Since my post yesterday, a soldier from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, another from 173 Provost Company, 3rd Regiment, Royal Military Police and one from 2nd Battalion The Rifles have been killed in Afghanistan.

This brings the total of operational fatalities to 157.
May they rest in peace.

Isn’t there one MP that is brave enough to force a vote on the withdrawal of British troops from this conflict? There must be one man, or woman in the House, with as much guts as these soldiers!

All I can say is, if you see Mr Brown, tell him I want a word with him!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Unidentified Enemy

A soldier from the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion in the Royal Regiment of Scotland has been killed in southern Afghanistan, bringing the total number of UK troops killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 154.

This is a drop in the ocean compared with something like the Battle of the Somme, but it is still 154 deaths too many!

Why are they there? They are there to satisfy the paranoia of an American madman and his egocentric British sidekick, neither of whom are now in power.

According to Bush, the purpose of the invasion was to capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al Queda, and remove the Taliban regime which provided support and safe harbour to al Qaeda.
Bush’s policy was, that it would not distinguish between al Queda and nations that harboured them. Blair nodded in agreement.

Where does that leave Britain? Allegedly, there are al Queda cells working within this country, and who knows, given the track record of local authorities, Osama himself could well be living in a council house in Islington and drawing state benefits!

This is a war that can never be won, ask the Russians.

Mr Brown, bring our troops home, NOW!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Paper (No Make That Electronic) Tiger

Rupert Murdoch’s company, News Corporation, is planning to charge a fee for access to their newspaper websites.

This means that you will have to pay to read the dailies such as the Times and the Sun and Sunday newspapers, the News of the World and the Sunday Times online.

This is prompted by soaring online subscription revenues at the Wall Street Journal and the fact that News Corp’s quarterly operating profits crashed by 47% to a meagre $755,000,000.
Ah bless, you can’t even get a decent meal for that nowadays, can you?

Has he contemplated the fact that there is a recession, and one of the first things to go is forking out for a newspaper every day?

Does Mr Murdoch and his team think that electronic newspapers share brand loyalty with the printed version?

Wake up Rupert, mate. This is the 21st century. If you start charging, readers will simply click on to the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Star and then, bang goes the advertising revenue from your websites!

Don’t forget, nearly every television company in the world have sites with news pages, some, even, with videos of the stories, and they don't charge to view them.

Remember what the Duke of Wellington said, “Publish and be damned”!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Flogging A Willing Horse

According to a report by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, to bring public debt under control in the next ten years, the Government will have to raise the state pension age to 70, or raise the basic rate of Income Tax by 15p in the pound, or cut government spending by 10%, sending education, the NHS etc to the wall!

Why didn’t the Government put this money into their piggy bank instead of committing British troops, and billions of pounds, on the invasion of Iraq, and spending money like a sailor on shore leave, bailing out greedy banks?

I’ve heard of people working past retirement age to pay off their own debts, but this is the first time that I’ve ever heard of anyone doing it to pay for someone else’s mismanagement of money!

Daft I call it!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Parent power

The Government are outlining plans today for a shake up in education whereby parents in England could get the power to force councils to improve the quality of their local schools.

Parents would be able to demand action at a school in their area, even if their children were not pupils. From what I understand, this would by-pass an OFSTED inspectors enquiry and Government intervention.

It would give parents of primary school pupils the right to complain about a secondary school that their children may be attending in the future. The local authority would have to take these complaints on-board and make every possible effort to raise the school standards. This includes replacing the head teacher, if the authority deems it necessary.

This is all well and good, but to me it seems like the Government has run up the white flag on education.

If the Government has washed its hands of the most basic element of a civilised society, education, then it has washed its hands of the country.

Do you want the country to be governed by a rabble that has turned its back on the future?
No? Nor do I!

Monday, 4 May 2009

The Pandemic That ’Flu Out Of the Window

Some pandemic this is turning out to be. After the World Health Organisation (WHO) put the fear of God up the whole of Earth’s population just a few short days ago, we are now seeing headlines saying “Swine ’flu in decline in Mexico” and “UK swine ’flu is being contained”.

Scientists have said that it is a mild strain of the ’flu virus, at the time of writing, after Mexico has adjusted its figures, only seventeen people worldwide are known to have died after contracting it. Compare this with the quarter to half a million deaths across the world each year from your common or garden ’flu and it starts paling into insignificance!

Because of an almost daily morning smog at the seat of the outbreak, Mexico City, there are over half a million respiratory cases reported, anyway.

I know that the WHO has to look after the interests of the world’s wellbeing, but wasn’t this a knee jerk reaction on their part?

I only hope that I don’t have to eat my words!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Flight Of Fancy

They’ve upped the ante on yesterdays Home Office taxi story. Now the Government are looking to rent a private jet for a couple of years, for the use of Foreign Secretary, David Milliband.

Ministerial code dictates that scheduled flights should be used, unless deemed impractical. So, apparently, all scheduled flights must be impractical, (and less glamorous?) if he has to have a private jet to take him everywhere.

In 2008, Mr Milliband made more than twenty state trips, Why? Are other countries interested in what he has got to say? Have they even ever heard of him? Possibly the answer to these questions is a resounding NO!

I dare say he could do his job just as well as they did in the ‘old days’, by telephone, but then again, he wouldn’t get a free, all expenses paid holiday every fortnight, would he!

Saturday, 2 May 2009


Here’s a story that has managed to keep a low profile this week. The Home Office has spent almost £2,000,000 on taxis and hire cars in the past year.

The bill for taxis was £1,045,671, (excluding tips, I’m assuming), and hire cars cost £917,908.

They are costing the taxpayer thirty three times more for riding in style than they did when Labour came to power in 1997!

So who’s burning all of this rubber? I have a friend who works for the UK Borders Agency, he doesn’t get afforded the luxury of a taxi, even though he has to work awkward hours. Another friend works for Customs and Revenue, he has to use his own means of transport.

My guess is that no non-executive workers who are employed by the Home Office get a free ride in a cab, so who does?

Does Jacqui Smith’s husband call a buckshee cab to pick up his tacky videos? Does the top brass hail a taxi outside of their Whitehall office on Friday afternoon to take them to their weekend retreats down in Cornwall?

We are in a recession so shouldn’t they be leading by example? Surely there is a tube/bus/train that could take them to their destinations!

As Norman Tebbit once said, “Get on your bike!”

Friday, 1 May 2009

Even The Blind Can See

Former Home Secretary, David Blunkett, may be blind, but he can see the Labour Government’s future.

He has told the Guardian newspaper, "Labour has lost its political antennae and needs to get them back. We have no underlying domestic social policy. There is a void at present."
"We have got to get back to old-fashioned politics that's in touch with people we seek to represent and avoid self-inflicted wounds."

So, Mr Brown has left us up the creek without a paddle? Well, no, actually. The poor guy is just the scapegoat.

Tony Blair has to take the blame for all of this. Wasn’t he the one who hoisted the New Labour flag up the mast, back in 1997? He was the one who turned his back on the day to day running of Great Britain. In the ten years of his premiership, what great social reforms did he bring to the country? What was his equivalent to Aneurin Bevan’s National Health Service?

On being elected, he had his eye on the main chance. He wasn’t concerned with being the PM of a tiny island stuck out in the Atlantic Ocean, he wanted to be seen as a world leader. To make himself look powerful, he wooed, no, make that sucked up to, George W Bush, and sent British troops on an unlawful invasion of a country that was no threat to the UK, or the world for that matter!

What he really wanted to be, and still does by all accounts, was the first President of the United States of Europe. In his pursuit of self interest, he let the UK and the Parliamentary Labour Party run itself into the ground, now poor old Gordon is picking up the tab!

Sorry Mr Brown, but you have passed the point of no return. Go to the country now!

As a footnote to this, 10,000 people have signed a petition on the Downing Street website calling for the Prime Minister to resign. That says it all!

Thursday, 30 April 2009

The End Is Nigh!

Poor old Gordon Brown. He must be wondering today if even his wife and kids love him.

What a week for him! His Chancellor was caught out lying about the speed of economic recovery, less than two days after his Budget. To keep face with his party, he had to do a temporary U turn on MPs second homes, and now, probably the worst moment of his career, the one that even the political commentators didn't see coming, he has suffered his first defeat in a Commons vote.

When Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg called for a motion to offer all Gurkhas equal right of residence in the UK, the Government were expected to win, if only by the skin of their teeth. But lose they did, the motion being carried by 267 votes to 246, with 27 labour rebel backbenchers voting in favour of it, even though Mr Brown tried to do a deal with them. This in effect means that Mr Brown was defeated by his own party!

This was the first time that a government had lost an opposition day debate since Jim Callaghan in January 1978, and fourteen months later he was forced to call an election.

Mr Clegg must have been feeling smug, it was the Lib Dems biggest Commons victory in their twenty one year history.

As soon as the result was announced there were shouts of “resign!”. Perhaps this should have been offered as a motion as well!

This was one battle the Gurkhas weren’t expecting to win, but in the end, justice prevailed.
It’s not cut and dried yet but I’m sure it wouldn’t be presumptious to open the champagne bottle.

Even if Mr Brown reneges on this one, the Gurkhas have kick started the beginning of the end of New Labour, and I for one salute them for that!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Read All About It

English literature GCSE is not being taken by almost one in four teenage pupils, according to figures published by the Conservative Party.

Why would that be, are they too idle to read, or is it the fact that they cannot read?

Conservative schools spokesman, Michael Gove said, "An understanding and knowledge of English literature is something we would all consider an essential part of education to GCSE level for all pupils. It is therefore shocking that the subject is in decline to the extent that more than one in four pupils does not even sit it at GCSE."

The Government's Schools Minister, Jim Knight countered with, "Michael Gove is talking nonsense. Both the English and English literature GCSEs include Shakespeare and other great works of English literature so it's wrong to say that pupils are not reading the classics.
Last year 96% of pupils sat an exam that included English literature and more young people are achieving the higher grades in English each year."

What Mr Gove is saying is, that pupils should read and understand the complete book, what Mr Knight is saying is, that they just read extracts from the book, and that’s just fine by him!

Which of these right honourable gentlemen would you prefer to oversee your child’s education? You decide!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Gurkha Justice Rally

It’s Gordon Browns lucky day today. I’m letting him off the hook on his U turn on scrapping MPs second home allowance. They can carry on renting their tacky DVDs and installing their £10,000 kitchens at our expense, for the time being.

Today I’m going to be serious.

When I opened my emails this morning there was one from Miss Joanna Lumley.

She has informed me that Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, has agreed to put a vote to Parliament tomorrow, Wednesday 29th April, calling for a fair deal for Gurkhas. This alone won’t change last weeks ruling but it will show the Government that they need to have a re-think.

To coincide with this vote tomorrow, there is to be a Gurkha Justice rally and protest against the Government's decision, starting at noon in Old Palace Yard, Westminster. Joanna has apologised for the short notice and asked that anyone reading this, and has the time tomorrow, to join her there to show your support.

As a final note, Joanna spoke yesterday to Lieutenant Madan Kumar Gurung, who has been at the forefront of the campaign since it began. He told her that he has no fear for the Gurkhas any more, as he knows the loving hearts of the British people will not let them down.

Prove him right, be there tomorrow!

Monday, 27 April 2009

We Know What You’re Doing!

There is a dearth of news in the UK today, I mean news that I find a tad incongruous, so come with me to Switzerland.

This must be the ultimate case of big brother or is that grand frère or perhaps even große bruder is watching you.

It appears that a Swiss woman was sacked from her job at Nationale Suisse after claiming that she couldn’t use a computer, and had to lie in a darkened room because she was suffering from a migraine. Whilst she was at home, suffering, the company noticed that she was using Facebook. This apparently destroyed their faith in her, so they had no alternative but to sack her.

How did they notice?

Well the lady claims that the company had created a Facebook account using a fictitious name, then the lady, for some reason only known to herself, became ‘friends’ with Mr, or was it Miss X. The company was then able to track her Facebook activities.

After she was fired, the ‘friend’ disappeared from her Facebook. Some friend that was!

So take that as a warning. The next time you shop on-line for a plasma screen TV, make sure that it’s not bigger than your gaffer’s, he may just think that he is overpaying you!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

What's in a Name?

It’s Tory Spring Conference time down in sleepy Cheltenham. The Conservative education spokesman, Michael Gove, has come up with a cunning plan, he wants to create primary academies.

I think that what he means is, he wants primary schools to become autonomous by taken them away from council control and letting them set their own curriculum and hours of attendance.

It’s not for me to say whether this is a good or a bad thing, what I’m objecting to is the way politicians are hijacking the language to suit their own means. If there is an obscure meaning to a word settled right at the bottom of an entry in the OED you can bet your life that they will use it for their own ends.

I mean, academy, that’s never a primary school. An academy is a seat of higher learning, a place where they read Plato and Socrates, not 'Jane and John' first reader books! Academia is a university or a group of students from a university, not a collection of Portakabins on a council estate. An academic is a researcher or even a professor at a university, not Miss Smith who teaches finger painting.

A failing secondary school in my area was re-branded an academy a couple of years ago. It’s still a failing secondary school!

A newly built secondary school in my area is called So and So Campus (the name has been changed to protect the innocent). Campus sounds as cool as academy, but did the person who christened it know that a campus is the word for the grounds and buildings of a university, and not a level of education?

So get wise all of you politicians, Shakespeare’s Juliet was lying when she said, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Forgotten Army

Is the British Government deliberately courting controversy? Do they know that they have lost the next election, even though it is months before the nomination papers are submitted?

Yesterday they were proved to be inept, or should that be lying, with their calculations on the speed of the economic recovery, and then another bombshell!

They let down, snubbed, call it what you will, the Gurkhas, or to be precise, the entire British armed forces.

The message that the Home Office sent out was, ‘Thanks for serving the Country pal, but now that you have been demobbed, you’re on your own.’

How can a person, for all intents and purposes, be treated as if he were British for fifteen years, and then overnight, as soon as he has been served his demob papers, become an alien?

The Government’s argument is that, if we let the ex-Gurkhas stay in the country, by the time they are joined here by their families, Britain’s population will swell by 100,000.

So what? If the Gurkhas weren’t available to fight for us in the Pacific in WWII, leaving the Allied troops to concentrate on Europe, our population may well have swelled by 82,000,000, all of them German.

The Government’s cop out is that a Gurkha who was demobbed before 1997 can stay if he can meet one of the following criteria:

  • Three years continuous residence in the UK during or after service
  • Close family in the UK
  • A bravery award of level one to three
  • Service of 20 years or more in the Gurkha brigade
  • Chronic or long-term medical condition caused or aggravated by service

This really means, if you are a Gurkha officer, you are more than welcome to stay, if you are one of the other ranks, tough!

As the plaque on the Gurkha Memorial says:


Bravest of the brave,
most generous of the generous,
never had country
more faithful friends
than you.

Perhaps there should have been a final line that reads, “But only when it suits us”?

On behalf of British people everywhere, I apologise to the entire Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal for the treachery of the Government of Great Britain.