Monday, 30 March 2009

Too Expensive

It looks like Home Secretary, Jaqui Smith, amongst others has been caught out fiddling her parliamentary expenses sheet.

I’ve singled Ms Smith out because she holds one of the highest offices in the land. She’s the lady entrusted with sorting out the wrongdoers in our society.

I’m the chairman of a Local Access Forum, and the government say that the local authority has to pay me any travelling expenses that I incur doing the job.

This works out to a few measly quid a year for which I have to supply an almost yard by yard, (or for younger readers, metre by metre), account of my journeys before I get begrudgingly paid months later.

This is not a gripe, just a statement of fact. Most of the members of the forum don’t even bother to claim, we all do the job for free because we feel privileged to represent the public.

It seems to me that a lot of MPs seek election, not to represent the people but to see how much cash they can extract from the job. Why are these people not singled out and expelled?

As JFK once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

A very apt motto for our times!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

These stories are getting a bit Jaded

No, no, no, no! Will nobody rid me of this accursed spectre?

As I was passing the news stand in our local ASDA supermarket yesterday, this headline on the front page, of all things, the ‘Daily Star’ caught my eye, ‘Hollywood Babe To Play Jade.’ Of course I had to stop and investigate further, furtively may I add, just in case any passer-by thought that I was actually going to buy the rag.

It transpires, if the story is to be believed, that Michelle Ryan is lined up to play Jade Goody in a film of her life.

Hold it there! Would that be the Michelle Ryan with the drop dead gorgeous looks and the svelte figure, the Michelle Ryan who played ZoĆ« Slater in the BBC soap ‘EastEnders’, the one who played the ‘Bionic Woman’? It certainly would.
Well, there’s a brilliant piece of casting. That’s comparable to Brad Pitt portraying Lee Marvin!

Will we see scenes of Jade doing heroic deeds on a par with parachuting into Arnhem or storming the beaches of Anzio?

No!

According to the ‘Star’ it will follow her through her years as a dental nurse and applying for ‘Big Brother’ and, I quote, “It will have the saddest of endings, with her bittersweet wedding to Jack Tweed and her christening alongside sons Bobby, five, and Freddy, four.”

Personally, I think this story is just a bit of sensationalism, just there to keep the Jade machine rolling.

Are they never going to let the poor girl rest in peace?

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Nothing succedes like Succession

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Buckingham Palace have discussed plans to change the rules of succession to the throne. He wants members of the Royal family to be allowed to marry Catholics.

Why? Why fix something that ain’t broke?

The monarchy has ticked over quite nicely, thank you, since the rules of succession were set out in the 1701 Act of Settlement.

I have absolutely nothing against Catholics, some of my best friends follow the faith, but if Henry VIII wanted Catholic descendants I doubt if the ‘Dissolution of the Monasteries’ would have happened.

Is Gordon planning to discuss his idea with the Vatican too? Will the Pope want any of his flock marrying into the family of the head of the Anglican Church?

I’ve come up with the perfect solution. The Queen should let her kids marry Catholics, if the Pope will let his kids marry Anglicans.

It’s a win/win situation!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Jade Effect

I’ve been hoping that this story would go away so that I didn’t have to comment on it, but it is now snowballing so out of control, I’m going to shove my oar in.

Now, I’m as sorry as the next man that Jade Goody’s life has been snuffed out at such a tender age with the dreadful cancer, but aren’t people in general and the media in particular making a mountain out of a mole hill?

From here on I’m probably going to be demonised and vilified by, who I shall kindly call, the intellectually challenged!

I don’t like speaking ill of the dead, which I’m not, I am telling it like it is, the truth.

All the time Jade was fit and well, she was the media’s favourite object of ridicule, since her illness was announced, sycophancy has crept in.
Let’s get it straight, Jade was a talent less nobody. She was just one of those people that are famous for being famous.

‘Jade has raised awareness for the need for screening’ shout the headlines. Jade didn’t raise awareness. Campaigning, handing in multi signature petitions at Number Ten or perhaps even a ride on a unicycle from Lands End to John O’Groats promoting your cause, that‘s raising awareness, selling the rights of your wedding to a celebrity magazine, isn’t. As far as I’m aware, Jade didn’t even go on TV and mention the need for screening.

I dare say that when Princess Di got killed in a car crash, more people started wearing seat belts in the back seats of cars. Di never advocated ‘clunk click’ in her lifetime.

The event caused the awareness, not the person.

Gordon Brown talked of his ‘sadness’, did he truthfully know who Jade was? Some clown on the Internet has even suggested that ‘Mothers Day’ be re-named ‘Jade Goody Memorial Sunday’. All of a sudden, it’s cool to love Jade.

Unfortunately folks, when all this fawning has finished, in years to come, all poor Jade will be remembered for is being, at best a loud mouthed bigot, or at worst, a loud mouth racist..

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Man on the Street

Have you had a look at the new Google ‘Street View UK’ site yet? It’s a pleasant way to waste a few spare minutes, seeing street scenes that may be familiar to you.

To protect the people in the images, faces, car number plates and personal details like house names are blurred out to make them unrecognisable.

So far so good, but here’s the rub.

Google have been asked, and have complied, to withdraw some of the images, for example, a drunk puking up and a man walking into a sex shop.

I’m a God-fearing, decorous kind of guy whose, I hope, conduct is impeccable in public, so if you don’t want to be seen being sick in the street, don’t over indulge and if you’re ashamed of going into sex shops, why go in them?

I assume that other people, perhaps even people who know the aggrieved, were in the street at the time that these images were recorded, so why is it OK for them to witness these incidents take place, but not a web-surfer in Timbuktu or Ulan Bator?

So what’s the situation now? If I’m in the background in a news report of an MP being interviewed in the street on TV, or if my visage is captured in a press photograph whilst queuing at the January sales, (an unlikely scenario, I know, but roll with it), have I now the right to demand that these images are removed?

Friday, 20 March 2009

Who's the Sickest?

Ex-dental nurse and reality show participant, Jade Goody, has had the latest issue of ‘OK!’ magazine devoted to her dying with terminal cancer.

‘Ah, that’s nice!’, I hear you say. Not really, the poor girl is still alive.

On the front cover of the rag, directly beneath the title are the words, ‘In Loving Memory’.

This was not published in error as Mark Twain’s well documented obituary in the ‘New York Journal’, on which he commented “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”, in my mind, this is a blatant money making venture on behalf of the publishers of ‘OK!’ magazine.

What I find equally bizarre, is the fact that Ms Goody’s family have said that this ‘tribute’ is “very kind”.

I know that if I was the poor girl, I wouldn’t be laying in bed reading my obit, I’d be hoping and praying that a man, in a white coat with a hypodermic in his hand, would come running into the room at the last minute shouting, ‘Hold on, I’ve got the cure, I’ve got the cure!”

Thursday, 19 March 2009

No English. No Deal.

Deva Kumarasiri, a postmaster in Nottinghamshire, is so proud to be British that he has refused to serve customers in his post office if they cannot speak English.

Mr Kumarasiri’s argument, and rightly so, is that we have a common language to communicate with, and he expects them to use it. How long can someone stand behind a counter trying to interpret sign language?
I don’t know if what he is doing is legal, but I for one applaud him.

On seeing an interview with him on GMTV this morning, I was left with this thought.

How many of the English viewers that were watching this interview, looked up from their cornflakes and said, ‘Good on yer! Well done son’, then this afternoon fly out to their holiday villa in Spain, walk into the local shop and say, ‘Hola mate, me want dos bottles of milk and a packet of Hobnobs per favore.’?

Monday, 16 March 2009

Afghanistan Conflict

The 152nd British serviceman has been killed in Afghanistan. Why are they out there? What is the real reason that they have been sent there?

It appears to me that this conflict isn't going anywhere. At least, in other wars that we have been involved in there have been big battles where either we capture hundreds of enemy troops or they capture hundreds of ours.

In this conflict, there doesn't appear to be much progress being made.

Is there a real enemy to fight in Afghanistan?

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Nonce Rock

Good God! How short is the human memory? Around 750,000 ‘fans’ have bought tickets for a fifty date Wacko Jacko gig at the O2 Arena.

Tickets sold at the rate of eleven per second to see a middle aged man that you wouldn’t feel comfortable letting your cat near.

What’s next on the promoters agenda? Could it be a revival of Gary Glitter’s Christmas show? How about a duet between Jacko and Gaz, written and produced by Jonathan King?

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Northern Ireland and the War on Terror (Update)

Since my last posting, another group claimed responsibility for the murder of the RUC policeman, Constable Stephen Carroll.

A group calling themselves the Continuity IRA claimed to have carried out the killing.

Which rock have this lot crawled from under and how many more of these 'gangs' are there waiting to try to bring disharmony back to the province?

Two men, aged 17 and 37, have been arrested in connection with the murder.

Northern Ireland and the War on Terror

It looks like the ‘old troubles’ are rearing their ugly head again in Northern Ireland with another politically motivated murder, the shooting of a policeman in County Armagh just two days after the murder of two soldiers in County Antrim.

A para-military group, the ‘Real IRA’, whoever they are, have claimed responsibility.
Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, in condemning the attacks, insisted there would be "no return to the old days" in Northern Ireland.

It’s all well and good coming out with a hollow phrase like that, but what if it does escalate to the level of thirty years ago, with bombings and killings on mainland Britain?

What will the American stand be with their ‘war on terror’?
Will Barry Obama respond by pouring thousands of troops into the UK?
Will we see GIs in battle dress and US tanks on the streets of London and Belfast, shooting up the terrorists?

I don’t think so. The ‘Real IRA‘ aren‘t a Muslim faction, are they?

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Ant and Dec's Saturday Night's Gone Away

I see that 'Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway' is for the chop. We all know WHO Ant and Dec are, but WHAT are they.

They command some of the highest fees on British TV, but why? What do they actually do for their day job?

Yes they were in a children’s TV series about twenty years ago. Yes they had a few records released about fifteen years ago. Yes they were in a movie a few years ago, but what is their actual job description?

Have they been in the download charts recently? No? Have you seen their latest blockbuster at your local 'Odeon'? No? In a play on in the West End? No? Juggling on stage at the 'Palladium'? No? Emptying dustbins down your street? No?

I give up. What do they do?

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Are You Interested? (Part II)

Well it happened, then! Not only did the Bank of England lower the interest rate to 0.5% to discourage savers and to turn us into a nation of spenders, it also announced that it is to create £75billion of new money in an attempt to revive lending and an economy that is on the ropes.

This policy, apparently called quantitative easing, is about pouring money into the whole system rather than just into the banks. Mr Darling has given the Bank of England permission to extend this £75billion to up to £150billion.

Don't get too excited though, the Bank wont be printing a shed load of tenners, rather boringly it will be buying assets like bonds and gilts.

I may own a pair of red braces but I'm no financial guru but even I can see that if this is not policed properly by the Treasury, it could lead to higher inflation or even, heaven forbid, hyperinflation.

Everyone who stayed awake during history lessons at school knows what happened to the German economy in in the 1920's.

Just make sure history doesn't repeat itself, Mr Darling!

Are You Interested?

I’m usually known for my tongue in cheek slant on life, but my mind has today been tuned to a modern ponderable. I have just seen that the Bank of England is expected to announce another cut in the interest rate, down to 0.5%, in an attempt to revive the economy.

Just whose economy are they reviving? My bank hasn’t offered me a cheap interest loan since rates started dropping a few months ago, my credit card company hasn’t lowered my interest rate and savers are getting next to no return for their money.

The stock market still falls every day, companies are still going into administration, shops and pubs are still closing, redundancies are on the rise and pensions are being eroded, even a certain retired bank executive has been asked to hand back some of his pension! (I’ve managed to get a bit of satire in, then)

My first thought was that the banks were profiting from these cuts but they appear to be failing as well. If savers get almost no return for their money surely they are not putting it into the bank and if the man in the street is in jeopardy of losing his job, he’s not going to take on a bank loan so the banks can’t be taking in much money either.

So, Mr Darling, just who is profiting?