Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Melanie Reid

The Times pays Melanie Reid to write. Bollocks. Like this piece published before Christmas on compulsory volunteering. Today, sticking to her flipflop principles, she writes that people like her friend who had better jobs than the rest of the planet ought to receive five star treatment at JobCentrePlus when they sign on. Oh the indignity of queueing and waiting behind plebs, of having to be punctual for appointments, of having to prove one is available and searching for work in order to receive JSA or NI credits. Surely, the better people with their networks of contacts should be ushered into the VIP Suite and offered refreshments before telling the Personal Advisers how to do their jobs. There aren't any high calibre jobs on offer in JobCentres, she moans (as did Harry Blackwood last year). There's a reason for that: HR Departments don't advertise free in Jobcentres as they prefer to keep their own jobs and routines comfy by advertising in the national papers or contracting headhunters. Actually, if it became compulsory to advertise all vacancies on the JobCentrePlus website then paradoxically a lot of people wouldn't get jobs because many people find work for themselves by phoning up companies, arranging a meeting and submitting a carefully crafted CV for what we in the job-finding trade called "speculative" vacancies, ie the need for the job was not recognised until the enterprising job-seeker matched their jobskills to the business needs of the company. It's the sort of thing that "Operations Directors" should be able to do for themselves - if not it's not difficult to imagine why they were made redundant. JobCentrePlus help, such that there is given tight budget constraints, is directed at those people with higher barriers to re-employment, such as low qualifications, language, literacy and numeracy needs, long-term unemployed, former soldiers, homeless people, recovering drug addicts, ex-prisoners etc and the ES4 or "exercise book" into which the claimant writes job search details is provided to ensure accountability, for didn't the "Operations Directors" and hackettes swap stories of dole scroungers at dinner parties before they encountered democracy in action at the local JobCentrePlus? Ironically, those people deemed to have significant barriers to employment can be referred to private sector jobfinding companies contracted by the DWP. These companies are paid a fee for each person they find a job for who signs off benefit and no questions are asked how that money is spent. Unlike JobCentrePlus where every penny of public money spent on decent clothes for an interview or the first month's season ticket has to be justified and accounted for. So Melanie, if you are stuck for a few hundred words to write for your next column, why don't you suggest that everyone signing on should be given a shovel and brush and told to sweep for twenty hours a week? Except your friends, of course.

Update 24 April 2010 : I read in today's Times that Melanie Reid suffered a fall from her horse on 4 April causing her to suffer a broken neck and back. She dictated an excellent article about the accident and her subsequent treatment. The prognosis for her recovery at this early stage is pretty good and she is realistically positive. Despite my acerbic comments about her on JobCentrePlus above, I offer her my best wishes and hope that she is able to get back in the saddle as soon as possible. Reading her article again I know that she will not give up trying.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

It's Not The Dunkirk Spirit But The Bridport Spirit That England Needs Now

Man of cabbage/courage Gordo Broon proposes that we delve into his dumbed down and pc bowdlerised dvd of British history and draw strength from the Dunkirk Spirit* which kept plucky Blighty fighting on alone against evil Adolf Hitler until the Soviet Union stopped sending trainloads of supplies to Germany. Well, Broon is talking bollocks as a better analogy of this country's present situation is April-May 1942 when the Japanese were apparently unstoppable in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and the Germans were racing across the steppes to Stalingrad and the 8th Army vitually had its back to the pyramids. Indeed, whoever has the bad luck to win the next election had better start reading up on how the post-war economic miracle in Germany took place for tips on avoiding relegation to the third world.
But one item of news cheered me up: I call it the Bridport Spirit. Small, isolated examples of individuals standing up against alien cultural oppression will snowball into bigger and bigger victories until the evils of Nulab, Common Purpose and the European Union are driven from our shores and every English Man, Woman and Child can stand up free of the shackles of beeboid orthodoxy. Beacons of Hope and Common Sense fuelled by numerous copies of government propaganda, gudelines, strategies, framework documents and all the other unsustainably vacuous toss of years of business school nonsense will light our way into the future. England will make and sell things that hurt if you drop them on your toes instead of being the dodgy bookmaker of Europe.

* As Kenneth Horne described it " Half starved and scared to death."

Top Ten List Of Ordinal Numbers 2009

Back by popular demand. No change from 2008. What is the point of Ann Widecombe?

1 First

2 Second

3 Third

4 Fourth

5 Fifth

6 Sixth

7 Seventh

8 Eighth

9 Ninth

10 Tenth

No change from 2007 then.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

How About This For An Idea?

Come July 31 2009 when British Forces are ceremonially chucked out of Iraq by an ungrateful mob aka the Iraqi people and Parliament (we must have lunch sometime), wouldn't it be a good idea to throw two pairs of shoes out of the last departing Hercules. Attached to both pairs of shoes will be labels inscribed with the simple message "Fuck Off , Don't Make Us Come Back" in arabic, and wearing the shoes will be Anthony Charles Lynton Blair and Aleister "Campbell" Crowley. I am sure the good citizens of Basra will make expert use of centuries of islamic scientific learning to teach the two gentlemen what can actually be done in 45 minutes.

Jacqui Smith's Winterval Viewing Suggestion

Here's an excellent choice of film for our popular Home (Economics) Secretary to watch over the period 25-26 December (The Festival of Shamalamadingdong):

I would have also recommended it to the jovial Assistant Commissioner X as he is now known for anti-terrorist security reasons (no Christmas surcharge on car hires) but he has probably got the Home Secretary's bunker wired already "for the best of reasons".

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Sunday, 14 December 2008

A Communication Failure

Just a quick posting on the De Menezes Inquest. I was taught in the Civil Service that every message requires two things:

person 1 to say or write it;

person 2 to understand it exactly as person 1 means it.

If person 2 does not umderstand exactly what person 1 means then there has been a failure of communication. It is the responsibility of person 1 to ensure that his message is properly understood by his audience.

I read this interesting snippet about DAC Cressida Dick*'s evidence at the Inquest in yesterday's Daily Mail:

She denied that she gave an order that Mr de Menezes must be stopped from getting on to a train at Stockwell 'at all costs' and also denied instructing the firearms teams to use lethal force to stop him.

Miss Dick told the inquest that she ordered armed officers to 'stop him' from getting on the Tube. She said: 'Stop is a phrase we all use all the time to detain, either to talk to someone or to arrest them. I was asking for what you might call a conventional - albeit aware of the risks - challenge from the firearms officers.'

Miss Dick described Mr de Menezes as 'the victim of some terrible and extraordinary circumstances' and said she did not think any officer did 'anything wrong or unreasonable'.

Well that's alright then. As Charlie Croker famously said to a subordinate in different circumstances:

* BA Oxon, MPhil Cantab so one can assume she is reasonably skilled at selecting the precise words required to nail a lucid sentence together.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Pound's Fall Againt The Dollar

Gordon Brown blames the credit crunch on America and says Britain is best placed for recovery and that he has saved the world.
Take a look at this graph from Yahoo Finance . Call me cynical but doesn't a falling Pound mean that the rest of the world is losing confidence in it?
And here's another one from Yahoo Finance showing the Pound's collapse against the Euro. Looks like a converging trend to me.
The good news is that sterling is maintaining its parity against - see Yahoo Finance again - the Zimbabwe Dollar.

Well That's Interesting But I Have No Idea Who He Is

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

The sci-fi character my personality is most like according to the answers I gave to a few questions. Apparently, it's John Sheridan.

An experienced survivor who has maneuvered around many obstacles, you are looked up to by those who rely on your good judgment.

In the last few years, we've stumbled. We stumbled at the death of the president, the war, and on and on. When you stumble a lot you tend to look at your feet. Now we have to make people lift their eyes back to the horizon and see the line of ancestors behind us saying, "Make my life have meaning," and to our inheritors before us saying, "create the world we will live in."

John is a character in the Babylon 5 universe. You can read his biography at the Worlds of JMS fansite.

Haven't these people ever tried fishing?

With thanks to Prodicus

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Good and Bad

I applaud the efforts of Preston to restore some semblance of civility to its streets. Swearing, vomiting and urinating in public are evidence of the decay of society and individual self-respect. How sad though that a poster campaign is needed to educate fellow Englishmen and women of the minimum standards of acceptable behaviour. I remember walking once along an underpass on the Fiveways Island in Birmingham and seeing a large dog cigar on the ground that could not have been extruded from a dog.
Let every town and city in England follow Preston's lead. Make criminals clean every inch of the ground under the supervision of hard-working street cleaners (now that is real public service). Let's make 2009 the year when public drunkenness becomes as much of a social taboo as admitting that football is boring. I don't mind drinking, in fact I don't mind drinking a lot but I don't like people who can't hold their drink. I like people who drink and can still engage in meaningful conversation (which includes listening quietly) or play a game of cards, darts, billiards or dominoes or whatever (skittles for captain haddock no doubt). And best of all I like people who drink with a meal or snacks (pork scratchings, seafood, or best of all good crusty bread, a fine cheese and decent firm, pickled onions*). Good food is vital for social drinking.

* not forgetting thick slices of cold meats with the appropriate condiments: eye-watering mustard and horseradish sauce, richly-complex cumberland sauce and a weapons-grade chutney. And pickled onions for the vegetarians.

EU Sets Up An Anti Pirate Flotilla Round The Horn Of Africa

Good Idea. Trouble is the Spanish Navy have 85% of the ammunition quota.

Let's have some classic Rambling Syd Rumpole from Round The Horne to cheer Our Brave Matelots with a salty mouthful or two of naval slang

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

On Being Treated Like Shit

This is my first Ebay post. It describes how I was shabbily treated today in the local sub-post office where I have spent over £5,000 in postage in the last three years and have helped to keep open despite the wishes of the idiots who mismanage the Post Office.
I went in this morning at 10:30 with six packets to be sent. There were three customers ahead of me and one assistant on. The first customer had decided to cash up twenty bags of loose change from a church christingle service or something on Sunday. While she was being served the first parcel collection of the day was removed by a Royal Mail driver. The next wanted to send assorted size cards but hadn't sorted them out and also various cards to abroad. The third wanted to buy a card and some sweets. When I finally got to the counter at 11:00 there was a queue of about a dozen people behind me stretching to the door. Being an unselfish sort, I suggested that I leave my bag of packets with some cash to be stamped when the workflow eased off and another assistant was due in. No problem, give me your phone number and we'll call you so you can pay by debit card which we prefer. So I departed, thinking that I would be back as soon as the last person in the queue had been served. I had saved the people in the queue five minutes' waiting.
Fast forward to 3:00 pm and I have another packet to send and still no phone call from the post office. So I walk in and find six people in front and within a couple of minutes another six behind. The Royal Mail driver comes in for the second parcel collection. The assistant opens the door to hand the sacks out, sees me and says "I'll serve you right after Glenys" As there were five possible contenders for that title, I said "Don't worry, call me when you a free." I don't like to queue jump: I'm not an OAP.
So at 4:30 pm the phone rings "Come up immediately." I go to the post office to find my packets haven't been stamped yet - I have to put them on the scales myself. The owner says that when the volume of customers eases off she will be able to have lunch. Yes, I have worked without a break many times in a Jobcentre as well but keep that to myself as I did not profit from the number of customers I saw. So after six hours' delay I was finally able to message my customers that their items had been posted.
Was I right to feel that I had been treated like shit? Or is this par for the course for people without sharp elbows? The problem is that having been treated for depression, were I to assert my rights, doubtless the Police firearms team would peremptorily murder me in order to get back to the office for their paperwork, tea and bacon sandwiches.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Did Robert Adam Break Gordon Brown's Moral Compass?

I yield to no one over my dislike of Gordon Brown and the pointless game of football. However, this disturbing story in which the Beria-like Headmaster of Kirkcaldy High School allegedly tricked Our Dear Leader and several other pupils into a beating with a letter strap made my blood run cold. Apparently,

"The headmaster announced at assembly that he'd heard some of the boys were planning to sneak off for the afternoon to watch the [Scotland-Italy World Cup qualifier] game on television and that would not be tolerated. But he said if there were any boys who were desperate to watch the game, they should come to his office after assembly to discuss it."
"Some of the boys went round, thinking the headmaster might put a TV in one of the classrooms. Instead, he got them in one by one, gave them a good belting, and told them if they tried to play truant that afternoon, they'd get another belting every day for a month."

If true, the perpetrator should be dragged out and shot in the gutter both for the duplicitous misery he inflicted at first hand and then through Brown on the rest of us. What a sick, twisted, perverted evil bastard. From Fife Today I learn that:

"The late Robert McGowan Adam (1906-90) was headmaster of Kirkcaldy High School from 1948 to 1971 and cared much about education in Fife."

If so, he had a funny way of showing it. I hope he drowned in shit.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Mortgage Interest Payment Protection From Gordon: A Con

Is it me being cynical or has Gordon Brown found a money mine at the bottom of his garden?
His wonderful new plan to allow "hard-working households" to take a six-month mortgage interest holiday for up to two years to avoid repossession of their homes looks too good to be true.
In the first place there are scores of mortgage interest protection plans out there for responsible people to buy along with house and contents insurance. I remember most of the nicer people in the Jobcentre on the other side of the desk had signed on for Jobseekers Allowance in order to claim against their mortgage interest insurance policy. Provided they satisfied the conditions for JSA, every two weeks we would complete a form for them to send to their insurers which stated they were looking for work as the policy required. No charge on the public purse.
For claimants on income-based JSA (and with savings of less than £16,000), the DWP pays average interest for the mortgage after 39 weeks in most circumstances. Here is the rubric.
It is clear that the logic behind this scheme is simply that £1 billion is a cheap price to mollify Middle-England/Worcester Woman/Mondeo Man voters in the run up to the next General Election when many Labour marginals will be at stake. Most people who might need it will already have MIPP and will not qualify. Somehow, when people realise that their mortgage holiday has ended and they are left with a larger monthly repayment to find (because the deferred interest and the capital will accrue interest during the holiday) in order to stay in their less valuable houses (because this scheme won't increase prices) , I reckon they will be extremely reluctant to pay the extra tax to pay the interest on HMG's increased borrowing. And not repaying the capital sum won't do much for increasing the amount of liquid cash in the financial system - the reason why the banks were bailed out by the Bank of England. But by then Labour hope to have squeaked through for another four years' of loot and pillaging.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

A Message From Someone Else Below The Law

"Tell our enemies that they may take our sanity, but they'll never take back... THEIR FREEDOM! "

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Damian Green Affair: An Ex-Civil Servant Writes

I can honestly say that during my career as a civil servant I never leaked any information. The fact that I had signed the Official Secrets Act (twice actually, one for me and one for my Estabs. file) had nothing to do with it. The reason was that I dealt with Top Boring material that the most desperately-close-to-a-deadline-with-no-copy hack would not even use to wipe bird poo off a car. How I wished in my early days that the six foot tall armour steel safe in the office contained more than a copy of the combination numbers in case the Admin Assistant was sick and couldn't come in to open the safe. I saw minutes about proposals for open government marked confidential and a minute about a road on the Welch Borders replying to one on file 31 years before (not much need for "action this day" in Shropshire) but never anything that would set fire to every front page. Or if I did, I read it, forgot it instantly and made a coffee. Oh, did I tell you I worked for two years on the site of the apartment block where Carol Vorderman and Frank Skinner now own flats? That's about the extent of my Civil Service-related gossip.
I understood, believed and practised the Northcote-Trevelyan (and their successors) philosophy of Civil Service impartiality because it was fair and made sense. The Civil Service was like cricket umpires, there to make government run effectively whichever party was in power for the fun of the game. And just as cricket and sport in general has become more "professional" ie nastier in recent years, so politics and government has also. When once a batsman would walk before waiting for the umpire's finger, today ministers and whips use every trick of the Nixon-Stalin-Macchiavelli manual to stay in (money) power at the expense of the opposition. Special Advisers have mushroomed during the NuLabour years and the Government Information Service has become horrifyingly politicised (eg Campbell's souped-up 45 minute Iraq dossier and Tom Kelly " Dr David Kelly was a Walter Mitty character"). The rules of the game have changed. Play cricket if you pad up and walk out to the crease but politics a la Brown has become seal clubbing. And so when EURefendum writes this Colonel Blimpish tosh I have to say, look the battle being fought in Parliament is too important and too vital for the old, superseded rules to apply. If Brown wins again then the European/Global project will be unstoppable without bloody and protracted civil war which nobody wants. If the Tories form the next government the immediate situation and policies might not be to the purist tastes of Dr Richard North and Peter Hitchens, for example, but they will be a step in the other direction or even just a slowing of the rate of change. And that can be built on. But petulantly saying that because a particular party is not 100% to your taste it is wrong is like refusing to catch a bus because it doesn't drop you at your door. The only form of politics where you get all you want when you want it is dictatorship.
And so in this radically different and dangerous world the certainties of yesteryear no longer apply. I would not encourage any civil servants to break their position of trust and advise the raising of any concerns with management with trade union support to resolve matters but if their consciences preclude alternative actions then, in the present circumstances, leaking material embarrassing to Labour is acceptable. Leaking material prejudicial to national security (national interest has been confused with party interest) is a different matter. Remember, Labour politicised the Civil Service with SpAds and politically acceptable senior civil servants, so they are only getting a bit back of what they dished out. If you take the EUReferendum point of view then you might agree that it was right for police in the Channel Islands to continue to work for the Nazi occupiers as the Germans became the governing authority when the islands were surrendered.
Sometimes desperate measures are needed in a fight for the survival of the independent English way of life and, being too young to have voted for or against membership of the EEC, EC or EU or whatever, we should all begin by renting the DVD of V for Vendetta, reading a biography of Ghandi and shouting "I'm mad as hell and I won't put up with this any more". England can mind its own business once again but the weapons and tactics to fight the peaceful war against those who wish to remove our special identity and turn us into identical global producers and consumers will require stronger stomachs to use them effectively. When the war for freedom is won then Northcote-Trevelyan can come back into the room.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Not Much Blogging For The Time Being

Today and for the foreseeable future I shall be putting unwanted stuff on Ebay in order to reap the benefit of Darling's desperate plan to (save NuLabour's electoral skin) shock the economy back into life. Taking photos and writing descriptions is rather time consuming. The cash generated will be spent on candles, razor blades, matches, canned and dried food etc which will occupy the newly vacant space in my shed. I reckon that cash will not be the most important thing to have in a post-Brown economy.
I intend to post on the efficacy of such things as the pedal-powered Powerplus Gazelle generator once I've sold enough to buy one. In the meantime, keep well, warm,safe, and unless you are a Nulab politician, your job.

Friday, 21 November 2008

A Brilliant Weblog: Old Holborn

I reckon this is the best, angriest and truest blog I have read for a long while and heartily recommend it to everyone who isn't offended by a teensy bit of justified swearing but is "Mad as Hell and [ ] won't put up with it" it being the ruination of our once great and decent nation and society - the Peter Finch clip is there, just scroll down.
Honestly, if it wasn't for important questions like Yorkshire Puddings, I would stop blogging and just read Old Holborn instead.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Common Purpose Graduate List Published

Now that would be important information but it's hardly likely until the project is complete and further resistance is futile. Keep the fonefodder quiet with Strictly Come Dancing and the others with the publication of BNP members (two minute group hate, everyone).
Remember the old socialist slogan "Unity Is Strength"? Well "Diversity Is Power" is the new version for those who seek to control society by fragmenting it and removing trust. Totalitarian government prefers regulation, which it enforces from above, to trust, which individuals develop from the grass roots upwards.

England North and South

The key question: do you serve the Yorkshire Pudding as a separate course before the beef or with it?

Please state which county you live in or from which county you derive your culinary style.

More conventional divisions of England place the border between the Humber or Wash and Severn or the real Watford Gap where proper custard on puddings ends. I reckon that North Staffordshire is the southouthernmost county with pudding apartheid but I welcome all comments.

How wonderful and versatile is the humble batter mix - from YP to pancakes to toad-in-the-hole - surely three recipes that can hold their own internationally. And, digressing slightly, what about the Staffordshire oatcake, that perfect accompaniment to a cooked breakfast or the thinking person's wrap when filled with bacon and chaze, duck* - honestly, that overhyped Mexican tortilla rubbish or those dreadfully grey, hard and dour Scotch oatcakes are no comparison.

*duck is the standard term of endearment in the Potteries or Five Towns (why did Arnold Bennett omit Fenton?) or Stoke-on-Trent. Chaze is the local pronunciation of cheese just as watter is water.Many would say the the best tasting oatcakes are from Hanley but the shop owners are apparently Port Vale fans** so I can't give them 10/10 :-).

** Didn't I just write about my dislike of football in the previous post? Well, call me contradictory but I support Stoke City in a let's hope they stay up in the Premier Division, I'm glad when they win sense but never in the actually watching football sense of proper supporters.
And so Port Vale are always second to Stoke City except when they are playing someone else (and as there's a couple of leagues in between them, that's most of the time now). Well, at least Port Vale aren't Manchester United....

Monday, 17 November 2008

An Idea To Help England Through The Recession

I cannot abide soccer so I offer the idea below for the benefit of those that follow the loathsome game.

Cap the ticket price to see a football game at £5.

The salaries of players and managers may need to be reduced as a result.

But it will benefit fans at a time of economic belt tightening.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Jobcentre Plus Procedures

I read this article by Harry Blackwood in today's Mail on Sunday about the dehumanizing procedures in Jobcentres and realised that I was right to take redundancy when I did because things have worsened.
Mr Blackwood complains that the interviews were information gathering exercises without time taken to sympathise with him. That is how it is meant to be. Claim processers and Advisers have to obtain specific information on a person in a time set by senior management and they are penalised if the procedures (ie boxes are not ticked) are not completed in time or the target number of interviews per week are not met. Don't bother to argue that the customer was late or unprepared or hostile, the performance indicators must be met so that good statistics can be fed up the line to senior management.
Mr Blackwood would have liked more time spent helping him with his job search. Update: no he wouldn't. So in return for Jobseeker's Allowance the taxpayer should accept his word that he was looking for work without the adviser checking. Some people claim JSA and live off their savings or spouse's earnings while indulging in their hobbies. Well, as he can string words together into a sentence and doesn't fall off his chair, the policy is that he cannot receive additional (outsourced) help until he has been claiming for six months. Unless he is disabled, ex-services or non-English speakers or out of prison or a drug addict in which case immediate referral is available. I would bend the rules as often as possible for clients like Mr Blackwood by referring them under one or other of the first two categories - it helped them and helped me because I scored more points if they got jobs.
One unsavoury aspect of the procedures and performance driven culture was the belief that a certain number of claims were fraudulent because the claimant was working. Suspected fraudsters were called in for random mandatory interviews to disrupt their lives and induce them to sign off. Because say, 4% of claimants in a sample had been discovered to be working and claiming (easily done because of the complexity)and inefficiency of the benefits and tax credit system) then at least 4% of claimants had to be made to sign off through more frequent attendance interviews. If that target wasn't met, then the adviser assigned this additional and difficult task (because additional interviews had to be shoehorned into an already full diary pre-filled by others) had failed to meet a performance target which affected the annual appraisal and pay increase.
So to any customers of Jobcentre Plus who feel they aren't carried the extra mile in their difficult job of finding a job, please understand that better service costs more and that the staff want to help but can't. Blame James Purnell instead of shouting at the equally stressed and demoralised person across the desk whose biro you take.

Friday, 14 November 2008

DWP Awards Benefits Card Account To Post Office

This is good news and is belated recognition that post offices are part of the fabric of society, like public libraries and the NHS.
However, I'm puzzled how the DWP were able to terminate the procurement process midstream, albeit with significant bidding compensation to Paypoint (just like the £5million Virgin got in the failed Northern Rock privatisation), and hand the contract to 2015 to the Post Office. I thought that the EU Procurement Directive banned practices like this. As always where the EU is concerned, please go to EUReferendum to get the definitive answer. Forelock tug to Dr North. It would appear that governments can ignore EU law at will.
On a personal note, I remember the time spent in the Job Centre by everyone encouraging customers to open a basic bank account or a Post Office Card Account in the months before giros were phased out. I'm glad that effort hasn't been wasted.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Olympics 2012: If only We'd Known Then What We Know Now

Tessa Jowell makes this startling if depressing admission in today's Daily Telegraph.

Forelock touch to The Englishman for this story.

Please take this opportunity to sign the 10 Downing Street OlympicPrudence Petition in the right hand column which asks for Mrs Jowell and Lords Coe and Moynihan to be jointly and severally liable for any budget overruns.

Prime Minister's Questions

What would you do if you saw a tortoise on its back in the baking sun, Gordon? Set up an inquiry, read the executive summary of the Report on The Care of Mobility-Impaired Testudinidae in a BWh* Climate Environment and , following consultation with stakeholders, promulgate best practice guidelines and protocols to ensure that no more tortoises would experience similar adverse lifepaths ? Or would you think "oh I can't bear to see that poor turtle in pain, struggling to get back on his feet, I must help him immediately" ?

So, let's see Leon's VK Scene from Bladerunner (available in a range of versions from all good dvd and video suppliers, or you could download or rent a copy). It's a great film and one of my favourites.

*Koppen Climate Classification hot desert.

The Weather In Coventry

If you read EUReferendum you may have seen a photo of Gallimaufry Park under an unseasonal light coating of snow. We have family in Canada so it's not actually snow (this is what Canadian snow is like):

Actually, it's much deeper.
Anyway if you are worried about the weather in the Midlands' premier city please check with the excellent Bablake School Weather Station for urban weather or Coventry Airport EGBE for that rural weather.

Monday, 10 November 2008

I Like Religions Because -

- they tell me that as I don't believe in an invisible magic friend I have no moral compass and cannot distinguish between right and wrong. Unlike these worthy chaps who are fully trained staff members of their religions. Bless them.

Read this five page story by Herman Melville and this Emo Phillips joke with an open mind:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"
He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"
Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over

Saturday, 8 November 2008

I Think Barack Obama Will Be An Excellent President

I was most impressed by his performance at today's press conference. He has bottom or gravitas, he thinks before he answers, can nail words together fluently into a sentence and, most importantly, has a good sense of self deprecating humour. I may not agree with all his policies but he has time to change.
I wish him, his family and the American people the best of luck for the future.
I wish we in England had someone of his calibre instead of the sixth-form debating society of Cameron, Clegg and Brown and so on down the ranks who vie with each other to outdo their condemnation of Ross and Brand while ignoring the important questions they have no influence over nor genuine interest in. As Sir Winston Churchill might have described them, "mice in hobnail boots". How's that Hazel?

Friday, 7 November 2008

Why Doesn't The BBC Use The D-Word?

Disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer will not face charges over his part in a prostitution scandal. Out of interest, which party did he represent? Oh, here it is, tucked away on the profile link. But why use such vague words like : "His governorship marked a prize win for the Democrats, as the office had been in Republican hands since 1994" and "As a politician, Mr Spitzer was seen as a rising star of the Democratic Party" ? Oh he is a Democrat. I thought only Republicans could be involved in scandals. This is what the BBC wrote in its Sarah Palin profile updated on 5 November:

"Mrs Palin was also revealed to be under investigation by state lawmakers over alleged abuse of power.
She was accused of violating ethics rules when she fired the state's top law enforcement official, allegedly because he refused to sack her former brother-in-law. Mrs Palin denies any wrongdoing."

And this is what the New York Times wrote on 3 November:

"ANCHORAGE — A report released on Monday by a state board found that Gov. Sarah Palin did not apply improper pressure to try to dismiss a state trooper who was her former brother-in-law and did not violate state ethics laws in the firing of her public safety commissioner."

I couldn't find a similar report on the BBC News website. Why?

It makes me wonder what the 175 extra BBC journalists were actually doing in the USA* - it would appear they were certainly not reading the online editions of the major newspapers. At least Adam Smith or Steve Zackaranda, formerly of the Birmingham Post group, was honest about his journalistic endeavours/ cutting and pasting from the BBC in his tired and emotional Youtube resignation video. With thanks to The Daily Pundit.

*very nicely, thank you.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Next Mandelson Will Tell Bears Not To Shit In Woods

Look, in big letters, BANKS ARE MACHINES TO MAKE MONEY FOR THEMSELVES. They are not stuck in the High Street to help small businesses, hard-pressed homeowners or greedy hedgefund directors. If they happen to do good for others, that is a side effect of their prime function which is to make money for themselves. So, please don't imagine that banks are interested in UK plc any more than mosquitos are interested in your toe that inadvertantly sticks out of the mozzie net.
What is needed is a public inquiry into the whole sordid financial sector from Treasury, Bank of England and FSA downwards, followed by some exemplary prison sentences for the guilty men. Returns for shareholders and rewards for senior managers should be bread and water rations until the taxpayer is repaid every last penny. And then a properly staffed and paid* regulator should watch it like a hawk.
Finally, England should be proud to earn her living by making and selling things other than magic beans.

*ie bonuses for convictions.

The Question All England Should Ask About The US Election

Will Jeremy Vine dress up like a cowboy again to "explain" the results?

Monday, 3 November 2008

Another Victory For Ignorance

Latin words have been banned by Bournemouth Council, among others, because they might not be understood by some people. If someone mistakes eg for egg they should be gaffer taped to the nearest floor for safety's sake. Some sixty per cent of English words are derived from Latin. Are Council employees to be restricted to grunts and swear words in their conversations with their employers?
I remember a scouse Principal noting on a minute that since the amount of money involved was very small no futher action would be taken because of "de minimus". So, dear reader, I corrected it to read de minimis (de takes the ablative case [plural in the phrase de minimis non curat lex] and not the subjective or vocative) and unfortunately the cock discovered my correction. As a result, Latin was forbidden on minutes originating within his bailiwick. Ironically, henceforward I was persona non grata .
But Latin is a beautiful language whose study, in addition to the pure intellectual joy one gains by mastering it, offers insights into other European languages. If money is wasted on translation services ( if someone wishes to live in England they must learn English) and if even the most Prescottian chav can text abbreviated nonsense on mobile phones (I didn't know that the majority of their users had opposable thumbs) then time should be found to teach Latin in all schools. Or why don't people turn their tellies off when a soap or a phone-in talent/ donkey parade is on and read a book, learn a skill and think for themselves.

The Fathers of the Jet Engine Sir Frank Whittle and Dr Hans von Ohain

Gloster E28/39

Sir Frank Whittle

Heinkel He 178

Dr Hans von Ohain

I'm republishing this post because I've just bought an excellent DVD from about the greatest son of Coventry for a miniscule £4.99 downloaded or £17.99 if you buy it on disk. There's an article about the making of the DVD by Nicholas Jones in this November 2008's Aeroplane Monthly and Model Engine News January 2008 has more information. And no, I have not been paid by any of the above.

It's proof that if the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Waterloo, the wars of the Twentieth Century were won in the sheds of the Midlands aka infamously as "that area stuck between London and Yorkshire". But the author of that careless slur*, definitely not an aerosceptic in this case, believed this was real. Really, the effects of propellor torque, instant change of cg, roll/yaw coupling, progressive structural failure** leapt out at me immediately shouting CGI***, but then I've seen my balsa and tissue efforts destroyed in a flash many times.

*altered after protest to Paradise.
** So I'm an aeroplane flying jacket? We all have our obsessions.
** *Computer Generated Imagery, ie why Lord Mandelson casts a shadow on telly.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

"Democratic" Republic of Congo Is Not In Our Backyard

And neither is Rwanda. They were Belgian colonies*. But Lord Malloch-Brown, Foreign Office Minister for Africa reckonsthat Britain should send troops if diplomacy fails (ha ha, bless). Apparently Britain is the EU stand-by nation, which actually means that every other country stands by until Britain says "Well someone has to do it" and rolls its sleeves up. In any sane world the EU would squeeze out some dirty money from its unaudited accounts and pay a western-officered brigade of mercenaries to clear the military mess up in a couple of weeks. Surely killing a few hundred terrorists would be better than thousands of raped and murdered women and children even in the looking-glass world of the left media. Waiting for the EU to act would result in a proven success like Dharfur or Congo.

Don't send British Troops to Congo or Rwanda!

Update: I didn't do anything!

*OK, so Rwanda was a German colony mandated to Belgium by the League of Nations after WWI, but there's still no British connection.

Government Waives VAT on Help For Heroes X-Factor Single

According to the Sun.

But the truth is that VAT can't be waived without the agreement of the European Commission and the other 26 EU member states. So Alastair Darling announced announced that the Government will waive VAT on the sale of the X-Factor Help For Heroes single, by making an exceptional one-off charitable donation equivalent to the sum of the VAT receipts collected on sales of the single. "I very much support the Help For Heroes campaign and the efforts of the X-Factor contestants. In recognition of this I am proposing effectively* to waive VAT on the sale of the X-Factor Help For Heroes single, and will do this by making an exceptional one-off charitable donation equivalent to the sum of the VAT receipts collected on sales of the single".

So after doling billions out to the banks without a debate or vote in Parliament, the "government" finds a measly £500,000 of taxpayers' money to offset the tax bill to help the recovery of servicemen and women injured on duty. Wouldn't it have been just as fair to put a swear box in BBC Broadcasting House?

When will the media accept that Britain's independence has been prostituted to the EU by our professional politicians of all parties from Heath onwards? Why isn't Britain offended by the explicit messages on Britannia's Grandfather's answerphone saying that Liberty has been shagged by all and sundry?

* my italics

An Unsolicited Message To The American Electorate

If you haven't voted yet, and can't make up your mind who to vote for in your Presidential Elections on November 4, why not confound the pollsters and write another name on the ballot paper.

Ladies and Gentlemen of The United States of America may I suggest a third candidate:

So what if some of your ancestors rejected King George III way back in 1776? We're both big enough countries to accept that a tiny mistakette was made then and that America would be happier in the Commonwealth with H M The Queen as head of state. Besides, after every election genealogists find a connection between your President and our Royal Family. You'd just need to put u in words like harbor and spell centre correctly. Oh, and could we please borrow a couple of aircraft carriers?

Seriously, please vote for whoever you wish on Tuesday and show the world that the beacon of democracy shines brightest in the USA. It doesn't really matter to me which candidate wins because I place my trust in the innate goodness and sense of the American people that is embodied in and outlasts every President.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Another Little Dorrit

I like Andrew Davies (he always returns a hello if I see him when we take the dog for a walk) but, to be honest, what is the point of a new adaptation of Little Dorrit for the BBC when there is already a definitive 360 minute two-part film by Christine Edzard released in 1988. Surely those films could have been shown in half hour chunks to publicise the release of the DVD? Or does the BBC have a charter obligation to employ every member of British Equity at least once a year and ensure full employment for whisker and bonnet makers?
Ah, this is why. Follow the money because it goes back to the beeb.
Why doesn't the BBC take a chance and commission Mr Davies and other excellent writers to produce original scripts? Or reintroduce the single play format instead of countless murder mini-series or cliched agitprop rants? Did the spark of creativity really leave the BBC with James Purnell MP?

A Geography Lesson For EU Referendum

In a post today, Dr Richard North described Coventry as "that bit of England stuck somewhere between London and Yorkshire". Which is as daft as those Brummies who claim Birmingham is the second city to London (instead of Coventry).
For the simple fact is that instead of being stuck somewhere between London and Yorkshire, Coventry is the centre of England and therefore the world. Therefore, London and Bradford are places miles away on the edge of the world for the purpose of paid business only.
It is a truth universally acknowledged by the wise that leafy Warwickshire has all the arboreal beauty of the Garden of Eden and, except for occasional soujourns to enjoy the coastal areas of Devon, Dorset and Cornwall, there is no need to leave Shakespeare's county.
And to show there's no hard feelings from me to the irascible Dr North here's his equally nice garden in faraway Yorkshire. So, when the EU, carbon-warmers, windmills and everything else gets too much go into your own oasis and chop a slug in half with a trowel before watching the birds get on with life without a single Directive.

Digressing, I remember the industrial psychologist at the DWP in Coventry (it was during a training course for advisers on mental illness and Jobcentre customers since you ask) disagreeing with me that access to gardens, parks or open country was an important means of maintaining mental health. And I hadn't even said that religious adherence (the opium of the masses, unless we're talking about the underclass when heroin is the opium of those masses) which he argued was very important was actually a symptom of mental illness (magic invisible friend syndrome).

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Is Lord Mandelson Hard of Hearing?

Popular Peter Mandelson has gone to Moskva (well if the beebles call Bombay Mumbai yet still call crap Indian films Bollywood then I can call foreign cities what I want) to work hard for small businesses. He is staying in an allegedly £5,500 suite in the Baltshug Kempinski Hotel while the businessmen and women in the delegation are, relatively speaking, roughing it for £300 a night. What is the purpose of the British Embassy if not to provide secure accommodation and communications for a Cabinet Minister? Perhaps MI6 advised Lord Pigeonhole that he would probably be bugged by the FSB if he slept outside the Embassy.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Friday Night Recession Music

1997 - is that Professor Brian Cox on keyboard? Labour inherit a Tory boom.

2008 - it's all ended in tears but there's lots of magically created Monopoly money to spend to get out of trouble.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

1707 Again

With the imminent nationalisation of both the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland at the cost to the Exchequer of £50billion or many £Mandelsons, would it not be reasonable to expect economies to be made in North Britain such as the abolition of its devolved parliament and executive? For isn't the payment from mainly English taxpayers to bail out the Scottish-based banks a twenty-first century version of The Equivalent? Ironically the Royal Bank of Scotland was established as the Equivalent Society to administer the £398,085 10s bail out to settle the debts of the Company of Scotland. By the way, that is now worth either this or £59.7million so have English taxpayers paid too much for Scottish debts at the insistence of our Scottish Prime Minister and Scottish Chancellor?

Saturday, 11 October 2008

I Don't Blame Iceland, Just Their Bankers

I like Iceland, it's not in the EU and it produced Magnus Magnusson and Bjork.

Notice the Icelandic male dancers who have lost their shirts and trousers due to the bank crunch. I bet Iain Dale will.

So hands off the land of geysirs and viable cod stocks Gordon Broon. If you want to strut around the world stage looking important and statesmanlike, why don't you order the launch of a couple of Tomahawk SLCMs against the Presidential Palace in Khartoum to help sort out Dharfur instead?
I was minded to write this post after reading an excellent one from haddock on honour which includes a moving letter from an Icelander called Runar.
Why the f*** aren't bankers and regulators and politicians apologising for the £trillion f***-up that those smarty-clever sh** forbrains have created through their shortsighted greed. If anyone else had caused that much damage you can bet that the shares of lampost and hemp rope makers would be rocketing away.
Instead, the Police are training in riot control in case cash points are not refilled or bank cards cancelled and people discover they cannot buy food or petrol even though the price is falling. And on the subject of falling oil prices, didn't the energy companies explain their massive price increases on the alleged linkage between the price of crude oil and gas? When will domestic fuel prices fall?

Only Connect ...

Is it just me that makes a comparison between Broon's bullying of Iceland to grab hold of money (using anti-terrorist legislation (ok, it's only been a thousand years after the last Viking raids! ) - btw why weren't Saudi and Pakistani finances frozen to assist the forgotten war on terror?) and Premier Putin's smash and grab campaign in Georgia this summer. Thank goodness strategic overstretch and underfunding of defence makes it impossible to send a Royal Navy task force across the Atlantic to bring a few boatloads of cod back as the first repayment instalment. Pissing off that strategically sited NATO ally is not a good idea when Russia (also pissed off by Blair and Broon) is trying to detach Europe from North America.
And why doesn't Broon write the debt off as he was so keen to do with African kleptocracies? Is it because the Icelandic bankers are just incompetent gamblers instead of incompetent, thieving, murdering gamblers as found in Africa? Or is it because a recent party donor has a substantial portion of her wealth invested in sheep's head and geysir futures?

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Bankers Must Watch This And Act Accordingly

Now is the time for James Stewart to fix the credit crunch problem.

I thoroughly recommend "It's A Wonderful Life". Buy or rent a copy to cheer yourselves up in these difficult times.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

That $700 Billion Financial Bail-Out In Perspective

$700 billion is a lot of money. However, the payment is a one-off bail-out to restore liquidity in the banking industry. Something that affects everybody. Yet are there complaints about greedy fatcats who received billions of dollars every year despite only amounting to 2% of the American population? Here are some figures about US agricultural subsidies. Note that between 1996 and 2002 an average of $16billion per year was paid : that's $112 billion in seven years when things were going well. Perhaps those Wall Street bankers should wear plaid shirts and jeans in order to improve their PR.

Ministry of Spells & Magic Created

Rumour has it that J K Rolling has been offered a seat in the House of Lords as Baroness Rolling of Rollingrollingrawhide and will head up a newly established department charged with returning the world and Britain in particular to the the sunlit uplands of continual economic boom, producing an end to child poverty, a Bentley for every African, world peace and a cure for climate change so successful that we will all need to wear a pullover for a couple of years until Nulabour global warming kicks in. The Wildlife and Countryside Act will be repealed to allow the culling of sufficient numbers of newts and toads required for potions.

Cabinet Ministers Share Official Car To Reduce Carbon Footprint

It could have been investment bankers. I am very fond of orang-outangs and offer my thanks to the Daily Mail for the splendid article accompanying the lovely picture. Aaaah! Better than credit crunch and Peggy F***wit the Caravan Queen becoming Housing Minister. Labour's election winning idea: "We're All Travellers Now!"

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Topsy-Turvy Government

It is odd that our government has recently divested itself of our stake in British Energy, thus placing all the UK's nuclear power-stations in the hands of French state-owned EdF, while at the same time buying up failed banks run into the ground by gambling chimps who waltz away stuffed with bonuses.
If a supermarket chain becomes financially doddery, will Gordon flog off the Royal Air Force to realise the readies to nationalise tens of thousands of trolleys and chillers in order to prevent a catatastrophe in the food supply industry? What is the limit of McBroon's expansionism?

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Is the Sub Prime Problem Being Looked At The Wrong Way

From what I've heard, read and seen the credit crunch began when banks in America lent money to people who weren't good credit risks to buy houses to live in. Those mortgages were bundled together with slightly better ones, sliced, diced, squeezed, spread and reformed into securities that were then sold to clever grown-ups in big banks around the world for folding money. Despite, it now turns out, nobody having the slightest idea how much the securities were actually worth except everyone else in the class has got them. Now that banks have suddenly realised they all bought magic beans, due diligence has returned with a vengeance and they refuse to lend money to anyone because they've got sub-prime securities and they won't get their money back. So the entire capitalist economic system has gummed up like something very complicated with gum in it. And the only thing that can ungum things is a massive amount of public money injected into the system by means of the US Treasury or Bank of England buying the sub-prime securities and swapping them for fresh, real money. Unfortunately, the only way the Treasury can get hold of the money (because tax won't be increased, alegedly) is to borrow it from those banks whose refusal to lend it to each other has caused the credit crunch.
My head is spinning so I will write my key point now. The $700 billion will help the banks and bankers get back to making massive amounts of money for themselves. The people defaulting on their mortgages will see themselves made homeless. If all that money can be magicked up to help bankers, wouldn't it be fairer and more sensible to spend it at the other end of the economy to have necessary work done, to create better-paid jobs so that the present sub-prime mortgage defaulters can continue to pay their mortgages. They will stay in their homes, the sub-prime securities will gain some value and can then be bought and sold again and the banks will be able to write off their now somewhat reduced losses against greed and stupidity. Just a thought.

Large Hadron Collider Results

It would appear that £4 billion has been spent to produce an anticlimax which isn't actually a little bit of a little bit of an atom but just the announcement that the experiment designed to break things has broken itself. Good job the LHC wasn't started up at Christmas as the disappointment would have been magnified by the shops being closed. The scientists and engineers at CERN will certainly need their Plumber's Higher Diplomas to get the thing working again for next year. I reckon that scientific experiments like this or Mars Beagle should have been called OOPS or SODIT so that anything other than a complete write off could be deemed a success. Small wins, as a boss used to say (mind you, she was an idiot).

Monday, 22 September 2008

There's Not Enough Lamp Posts In Mayfair And The Square Mile To Give Bankers A Proper Thank You

Peter McKay puts it perfectly in today's Daily Mail. String Them Up!

Olympic Prudence Petitition

Good news. My e-petition to the Prime Minister has been accepted at last.

This is the text:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that the Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games, The Rt Hon. The Lord Coe KBE, the Chairman of the British Olympics Association, The Rt Hon. The Lord Moynihan, and the Minister for the Olympics and Paralympics, The Rt Hon. Tessa Jowell MP, will be jointly and severally responsible for any expenditure in excess of the budget for the London 2012 Olympics confirmed by The Rt Hon. Tessa Jowell MP on 10 December 2007.

This petitition will encourage proper financial accountability and rigour for a major public project at a time of unprecedented global economic hardship for hard-working British families. The three key decision makers named in the petition will be incentivised to make prudent long term decisions with other people's money if their assets can be seized by Court Order to reduce any debts incurred.

If you agree to the above, please sign up to the petitition at:

I'd be grateful if you could copy this post on to your own blogs or forward it by email to friends who are British citizens or residents - alas foreigners do no qualify.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Hairy Posterior And The Bung Of Desperation

Ordinary former destitute single mum (aah) and now £560 millionairess J K Rowling has given Gordon Brown and NuLab £1 million as a token of her thanks for doing so much to alleviate child poverty. I don't think she'll have to shop at Aldi as a result of giving the money away.
Now, I would normally make some jokes based on the books that J K Rowling wrote but as I've never read any nor seen a minute of the films made from them I will refrain on grounds of complete ignorance.
Instead , may I suggest that if I had £560 million and felt so passionately about child poverty I would use it to set up schemes to alleviate it myself in a similar way to Carnegie and Nuffield in previous centuries. Giving away a tiny fraction of one's wealth to assist the re-election of a political party with a proven track record of spending other people's money (including that of poor married parents and single people with better foresight and judgement) not very well is, I believe, a rather selfish action. But I'm not a half-billionaire so ignore me.

Friday, 19 September 2008

National Interest And Post Office Closures

Funny how Gordon Brown invokes "national interest" to ignore competition legislation so that Lloyds TSB can take over HBOS and prevent a mega-Northern Rock catastrophe yet the network of Post Offices is undergoing vicious pruning. Is it not in the national interest for pensioners, disabled people and everyone else to have access within walking distance of a wide range of banking, utility and government services? Or does national interest only extend as far as the jobs of Bank of Scotland workers (and I hope that any redundancies will be voluntary) in Scotland and how that affects the electoral prospects of Labour in Scotland? Remember that Gordon Brown signed the 1988 Claim of Right and declared and pledged that the interests of the Scottish people shall be paramount in all his actions and deliberations.

Say No to the Double Crossers!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Lawn Edging

Since Monday I have mostly been lawn edging.
The Brown flood of rain has caused the edge between lawn and border to fill in with soil (not good for the mower blades) and get annoyingly ragged and weedy. As it's been dry for the past five days I took the opportunity to do this chore that I thought would take a morning at most. Unfortunately, I must have the estimating skills of an investment banker because I'm just two-thirds done. It's knackering work because I've had to transplant or pot up self-setters* as I work so I admire and envy Toby Buckland's excellent and effortless-looking demonstration available on iPlayer until Friday. (from 22:40). The good thing about gardening knackeredness is that it is compensated by the brilliant smell of the soil and the wonderful assortment of greens that one sees close up . It's a good job well done and the sight of so many earthworms in the friable soil that was once heavy clay proves that mulching with homemade compost in the Autumn is really worthwhile.

*The cheapest and strongest plants so no way do they go on the compost heap.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Honour Our Ghurka Heroes

I originally posted this on 21 March but have decided to repost it on this day that Gurkhas went to Court to seek what should be the bare minimum this country owes her loyal friends. Three Cheers for the Gurkhas! Three Cheers for Joanna Lumley!
Here's a simple message to the thick-skulled self-interested mediocrities who are collecting their ministerial salaries and other perks in this country:

Give every honourably discharged Gurkha British citizenship. Give them the same pensions as their British oppos. They and their predecessors have served our Queen and Country since 1814 and have thereby earned the right and our thanks and respect. It dishonours you that these proud and noble soldiers have to protest and litigate for rights that certain Britophobic minorities whom you have cultivated assiduously take for granted.

Right. Get back to reversing the changes you introduced from 1997 onwards but discovered didn't actually work. There's no need to tell the truth because no-one expects that any more from your lot. Dismissed.

These picture links will help you understand. Good. Bad.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

That Titantic Simile

"Rearranging the deckchairs on the Titantic" must be used at least as often as "The elephant in the room" in articles about the Brown Sunday Pub League in the Local Park ship (it is that far away from Premiership) and why not as Barry Norman never said.
However, to be accurate, one should be aware that the deckchair facilities are in fact owned and managed by a separate company, Sidonia, under a public private financing partnership and that any requests for changes to the agreed seating arrangements would incur a substantial relocation fee. In addition, as Sidonia negotiated a thirty-five year increase only lease contract (with bonus payments for ensuring 95% of passengers who wanted to sit down could do so within a week) with the Titanic owners, rental payments would still be liable even though the deckchairs were two and a half miles under the North Atlantic. And we won't tell anyone about the missing deckchairs unless relatives of missing passengers who were sitting on them ask embarrassing questions in public.
Of course half the crew of the Titantic would always be on a compulsary diversity workshop and the other half would not have received health and safety training to operate the lifeboats (even if the company could afford to launch them - well if you wanted seaworthy lifeboats why didn't you sign up for the Saviorlife Platinum service?)

Should Gordon Brown Create A People's Court To Quell Dissent In Nulabor?

Following the establishment of islamic sharia courts across England, rumour has it that Gordon Brown is considering establishing a People's Court to sentence Labour Party Members guilty of the anti-Nulabor crime of Wehrkraftzersetzung ("disintegration of defensive capability") or disagreeing with him.
Once he has completed his anger management course, John Prescott would be a suitable candidate for the post previously held by Roland Freisler in Germany between 1942-45. Any MP found guilty of crimes against Nulabor would be defended at their subsequent trial by the Deputy Party Leader, Harriet Harman, to ensure the sentence passed by the court would be a fair deterrent to any other conspirators. With a 100% conviction rate the scheme may be extended to non-Party members for serious crimes like failing to carry a voluntary ID or thinking the EU, windmills, carbon trading and uneconomic recycling are wrong.
Now is the time for the enemies of the Arbeiterpartei to be smashed like mobiles against the skirting board.

Battle of Britain Day Wings Appeal

What a good decision HRH Prince William has made to train as an RAF SAR pilot next year. There will be vacancies in 2010 as UK based crews are posted to Afghanistan to fly transport helicopters.
It will be interesting to see whether he willl fly SAR modified Merlins or Silorsky S-92s (like HM Coastguard). Although the the nearly fifty year old Sea King design has performed suberbly during its service career, it would be ironic if Prince William were to fly the same type (albeit a different mark) that his Uncle, the Duke of York, flew twenty-six years ago during the Falklands War.
Anyway, please click on the photo of the Spitfire or Hurricane to link you to the RAFA's Wings Appeal.

Monday, 15 September 2008

VAT And the "Free" House Insulation

Just as HMRC takes 17.5% VAT on flood damage repairs so it charges VAT (abeit at a reduced rate of 5%) on house insulation work. So whatever the weather the Taxman wins!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Scientists Announce Creation Of A Brown Hole

Astrophysicists today revealed that a collapsed minor star known as a brown hole* has been discovered in the Downing Street arm of the SW1 galaxy. Large amounts of recently created money are being sucked in only to instantly vanish from sight. Several previously untracked red dwarves close by have momentarily appeared from the blackness of unexplored space to be disintegrated by the brooding mass provisionally named Brown Sub-Prime 2007-2008.
The existence of the brown hole may explain why the Universe has stopped expanding for the first time since Big Bang.
Asked to comment on the phenonema, the British Prime Minister stated that he had looked through the telescope, had seen nothing and was getting on with the job that hard working British families, pensioners expected him to do at a time of high fuel and food prices prices and and and and and and and ......

* So called because theorists postulate that whereas black holes may have an exit into another universe, once anything is swallowed by a brown hole it's in the shit for good.

A Lesson From History For Gordon Brown

The events of the past few days, weeks and months brings to mind the Norway Debate on 7 and 8 May 1940 in the House of Commons which is still its Finest Hour.

Two soundbites from the debate, as we now call them, resonate across the decades to call Gordon Brown's brief and unsuccessful premiership to an end with the same impact they had on that of Neville Chamberlain's.

"You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!" Leo Amery MP

"It is not a question of who are the Prime Minister's friends. It is a far bigger issue. … He has appealed for sacrifice. The nation is prepared for every sacrifice so long as it has leadership. … I say solemnly that the Prime Minister should give an example of sacrifice because there is nothing which can contribute more to victory in this war than that he should sacrifice the seals of office." David Lloyd George MP

Sometimes it takes more courage to retire than to stay. Why doesn't Gordon Brown read a few of his books and do the decent thing?

Friday, 12 September 2008

A Cynical Thought

After dishing the dirt on Ivan Lewis in the Mail on Sunday for saying off-message things about Our Dear Leader, are the Brownies behind this story in today's Daily Mail that links to popular Keith Vaz? What wrong did he do to deserve it?

Gordon Broon's Insulation Wheeze

Our Dear Leader has produced a sustainable alternative to fibreglass wool or beads to insulate your cavities and lofts:

Apply in 30 cm thick layers or as much as you can get while stocks last at the warehouse. Also suitable for mixing with kitchen waste to produce excellent compost to replace those parts of your garden washed away by the floods.

Things To Do On Gardening Leave If It's Too Wet To Mow The Lawn

Number 1:

Join the Uganda Police Force. It has a strength of some 36,000 male and female officers and the full range of specialist departments that are needed by any modern police force to carry out its duties effectively. As the Uganda Police Force Mission Statement states:
"It is the mission of the Uganda Police Force to safeguard the lives and property of the people we serve, to reduce the incidence and fear of crime, and to enhance public safety while working with the diverse communities to improve their quality of life. Our mandate is to do so with honor and integrity, while at all times conducting ourselves with the highest ethical standards to maintain public confidence."

Image copyright Martin Grieve, 21 December 2007, from the FOTW Flags Of The World website at

Certainly a better way to pass the time than sudoku and daytime television.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Did Gordon Brown Send Kim Jong-il A Get Well Soon Card?

Kim Jong-il (elected)

Gordon Brown (unelected)

Or was it done by a well-meaning mobile-dodging minion without his knowledge? "Oh no, you fool, why did you send him that one of a grey teddy bear in a hospital bed?" "Do I have to do everything, dumkopf!"

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

I've Had An Idea That Might Work

And make the country a better place. When I was in the Civil Service I either did jobs or knew of jobs that in all honesty were unnecessary but had always been there or were not that vital. The sort of job that was vital to whoever did it of course but which the rest of the building would not really bother about if a flood swept in and out scouring away all trace of the work that had been done in that section.
And an awful lot of people are square pegs in round holes, wasting much effort and potential happiness in an attempt to beat the moronic bell-curve staff performance appraisal assessment. They are bright and capable, know how to use the photocopier and don't fall off swivel chairs very often. But they are doing jobs they hate simply because of the mortgage and the fact they needn't heat the house while they are at work.
Digressing, using a staff assessment system that expects that 10% of staff are unsatisfactory simply indicates that HR and management are close to 100% useless at recruiting the right people for the right jobs and ensuring they are properly trained and motivated.
Now everybody can think of jobs that need to be done to improve the country and make people feel safer, happier and healthier. My proposal is that suggestion boxes are set up all over the country and a website established to allow people to send in their ideas for work that needs doing. After six months the suggestions could be examined and refined into business plans. Civil Servants would then be offered the opportunity to transfer from their present posts to do the tasks identified. They would work in association with local champions to ensure that demand and inspiration was always grass-roots driven.
The idea needs additional work regarding transitional arrangements and funding etc but a rule of thumb is that most things can be achieved with eager people knowing they are helping others.
As this is a creative idea I won't publish negative criticism until we've thought of plenty of ideas how to put the plan into practice. No need to get too detailed - that's what Civil Servants are for!
Only when we can see the big picture will I begin to investigate the concept logically.
Oh and anyone who says that we have too many civil servants and that they don't work hard will be ignored and instructed to ponder on the first class brains of the private sector banking and finance industries begging for public handouts after blowing their clients' money on punts that hen parties at the dogs wouldn't consider. Remember that the IT data losses have mostly been down to private-sector contractors. Finally, the civil service implements what the politicians decide. And who lobbies and funds the political parties? Private companies wanting influence.

Large Hadron Collider

I'm not going to comment on the Large Hardon Collider except to say I hope Gordon Brown doesn't send a letter of encouragement to its British team members - no need to worry about bog awful weather or the credit crunch if the curse of Jonah helps create a black hole on Wednesday.
I can't wait for the Horizon programme about the results although I predict that a new, very small particle will be discovered to upset all the carefully crafted theories. It will be dubbed the miliband because it came out of nowhere and is both useless and annoying.
But when the first schedule of experiments are completed I bags the collider to test on a large scale something I and my mates last attempted some 35 or so years ago. The Dinky or Corgi collision experiment was great when we slammed cars into each other head on in the playground. But a million mile an hour closing speed would produce brilliant telly with all the bits flying off - and repeating the exercise with Airfix kits dowsed with flaming lighter fuel is BAFTA worthy- beat that Top Gear.
Did I grow up? Probably not, but I had more fun than those kids who never played with their toys and kept the boxes in mint condition (boxes of all sorts were cannibalised to make garages, space-stations or whatever ) to be sold for silly sums at auction.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

2012 Olympic Spendathon

I submitted an e-petition to the 10 Downing Street website last week and received the following nonsense this morning:


I'm sorry to inform you that your petition has been rejected. Your petition was classed as being in the following categories:
* Wording that is impossible to understand
Further information: Your title should be a clear call for action, preferably starting with a verb, and not a name or statement. If you wish to edit and resubmit your petition, please follow the following link:
You have four weeks in which to do this, after which your petition will appear in the list of rejected petitions.

Your petition reads:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to: 'Ensure that the Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games, The Rt Hon. The Lord Coe KBE, the Chairman of the British Olympics Association, The Rt Hon. The Lord Moynihan, and the Minister for the Olympics and Paralympics, The Rt Hon. Tessa Jowell MP, will be jointly and severally responsible for any monies in excess of the public expenditure budget for the London 2012 Olympics confirmed by The Rt Hon. Tessa Jowell MP on 10 December 2007.'

This petitition will encourage proper financial accountability and rigour for a major public project at a time of unprecedented global economic hardship for hard-working British families. The three key decision makers named in the petition will be incentivised to make prudent long term decisions with other people's money.

-- the ePetitions team

Impossible to understand or the Establishment standing firm to prevent their own kind being surcharged for overspending the little people's money?

Miserable Stoat Loses In Straight Sets

Despite beating the unlovely Spaniard Nadal (get some sleeves, por favor) the uber unnlovely Andrew Murray lost most convincingly against the ever sportsmanlike Roger Federer. Well done Roger, five-in-a-row winner of the US Open Men's Singles Championships.
Murray has allegedly made it quite clear that he values winning the US Open above Wimbledon (must be the All-England bit), is Scottish first before British and has no regard for England. So why on earth do the BBC persist in their attempt to get English people to support him? He will never match the affection that Jeremy Bates and Tim Henman stirred in the hearts of English tennis fans. We knew deep down they wouldn't win yet their annual ephemeral successes followed by depressing failures on the holy sward of SW19 accorded them champion status in the English pantheon of decent chaps who tried hard but were never quite good enough on the day.

Why The Left Attack Sarah Palin

Because they have read the wikipedia entry on Senator Joseph Biden . He has been a senator for Delaware since 1973 and a lawyer and county councillor before that. So confident is Senator Biden of becoming the first Roman Catholic Veep that he is continuing with his Delaware Senatorship re-election campaign just in case.
Isn't there an old poker saying that one should always stake high when one has weak cards?

Potting On Clematis Cuttings

I took advantage of the good weather this morning to pot on the twenty or so clematis cuttings that I took about six weeks ago. The cuttings were from semi-ripe material measuring about 2.5 inches below a leaf node. I trimmed the leaves, put a couple of inch long shallow vertical cuts into the lower end and dipped the cutting into hormone rooting gel, tapping off the surplus before placing four cuttings around the edge of three inch pots filled with a mix of 50:50 seed and cutting compost and horticultural grit. I gave the pots a good watering with rainwater then put freezer bags over them to create a micro climate, securing with postman's rubber bands. They then went in the greenhouse. I checked the pots every fortnight for rot and rooting from the base, turned the bags inside out and blew into them to boost carbon dioxide and resecured them over the pots. Anyway, today the roots were poking through the pot holes so I put the well rooted cuttings into 6 inch pots with cutting compost and drainage crocks and split bamboos to climb up. another good watering and back into the greenhouse for growing on.
I believe the hard knocks I have experienced in my life have made me better qualified to propagate clematis. Tomorrow I'm taking lavatera cuttings. Like Gordon Brown I'm getting on with the job. But I've got sixteen young clematis plants thriving and he's got Ed Balls and David Miliband. Two words pal: compost heap.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Any Palaeologists Out There?

Did the Stone Age end when a group of shamans looked at the liver of a sacrificed goat on the stone altar and unanimously stated "To prevent another Ice Age you must stop using flint and instead make all your tools and weapons from bronze which doesn't anger the weather gods."

Governor Palin And Creationism

Well if she wants to believe that she can. However, just as using 22/7 as an approximation for pi is only good as far as rough carpentry, so creation stories from whichever religion are little use when studying biology at any academic level. To anyone who is prepared to look with their eyes open the evidence for evolution by natural selection is abundantly available.
As I said at the start of this post, people can believe in creationism and intelligent design if they wish but if America wants to avoid being Sputniked again, it should not grant religious stories the same status in schools and universities as rigorously examined scientific theories.

IPCC Chief Says Go Vegetarian And Save The World From Climate Change

Rajendra Pachauri, a vegetarian, will tell normal people tomorrow to eat less meat because cows (which aren't eaten in India, just used as extremely efficient sources of inefficient and smoky fuel pats) produce methane which is 23 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide, although clouds of dihydrogen monoxide molecules also cause global warming.
A word to the wise, Dr Pachauri: the population of the Republic of India in 1947 was about 345 million; today it is about 1.132 billion. Might the increased population around the world have affected global temperatures and sustainability more than the naughty aid-providing capitalist West?

Saturday, 6 September 2008

England 2008

What's the connection between these two stories A and B ? That's right, they could only happen in England. I don't like the country ****ed up by NuLab anymore but it was and is my country and I loved it. And did the lawyer in question receive life-threatening and disabling injuries?
As an aside to the second story, a week or so after 7/7 it was decided to hold a practice evacuation of the JobCentre in case a similar thing was tried again -as it was on 21/7. At a meeting of volunteer floor wardens I ventured the suggestion that the public should be advised that the evacuation was an exercise in case, as I phrased it, some of our neanderthal customers took it upon themselves to bring down extract from the building any bmes wearing rucksacks in a selfless action of misplaced courage. Subsequently the Building Manager informed me that another member had staff had taken exception to the term neanderthal, that she had never heard of but assumed it referred to muslims or south asians. To prevent a formal complaint being lodged I would have to apologise in person to all staff present at the meeting who might have been offended. Let's say I was shocked, stunned and utterly demoralised. I didn't want to work with ****ing idiots for colleagues. So if there are any neanderthals reading this, may I say that I respect, value and celebrate your community and the way it adds diversity to Britain. Needless to say, the day after 21/7, the Met got over-excited and shot Mr de Menezes seven times in the head on the tube. If only the unfortunate Brazilian had learned the phrase beloved by management "watch your back" he too would be as safe as those responsible.