Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A Good Cause To Support: The Lymphoma Association

BBC Radio 4 is one of the few remaining great things about Britain I listen a lot to Radio 4, only avoiding the too-often depressing Sour Women and You and Yoursadlife. Its news and continuity announcers manage to sound professional and homely at the same time and their voices become part of the furniture.
When I heard that Rory Morrison had been diagnosed with a rare blood cancer and that his fellow announcers had set up a fund for The Lymphoma Association I thought that was a practical way to repay the pleasure I had derived over the years from, for example, Charlotte Green's giggles and her attempts to regain her composure.
And for more fun and laughs go to the Ramblings website where you can hear a special programme entitled Pilgrimage to the Pips, ie Herstmonceaux from where the BBC obtained its famous time signal pips. Many of the announcers shared the walk with Clare Balding and Rory Morrison whilst a few had to stay behind in the studio to keep Radio 4 and thereby the nation up and running.
Best wishes and good health to Rory Morrison and his family. Thank you to all of the Radio 4 news and continuity announcers.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Here's something easy for Jacquie Smith to sort out on Monday morning

thanks to the BBC for the lovely photo of a lovely family

Give Mrs Samantha Crozier British citizenship now so she can live in Britain with her British husband and children. She's a Canadian married to a British soldier and lived in Canada and Germany where L/Cpl Crozier was stationed with the REME. That means she has to leave the UK and apply from Canada. The rule is meant to protect the immigration system from abuse. Ha! Anyone who believes that is as simple as Harriet Harman's password*. If a rule is stupid change it.

Just pretend she has no links to this country, speaks no English and is the fourth wife of a terrorist and so can use the Human Rights Act. There, that wasn't difficult.

Yay! Small wins! Now to choose which biscuit to have first with my first cup of tea.....
* it wasn't "password".

World Food Crisis: Religion and Ignorance

The peerless Dr Richard North of EUReferendum has the (almost) definitive post on the subject. Here and here and also here.

Population is the elephant in the greengrocers despite the best efforts of many people to pander to ignorance and superstition by ignoring what a massive factor it is. So food production has increased in line with population growth, but only with massive use of oil for tractors and fertilizers.
Apparently, the big factor is the increasing wealth of China and India with many of their citizens now wanting more meat in their diets. I don't blame them turning away from vegetarianism. Hopefully, as people get richer, family sizes will shrink and world population will stabilise or decrease. But how much easier matters would be if contraception was more freely available and women were better educated and baby girls equally valued. All these things are anathema to buttoned up religious bigots who sadly don't mind how long a child lives so long as they can chalk another soul up for the afterlife.
Now, the Chinese one child policy worked but at the expense of a large population imbalance in favour of boys for cultural reasons. I am worried that the Chinese government might use this "surplus" of cannon fodder for warlike purposes if food, water and oil get even more scarce.
All we can hope for is for more and more people to think and act for themselves as equally valuable individuals. Otherwise, the world is stuffed, hot or cold.

HRH Prince William

Should Prince William's outstanding, albeit brief, career in the RAF be officially recognised with the award of the Queen's Commendation For Valuable Service (Air) or should he just be allowed to keep the Air Miles?

I Used To Work With A Chap Like This No2

Another born again baptist making an atheist's life a misery. This time in the US Army. Excellent posting and comments on this blog.
Thomas Jefferson and the other geniuses who drafted the United States' constitution had nutters like the mad Major in mind when they separated Church and State. If only England could do the same thing by distablishing the Church of England* and bring herself into the eighteenth century.

*Actually, the CofE is pretty high up on the sensible, reasonable, say no to bigotry and ignorant literal understanding of an anthology of stories gathered together by committees upwards of fifteen hundred odd years ago.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Black Squirrels

Apparently, they're taking over from greys in Norfolk. This is what their Russian cousins can do.
Let's hope they don't mate with Killer Bees.
Social Worker Bitten By Rabid Dog. Is this one of the benefits of immigration and globalisation to the UK? By checking the websites of very worthy charities like Dog's Trust, it seems that the UK is self-sufficient in stray dogs and doesn't need to import them.
Anyway, best wishes for a speedy recovery to all the people who were bitten and hard luck because the treatment is particularly painful apparently.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

The World Food Shortage

Thank goodness John Prescott has been cured of bulimia.

If Only It Was Painted In The Cells

"Your tie please. And your belt and shoe laces, Mr Blair. You are aware that you may be held for up to 28 days to enable us to have a really good look into what you've been doing. We rang your lawyer but apparently she's on a talking tour somewhere for the next week. Please complete your breakfast choices on the card in your cell before 9pm."
And how ordinary British citizens are treated in this keystone police state. Thank goodness our police aren't armed .

Some Good News

The job of counting the votes for local councils in Wales and much of England and the London Mayoral election has not been awarded under compulsory competitive tendering rules to Smith Institute Electoral Services (Harare) Ltd.
So stay out of mobile phone flinging range of Our Dear Leader on May 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 ......

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

St George's Day: England and Patriotism

“By patriotism I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force upon other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.” George Orwell.

Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, decent beer, mowing the lawn, crosswords, a cup of tea, friendly robins, talking about the weather, cooked breakfasts, saying sorry if someone knocks into one. Just a few of the millions of things that I love about England that make me English.

And our lawn. Needs a bit of scarifying and aerating in parts, but I learned to ride a bicycle on it, had games of garden cricket and tennis on it, played with the dogs on it. There's undoubtedly better and bigger stretches of grass elsewhere in the world but it's good enough. Just please don't tell us what we may or must do with it, thank you very much. Find your own bit.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008



Is this a portent of Brown's departure?

Anyway, here's a pot of tulips I'm pleased with. I'll plant them in the ground in front of the euphorbias later this year for an interesting display next year.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Financial Questions

Jack of Fairytaleland asks:

"I swapped our cow for a handful of magic beans and now my mother is scolding me for acquiring something of dubious value? Can I exchange the magic beans for Gilts to prevent a collapse in the agricultural industry?"

Unfortunately, the offer is only open to greedy shortsighted bankers who have paid themselves massive bonuses the past few years for being so clever. Who lent The Old Woman with no income the money to buy a shoe? You are not a banker and so are not clever and don't deserve this £50 billion or the £50 billion made available to shore up Northern Rock. You are probably one of those 5.3 million people for whom the 10p tax band was an important part of their household budget so you don't matter. If you think you do you must be living in Fairytaleland.

Climate Change or Gordon Brown: The Reason For The Rotten Weather We've Had

Someone once wrote of someone else (there goes my chance of appearing on "Quote, Unquote") "the room lit up when he left ". How appropriate in the context of Our Dear Leader who appears to have as many tatties on his shoulders as Prescott has chips. Indeed as the great P G Wodehouse wrote "It is seldom difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman and a ray of sunshine".

Having carefully researched weather over England since Gordon Brown mugabed power on 27 June 2007, I can now reveal with the certainty of the IPCC (motto: "we're right, you're evil and wrong") that the climate in England has changed to "variously awful" from "well that's the weather for you". After experimenting with floods, drizzle, snow, cold, damp to find the ideal conditions for misery and damp tweed, the next stage will be the release of millions of midges* to turn England into a paradise for salt and porridge loving colonists.

* allegedly the only creatures in Scotland with teeth as they feast on blud instead of Irn Bru and Teacakes

John Prescott Ate My Country

I remember back in 1997 when Captain John Prescott came aboard the yawl DETR moored on the Thames alongside Whitehall. He had decided to introduce himself and what the New Labour Government (for everything was in capitals then) was going to do to the UK via the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (a big job for a big man). Unfortunately, despite the Department's title the meeting with staff was held in London for London staff only so the rest of the mob in the sticks made do with a video.

I remember very little of the video except one awkward scene near the end. A PCS rep and Labour activist was evidently still full of May day champagne bubbles and he obviously believed the times they were a changin'. So he began his question: "John," - "It's Secretary of State to you" shot back the Deputy Prime Minister. Such people skills, such a nice man.

Anyway, it soon became clear that Prescott couldn't integrate transport or do anything so his jobs were gradually but secretly downsized to match his abilities until he was made Croquet Tsar after an embarrassing affair with his secretary during working hours on government property apparently.

And the "Ate My Country" reference. Well, Nulab wanted English Regional Assemblies to cut England down to Celtic size. In Prescott's hands the referendum (oh we do have them when the Government wants them) in the North East - the most Labour dependent area in England - flopped on a Prescottian scale.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

A Really Useful Aeroplane Website.

I stumbled across the Virtual Aircraft Museum the other day. Really interesting to see the number of prototypes that were built in the golden age because of the difficulty of upscaling wind-tunnel data and carrying out complex mathematical modelling. Computers (then that was a job title) have made things ... I was going to say easier .... differently difficult. Certainly the art has been entirely replaced by science.

Anyway, check out the designs produced by France in the late forties, fifties and sixties. And there's always the great British classics to savour when every other hangar seemed to be a prototype shed.

A bit of plane spotting from the site with thanks:

A Belated Happy Patriots' Day America And Thank You

Here's what I think of the United States of America and the American People.

The great Jim Reeves, Texan and American to his velvet core, summed it up pretty well I think.

Of course, one man's patriot is another man's rebel but 1775 is a long time ago now and at least you almost speak the same language :-) ... and because you are you, America.

Francoise Hardy

I found that listening to French music and watching French films helped get my ear in to understand spoken French better when studying for my French O Level many years ago. Plus, French films on the telly then tended to have more nudity (because French=artistic less was censored presumably). Quite an important reason when you're sixteen.

Anyway, ecoutez et repetez as we used to say. First, La maison ou j'ai grandi:

Next, Tous les Garcons et les Filles:

So,hopefully, you'll now go and buy lots of Francoise Hardy CDs, DVDs and MP3 downloads.

I got a B grade by the way.

The 10p Tax Band Problem

If Gordon does allow anything to contradict his infallible direction of the economy, it will be to widen the scope of Working Tax Credits to under-25s. He doesn't like to go backwards and he has no wish to simplify matters. Besides, the cynics in the Treasury will know that relatively few people will claim WTCs because of the fuss so the costs will be minimal, but the PR is good: photo-op of Gordon next to young, hard-working , diverse Britons with WTCs.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

European Constitution/Treaty Number 2,334

Another Thing From Europe We Didn't Vote For but got anyway. How did global warming or climate change as it's called when you have to wear an extra pullover cause this?

Scottish Cat-Strangling Myth Deflated

The windy wailing of the dreadful bagpipes (reason enough for both sides to open fire in wartime) is a recent Mock Jock invention from the days when all things Scottish were thought fashionable by the German Queen Victoria and her German husband Prince Albert according to a new book written by a Scotsman. They weren't invented by the Scots.

Mind you, Scottish bagpipes sound nice in Edinburgh. It's just they don't travel well. Northumbrian pipes are much more my cup of tea.

Next myth to be disproved: Scottish bankers and financial types are wise with your money.

Gordon Brown's Purple Heart Again

Gordon has an idea to recognise wounded servicemen and women with a British award based on the American Purple Heart medal. But did he think of it while he was in Washington this week or last year?

Is it true his security service codename is allegedly Purple Helmet (to reflect his senior command responsibility).

Hasn't Gordon ever read about Wound Stripes that were certainly awarded during WWI and WWII?

How about introducing several meaningful ways of showing how much the nation values its service people?

1. MRAP vehicles to replace all snatch Landrovers, WMIKs and Vectors to reduce the number of killed and badly injured;

2. More helicopters to provide enhanced casevac capability and replace land-based patrols where necessary;

3. Longer times between deployments to enable units to recover and retrain and, most importantly, spend time with their families. This and 4. below will encourage experienced service personnel to stay on;

4. Improve the quality of housing stock;

5. Introduce positive discrimination for injured service personnel in all civil service and local-government recruitment;

6. The MoD should negotiate affiliation discounts with shops, cinemas, restaurants, sports facilities etc;

7. What other things will Quentin Davis think of?

Friday, 18 April 2008

The Lives Of Others

Great film. In German but excellent English subtitles. It's set in East Germany in 1984 and the Stasi are doing their infamous stuff on a playwright at the behest of a Government Minister.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Mr Broon Goes Ta Washington

Our PM has arrived in the former American Colonies for a three day visit. For security reasons, no doubt, it clashes with the Pope's concurrent jolly. Whom should George W cosy up to most? Mmm, election in November, large Catholic vote would help the Republican candidate, Senator McCain. How many socially dysfunctional Scottish wee-free voters are there? So it's the Eggs and Dubya show.

Now Gordon travelled to the US in a Boeing 757. Owned by the Royal Air Force, British Airways or Virgin Airways? No, a new kid on the block, Titan Airways of Stansted. If the British taxpayer was flying me across the Atlantic I would be delighted to fly Titan. It looks a very decent outfit. But not quite the plane to ferry our subprime minister with that paintjob.
Anyway let's have an aeroplane photo courtesy of the Daily Mail:

The paint scheme is very popular with Ulster Unionists apparently.

But I have a bone to pick with our prudent PM. Why couldn't an operational RAF aircraft have been used instead? Something with relatively high speed, transatlantic range and occasional passenger-carrying capability? Ladies and gentlemen, the Nimrod MR2:

Why did the Irishman carry a pig under his arm?

Because he didn't want to lose it in Terminal 5.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Let's rename our armoured patrol vehicles after defence ministers

Following the recent avoidable death of two RAF Regiment Troopers in Afghanistan, (the EUreferendum Defence website is nulli secundus on this subject) I suggest that the vehicles issued to them are renamed.

The Snatch Landrover should become the Hoon.

The Pinzgauer Vector should become the Dr Reid

"We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years and without firing one shot because our job is to protect the reconstruction."

The Landover WMIK should be renamed the DesBrowne or DesPerate.

Perhaps the Supa M WMIK could be an Ingram.

Meanwhile, the new Mastiff, Ridgeback and Bulldog should be named after holders of gallantry awards.

And let's rename these vehicles Blairs:

photo with thanks to the Daily Mail and deepest respect to the heroes therein and their families.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Two Cheers For Prince William

Well, he was awarded his RAF Flying Badge today at RAF Cranwell by his father. Congratulations are due to him for learning to fly single-engine fixed and rotary wing aircraft to a basic standard. He followed an accelerated and bespoke syllabus lasting four months consisting of ground schooling and intensive flying on Tutor, Tucano and Squirrel aircraft.
Starting with this, this is how an ordinary fast jet or helicopter student would earn their wings.

Now, I'm not criticising Prince William. His flying training has put him well ahead of recently qualified PPL holders and I hope he maintains his proficiencies and gains a multi-engine licence for example. And he has accumulated vastly more hours than most WWI pilots and even some in the desperate Summer of 1940. But, like John Fricker wrote in the most recent editions of Aeroplane Monthly (probably available in the RAF Officers' Mess at Cranwell), I consider he ought to have been awarded the Preliminary Flying Badge (Pilot) instead. No-one in the know would think any the less of him. Indeed, he would have had as much of an insight into the RAF if he had qualified for a Rear Aircrew or Fighter Controller brevet for example.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Serious Fraud Office Unlawfully Ended Saudi Arms Deal Probe

And how else, pray, does one do business with Arab Governments without plenty of baksheesh?(Guess who coined that word). I would like to see an end to the the arms trade as well but selling weapons abroad helps subsidize the development and production costs for our armed forces and so is a good thing. Furthermore selling arms to the Arab world brings back some of the money spent on oil and is excellent for ongoing maintentenance contractors because sand wrecks machinery quicker (think of sandpaper) despite all that oil nearby and the average Arab Prince thinks it infra-dig to do anything except fly the kites. So if things get tight, call the mechanics home and wait for the aircraft to seize-up and fall apart.

Well, Can We Go Home Now?

Apparently, the Iraqi Government snubbed British forces in Basra Province by requesting American reinforcements for its bogged down assault on Basra despite 4,000 odd British troops being kept at Basra Airport for that purpose.

Fine. I am in favour of protecting British lives. One Hundred and Seventy-Six British Service Personnel have lost their lives in Iraq since the 2003 invasion and many more wounded. 176 lives cut short because apparently God told Tony Blair it would be A Good Idea to go along with his fellow God-Botherer George W. and don't worry about the truth if it gets in the way - have faith instead. I am not surprised that the New Iraqi Army is having problems with a mob of assault rifle and RPG equipped religious nutters. The basic unit of Arab military power is the armed rabble. Excellent for asymmetric hit and run guerrilla warfare as T E Lawrence discovered. Hopeless against a modern well-equipped army in conventional warfare as the IDF is eternally grateful. The problem is is that Arab guerrillas are not bound by any Western Rules of War so siting rocket launchers in a residential neighbouhood or sniping from a mosque is perfectly ok because they are Muslims and we are Infidels. Playing by their rules is not an option because we have our own values and there are always more than enough lefties ready to point out our faults than highlight those of our enemy.

Rudyard Kipling put it so well:

Arithmetic on the Frontier

A GREAT and glorious thing it is
To learn, for seven years or so,
he Lord knows what of that and this,
Ere reckoned fit to face the foe—
The flying bullet down the Pass,
That whistles clear: “All flesh is grass.”

Three hundred pounds per annum spent
On making brain and body meeter
For all the murderous intent
Comprised in “villanous saltpetre!”
And after—ask the Yusufzaies
What comes of all our ’ologies.

A scrimmage in a Border Station—
A canter down some dark defile—
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail—
The Crammer’s boast, the Squadron’s pride,
Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

No proposition Euclid wrote,
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow
Strike hard who cares—shoot straight who can—
The odds are on the cheaper man.

One sword-knot stolen from the camp
Will pay for all the school expenses
Of any Kurrum Valley scamp
Who knows no word of moods and tenses,
But, being blessed with perfect sight,
Picks off our messmates left and right.

With home-bred hordes the hillsides teem,
The troop-ships bring us one by one,
At vast expense of time and steam,
To slay Afridis where they run.
The “captives of our bow and spear”
Are cheap—alas! as we are dear.

There is a simple military saying "Never reinforce failure." The Iraq Invasion was a textbook example of how to win a war with minimal casualties and damage. By no stretch of objective imagination can the Iraq Occupation be described a success or even a noble failure. The Iraqi football team won the Asian Cup in 2007. Let us take that as the one positive thing to result from Tony Blair's misadventure and call the Dardanelles Evacuation files up from archives. A good plan is needed.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Gordon Brown Has A New Helper

Ex-BBC producer Nicola Burdett has been hired (presumably with some of that old 10p tax rate money that pensioners and poorer workers bought food with but which has now been snaffled by HMG) to ensure that our popular Premier will avoid the presentational gaffes such as tucking his trouser legs into socks, orange bindis, swastika websites and the nigh impossible to stop nose-picking that he has become famous for - yeah, apart from the thousand years of unparalleled growth and prosperity.

I looked into pay rates for similar jobs and it would appear that Ms Burdett will be taking a sizeable salary cut. Still, it's a good job for people who want to make a difference. I applaud her public-spiritedness.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Snow April 6 2008

Well there goes global warming!

Here's some photos of the garden taken about 9:00 am. The thaw is accelerating now so I expect it will be all gone by 1-2:00 pm.
The washing line with roof to scale!


Strawberry bed with frog pond in background

South East facing border completely unaffected

Looking SSE across a lawn towards a birdbath. I'd planted some dwarf azaleas and rhodendrons to the left of the photo a few days previously.

Snow thawing rapidly from the greenhouse roof.

Post The Hundredth

For this landmark I just wish to say that today I have mostly been clearing trash and straw from the strawberry bed in between showers. It's excellent stuff for the compost bin mixed with short grass cuttings. My technique is to grab the trash and straw with one's hands (wearing rubber work gloves in case of straw cuts or spider bites) rather in the manner of a grazing animal. The strawberry plants don't mind a bit of rough treatment this time of year.

Anyway, I'll be reducing the strawberry bed to a more convenient size - ie fruit able to be picked from the edges and the bed covered with netting to discourage birds. (I don't mind birds taking a few but they tend to peck a few holes in several instead of finishing one). My adjacent old bath frog pond protects the plants and fruit from slugs.

Annual Grand National Bet

Well, this year for the first time I placed my bets online via Betfair. I can't see the point of free half-length biros at the bookies anymore. So after registering and depositing money in my acount I placed £2.50 each way bets on six horses. These were picked by aggregating the tips in todays Times and Daily Mail and picking the top six. The National, being run over jumps for 4 miles is a wide open race so form plays a lesser role to luck on the day. One thing I always say afterwards is that each way bets are a bad strategy and today proved me right again (but I'm a once a year ultra cautious punter). So, although I picked the winner (by backing six out of forty horses) I only made £2.66 net. But I didn't lose. I've caught the racing bug and will be back in 2009! And the Grand National is about the only English National sporting event held outside London and the South East so I like it even more.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Gordon And His New Friends

With thanks to Iain Dale for posting this.

Gordon is hosting a summit on Saturday 5 April. Does the logo remind you of anything?

Oh silly me, it must be the New Nazi Party. Will there be whipping afterwards?

Update 23:27 the website has been locked to non-Party members. Doubtless everything will be lovely tomorrow and none of this ever happened.
Was Gordon attempting to share some of the Prince Harry good PR - oops wrong picture?
Update 4 April The logo has been amended/denazified to reflect the nature of the delegates' thinking - it looks like nothing in particular. I'm glad the summit is being held at the Grove Hotel instead of Wannsee - maybe that's next year.
I just remembered an old post about an excellent book called The Wages of Destruction.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

A Modest Proposal For Our Armed Forces

They should be remodelled along the lines of the United States Marine Corps. No I don't mean short haircuts and hooraa and things Americans like but an arrangement that sets interservice rivally, empire building and buggins turn aside in favour of a self-contained organisation that is able to fufill the tasks set for it by a joint defence-foreign affairs committee. The Army/Royal Marines should not depend on the RAF or Fleet Air Arm to provide helicopter support for example and Joint Helicopter Command is a step in the right direction. But the helicopters have to fight for their budget within the services against fighter aircraft, tanks and frigates for example.

Perhaps the Canadian Forces (with the services keeping their traditions, uniforms and ranks) could be studied as well.

It used to be called Combined Operations. But that was then and history has to be forgotten before someone can invent the future.

Well Someone Has An Ethical Foreign Policy

Gordon Brown to welcome Olympic Torch.

Chinese Ambassador pulls out of Olympic Torch carrying.

Good to see that the Middle Kingdom has standards.

New Coin Designs Revealed

Geoff Caddick/PA thanks
They're not to everyone's taste. The logic behind the design is a bit thin. Surely, outlines of the nations would have been more useful. While I appreciate the irony of Scotland being worth tuppence - and Kirkcaldy Laddie James Gordon Brown authorised the designs - I think it wrong that Wales has been forgotten. Why not a penny with a leek on the reverse? And what's wrong with Britannia? Or a Spitfire, and why not have the basalt hexagons of the Giant's Causeway on the 50p?
I wish I'd heard about the competition and not just because of the £35,00 prize money.

The £2 isn't being remodelled - why not?

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Gordon Brown Offers Robert Mugabe A Way Out Of Zimbabwe

A retirement job* in Scone as:

Poster with thanks to Fox Searchlight. A great film by the way.

*Three days a week, £100k salary plus chauffeur-driven car, fully furnished official residence.

No, it looks like Gordon's bottled it again. But best wishes to all Zimbabweans for a peaceful transfer of power. It's up to Africa to ensure it happens.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Jim Sheridan MP - An Apology

For a human being. This Member of Parliament who represents Paisley and Renfrewshire in the House of Commons, has allegedly won the "Ich liebe dich, Mein Fuhrer" competition by suggesting that ex-ministers who criticise Gordon Brown should be "injected with rabies". Gosh, such insight, such reasoned argument. Thankfully, the other Labour MPs at the meeting were bemused, embarrassed and shocked. This is what rabies is. These are the sort of people who might have considered injecting people with rabies. I found this on the BBC news website. I do hope that Mr Sheridan was misheard. If I lived in Paisley and Renfrewshire I would not want someone wishing rabies on any living being representing me.

Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP

Bless, wearing a stab vest on a walkabout in your constituency is "like wearing a hairnet in a meat factory". Except that wearing a hairnet is a hygiene requirement. Or is it that the number of knife murders and assaults in South London have turned it into a meat factory?

Stonehenge Archaeological Dig

The BBC launched an enternews strand or whatever toss they call it about a two week dig at Stonehenge yesterday. This is intended to gather evidence to provide a date of when construction started. Generally people think 2,500 BC. More appropriate is an idea of when the contractors aim to complete it "Waiting for delivery of stones from Wales, can't get blue sarsen anywhere else, mate." I want to know if they find evidence of a log and deerskin conveyor belt system that once stood atop the high stones to bring in items as offerings and remove the burnt remains.
The eminent antiquarian Professor Geoffrey Wainwright told an interviewer that no damage would be done to the site. Once we are finished in two weeks no one could tell we had been here. Well, forgive my cynicism. These archeologists hope to find 4,500 year evidence but they won't leave any trace of their dig. Blimey, Timeteam starts digging and within ten minutes says posthole or ditch because the soil is a slightly different shade.

Heathrow T5 is getting better

Or not getting any worse. Which is good because even schadenfreude loses some of its sparkle after five days. And well done to those airport workers who came into work on their rest day to help with the backlog. I hope you were paid double with time in lieu as well and fingers crossed you won't be made redundant in the next efficiency drive. "Our staff are our most valuable asset" is the clarion call of management who reckon loyalty is a one-way street.

Anyway, I digress from the main purpose of this post which is to say that shopping malls are for shopping and airport terminals are for passengers' comings and goings. I appreciate the bean-counters want the self-loading cargo to buy toblerone, smoked salmon and the stuff that's just been confiscated for security reasons for as long as possible, ideally long enough for them to feel thirsty or hungry or simply bored enough to eat or drink to fill the time, but why not design an airport terminal as a machine for putting people on planes? Cut out the space allocated to the extra-revenue generating concessions and increase the efficiency of the terminal's function.

To argue that the luggage handling system was soooo complicated must have gone down well at Amazon or the Post Office's new sorting centre. It's a series of conveyor belts combined with the tracking and sorting of every piece of luggage. Of course the tests of procedures worked but don't airline pilots rigorously train in simulators those chance in a million events when an engine fails etc? Surely, extra trained staff to enable all or part of Plan B (to give the paying public the impression of things working like the swan swimming gracefully on the surface but with feet splashing madly underwater) to be used until the inevitable gremlins are netted or Plan A is adapted ought to have been temporarily taken on.