Monday, 30 June 2008

I'm sick of this blogging lark

I've been thinking about giving up blogging for a month or so now and the beautiful sunshine outside has helped me decide to pack it in.
I started this blog last year as a bit of fun, a diary that was open to the blogosphere. I've blogged on topics I've been interested in and sometimes I've received comments for which I'm very grateful.
But what pisses me off about the blogosphere is the cliqueyness of it all. I've been different all my life and as a result, despite my best efforts, have suffered ostracism and isolation. I thought that in the darkness of cyberspace all were equal but experience has proved otherwise. If you're not accepted as a protege of the top rank of bloggers then you are out in the cyberwilderness. Theo Spark is a notable exception and I am deeply grateful for his assistance and encouragement. But others, like Mrs Dale, Remittance Man, Laban Tall and EUReferendum either treat my contributions with disdain or fail to give the courtesy of hat tips. I am disappointed by you. I expected more.
I will continue with Gallimaufry & Chips but it will become a private blog on 1 July. I will remain in the public blogosphere as a commenter but under a new nom de plume. To all those whose comments I treasure, good luck and thanks for all the fish.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Snatch Landrover To Be Replaced In Afghanistan

Well it only took dozens of preventable deaths and serious injury before the Army decided to do something according to this report in today's Sunday Telegraph.
I'll be keeping my eye on the Witham-SV site where redundant SAxon APCs have recently turned up.
With the blinkered mindset that ensures promotion in any groupthink organisation, the Army are considering more 6x6 Mastiffs, 4x4 Ridgebacks that weigh about 25 tons and 15 tons respectively to replace the 3.6 ton Snatch. I applaud the desire to procure Rolls-Royce quality but wish it could be combined with Jaguar agility. There are several possible replacements for the Snatch in the 5-6 ton class with Nato Stanag 4569 Level 2 protection like the REVA and RAM2000. Will these be considered?

Alternatively, and most improbably (because they frighten horses), why not procure several squadrons' worth of 4-6 seat helicopters with decent hot and high capability? Very few helicopters have been lost to land mines. And it's safer to carry troops in several small helis than one Chinook/Merlin.

Time To Revive Little England

The term "Little Englander" has had a negative meaning since it was coined during the Second Boer War of 1899-1901. It first mean someone who was against or neutral to the British Empire. However, with the winding up of the Empire and the unfortunate growth of internationalist Socialists and LibDems, the term has been ascribed to patriots and eurosceptics.
That's fine with me as I define myself as an English Patriot and Global Free Trader. The watchword of our foreign policy should be "Mind Your Own Business" and military intervention should be undertaken only where English interests are directly threatened. Otherwise, the age old English skills of trade and compromise ought to be the main weapons in our armoury.
"Mind Your Own Business" also accepts that, although foreigners have many things to be admired, they also have many disagreeable habits. Now, it's all very well to get up on our hind legs and point this out to foreigners but they are seldom grateful to have their deficiencies remarked upon and still less to have them corrected for their own good. So, let's just let them work out their problems themselves. We have done it ourselves several times.
So when you next hear the taunt "Little Englander" , smile genially at the misguided busybody, wave back and return to the crossword or lawn mowing.

Zimbabwe's Stars In Their Eyes: Robert Mugabe Is Max Miller

Photo Howard Burditt/Reuters

"This week Matthew, as well as being voted President, now there's a funny thing, I will be the "Cheeky Chappie" himself, Mr Max Miller." "It's people like you who get me a bad name."
"I got two books, a white book and a black book."

Strawberry Jam Time

Thanks to the weather and scarefrogs we've had a bumper crop of strawberries so I thought that converting yesterday's picking into jam would make a change from "and creme fraiche", "and ice cream" and "mousse".
My recipe:

1 lb 8 oz strawberries, washed and hulled

1 lb 8 oz granulated sugar, warmed for 10 minutes in a 100 degree C oven

juice of one lemon

I put the strawberries and juice in a pan and brought gently up to a boil. Then I added the warmed sugar and stirred until dissolved. When the jam reached 104 degrees C and it passed the test of a teaspoon of jam on a cold saucer wrinkling when I dabbed my finger through it after a minute back in the fridge I let it cool slightly. Next I ladle the jam into jars washed in very hot soapy water, rinsed and then put in the oven for 10 minutes. Don't put lids on until the jam is cold. Eat with homemade scones.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Theo Spark: DML wants to know what this is.....

Theo Spark: DML wants to know what this is.....

But what's this chap?

I've erased the serial to make things more fun.

Et cet homme ?

Friday, 27 June 2008

The Palace of Westminster and Drinking

Here is a spreadsheet of the House of Commons' bars and restaurants with opening hours and who may use them: (click to enlarge)

And here is a spreadsheet showing the amounts of drinks sold in the most recent trading year for which figures are available (2007-2008):
Because the Palace of Westminster is a Royal Palace, the sale of alcohol is not regulated by the Licencing Act 2003. See section 173.
May I extend my thanks to the FOI Team at the House of Commons for the above information.

*I will post a similar item to cover the House of Lords tomorrow as only one post of mine a day is listed by Witanagemot.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Planning In England

Camilla Cavendish (one of the Chatsworth Cavendishes, one wonders) writes a fine piece in today's Times on the nasty piece of Prescottian bullying that is the Planning Bill. I accept that the national or regional need for an airport or road or power station will sometimes result in people's property ownership rights being overruled and their homes compulsorily purchased. But an enforced sale and eviction under compulsory purchase provisions is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone and I write as someone who had to serve notices to treat and enter on people who had lived in their homes for thirty odd years.

People always say, why can't we do things like they do in France: decision in Paris, property value plus 10% paid, job built, high speed train. Six facts:

area: 50,346 sq miles population: 50,762,900 density: 1008 people per square mile

area: 213,010 square miles population: 61,875,822 density: 290 people per square mile

So, perhaps the French have less need of an accountable planning process than Englishmen and women because we have less land to begin with (and they are not making it any more).

And as a postscript, I give the example of Heathrow Terminal 5. BAA appointed its architect in 1989 and applied for planning permission in March 1993. It took two years to organise a public inquiry to debate the scheme which ran from 16 May 1995 to 17 March 1999. Construction began in September 2002 and the Terminal was opened by HM The Queen on 14 March 2008. And does the baggage handling system work yet? We need as long as possible to plan anything. Even then, as with everything in England now, management cuts staff to the super-efficient business school bone so that the system only functions on a "muddle-through" and high stress/high staff turnover basis. A bit like HMRC and the rest of HM Civil Service.

It's Your Fault, Gordon Brown

photo with thanks to Who your friends are says a lot about you, Vlad.

Let's see you squirm out of taking the blame for the HMRC lost disks fiasco, Gordon Brown. Read how you've wrecked the morale of two government departments here. And phone me between 9 am and 9 pm any day of the week for my personal views on your mismanagement of everything your were ever entrusted with. Remember, your arbitrary number of job reductions in DWP resulted in me losing my job as a Personal Advisor with JobCentre Plus despite exceeding my targets and demoralising me to the extent that I took voluntary redundancy.

I want you, Gordon Brown, to suffer and fail.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Nuclear Power In England

I have to confess that I am a fan of nuclear power. Not in a plane spotting sort of way, although I have visited several nuclear power stations in the UK whilst on holiday. No, I am a fan of nuclear power because apart from coal, gas and oil it is the only 24/7 reliable, large capacity generating technology available to us. Believe me, if wind, wave or solar power was practical I would be 100% for it except when it's not windy, slack water or night time.
Anyway, after years pretending there is no problem ($10 barrel oil time, for instance), our government is finally wakening to the need to replace our obsolescent generating capacity. It will be necessary to build several nuclear power plants simultaneously with the construction of 12,000 wind-turbines. The 1.6 gW EPR design * likely to be chosen is presently being built in Finland and France and construction is behind schedule because of quality control problems in welding and concrete pouring .
Poor quality control in the construction industry is an age old problem. In the nineties, the Latham and Egan Reports came up with solutions to modernise the industry. When I worked as an administrator in two construction departments I was amazed by the "que sera" culture that commissioned endless surveys and was then delayed by "unforeseen ground conditions", that specified 50 mm and more tolerances on drawings, and produced "as built" drawings because the design couldn't be constructed except at much greater cost (because of a skills gap).
The nuclear power plants to be built in the UK for EDF, EON and Centrica will ideally be project managed in the construction stage by a company from the aerospace or ship-building industry because UK construction companies will need to be very closely supervised and upskilled. The first plant will obviously take longer to build because a skillled workforce and supply chain will need to be trained and subsequent plants wil be built more efficiently. But continuation of workload (instead of an order glut) and the size of the workforce are government-sized problems that should have been tackled but were instead ignored by "schools and hospitals" focused ministers. Westinghouse Electric Company, the BNFL-owned nuclear power construction company was sold to Toshiba in 2006.
Buy candles and a multifuel generator to prepare for the next decade.

* nuclear power plants have a 90% capacity factor , ie a 1.6 gW power station will produce .9x24x365x1.6gW = 12,614.4 gWh per year. A 1 mW wind tubine with a high range capacity of 35% will produce 3,066 MWh per year. Off the top of my head, one EPR power station generates the equivalent of over 4,000 windmills.

Diego Garcia to Harare Return Flight

The straight line distance from the American air base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to Harare in Zimbababwe is 2,873 miles. The unrefuelled range of a Northrop-Grumman B-2 Spirit is 6,100 miles. This, or the weapons payload, may be increased by inflight-refuelling by tanker aircraft.
As a comparison, the five 1982 "Black Buck" raids by RAF Vulcans from Ascension Island to Port Stanley Airport in the Falkland Islands were 4,000 mile round trips requiring six refuellings for each Vulcan. Twenty-one unguided 1,000 pound bombs or anti radar Shrike missiles were carried. Now, a B-52 flew from its base in the USA in to Iraq and back to RAF Mildenhall during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 but tanker aircraft were prepositioned nearer to the target.
So, to claim the undisputed record for the USAF, and to do something good for democracy in Zimbabwe, why not order a raid, Mr President?
As an alternative, because other munitions delivery systems are available, the Raytheon Tomahawk cruise missile as used by all the world's most popular navies, has a range of 1500 miles and carries a 1,00 lb warhead. The distance from Harare to the port of Beira on Mozambique's Indian Ocean coast is about 250 miles.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Wimbledon: A Chance For Tennis To Rediscover Its Englishness

WimbleDon starts today, so slap on the suncream and put up the umbrella. Two weeks of tennis made up of three days of English and British players tumbling out to foreign hopefuls 50 places below them in the rankings, then a few more days rallying behind anyone with a British ancestor and finally someone wins who learned to play by hitting a ball against the iron cutain.

So depressing and rather dull. I have a cunning plan to improve things. (Nude women's tennis is on other websites, thank you). Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam Tournament still played on grass, the others having clay and artificial surfaces. So Wimbledon is the only tournament that plays lawn tennis. Why not use this difference to our advantage by introducing a rule that only wooden small headed rackets may be used? Cricket has its famous Law 6 and has recently agreed that bats may only be made of wood.

The net result for Wimbledon Lawn Tennis will be a return to the great days before super servers stood on the baseline and slogged and returned until the opponent made a mistake. Imagine the thrills of players racing all around the court, having a smaller sweet spot on their rackets and so the really skillful players, instead of the merely strong and skilful, win.

And our strawberries are having a bumper year and, thanks to the frogs, no slug damage. The blackbirds haven't seen them yet. Bliss with creme fraiche.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Turn The Energy Saving Lights Off, England Will Be Empty Soon

With thanks to Iain Dale for bringing this to my attention. (We only have BBC News).
A gentleman called Marc Wadsworth has just got another gentleman called James McGrath (any relation to the cricketer?) sacked from his job as Boris Johnson's Chief Political Advisor (why does a politician need a political advisor anyway?). Apparently, when Mr Wadsworth quoted a Mr Darcus Howe (worth a google for past form on muggers) that the election of “Boris Johnson, a right-wing Conservative, might just trigger off a mass exodus of older Caribbean migrants back to our homelands”.
He [Mr McGrath] retorted: “Well, let them go if they don’t like it here.” McGrath dismissed [the] influential race commentator Howe as ‘shrill’.
I'm sorry but how is the above retort racist? If people do not like the policies of a democratically elected government or local authority they are still allowed to leave this country of their own free will as this Telegraph article shows. Or they can vote the corrupt bastards out at the next election. I can't find any trace of an article by Mr Wadsworth berating Nulabour for not accommodating the lifestyle choices of the 2 million British-born emigres since 1997. And describing Mr Howe as "shrill" is a personal opinion, albeit one contrary to the Glorification of Lefties, Suppression of Dissent Act, 1997.
And so Mr McGrath has quietly departed the crease after a highly questionable decision by the umpire with only a few runs on the board. Imagine the brouhaha if Boris sacked some pro-Castro, Chavez, Che, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao or Lumumbaists on the entirely justifiable grounds that their politics were not consistent with working for a democraticallyaccountable local authority.
Chalk one up to Freedom of Speech, Left Wing Style.

The Planning Application Process For Houses In England

I've not been blogging so much the past few days because I've been researching and drafting an objection to my parents' neighbours' planning application to extend their house. I have every confidence in the competence and impartiality of the Planning Officer responsible for assessing the pros and cons of the application which is why I reckon Mum and Dad need a bit of help from me to get the application rejected or severely amended. They're in their seventies and eighties and, getting down to the Council House would be necessary for them as they have the same interweb skills as I have practical knowledge of silk-weaving, although the good people on the Council Planning desk would doubtless do all they could to help. So I save them the trip and access all the relevant policy documents and similar applications from my desk.
What annoys me about planning applications is that for £150 planning application fee plus £3-400 for a set of drawings prepared by an Autocad draughtsman*, the value of a house with planning permission can increase by tens of thousands of pounds. The extensions shown on the plan do not need to be built. On the other hand, the value of neighbouring properties and views from them may be blighted yet those are not valid objections to the planning application. It would be fairer to neighbours if the judgement of estate agents or the District Valuer on this point was allowable as an objection, especially as planning guidance is intended to maintain or enhance the quality and character of an area unless a developer wants a bloody windmill.
So I've drafted an objection and shared the text with the other affected neighbour to cut, paste and adapt as necessary for their objection. The objections will be submitted as close as possible to the deadline to deny the applicant time to amend their proposals. If the applicants expected to steamroller their selfish wishes over the reasonable expectations of pensioners to enjoy their homes, well the Challenger tank of bloody-minded refusal has just trundled into the road.
And even if the Planning Application is passed, there is plenty of scope in the Party Wall Act 1996 and common law rights to light for the ticky-tacky boxes of the neighbours to cost them zillions.
Please wish Mum and Dad well.

* not an Architect who would be able to prepare an aesthetically pleasing, space and layout-efficient design of individual merit instead of a combination of features picked from the autocad's library. For the sole reason of good design I would prefer to live in the suburbs of Brussels where architects can be sued for plagiarism - that doesn't half encourage imagination and talent.

btw I'm posting this again because I only get one post a day advertised by Witanagemot (But I'm very grateful for that one) and I reckon this is more important than GB in SA.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Gordon Brown Takes His Drip-Tray To Saudi Arabia

Oh for the old days when Scotsmen only thought about oil as a grievance against the Sassenachs (It's all oors!) or as a cooking medium.

Why has Gordon Brown (left) gone to Saudi Arabia * when the real causes of the $140 barrel of oil are the speculators in London and New York engaged in a new round of tulipomania?

Is it because in that advanced democratic state with equal rights for camels and women there is no way he can repeat the fumbled handshake and Christmas office party kissing to which he subjected Laura Bush?

"Will ye no buy some ma' Typhoons or Snatch Rovers fra' oor MoD? We'll gie a discoont fa' oil."
Update: same talks in London three months' time.

Anyway, I thought about the scene between Mark Lester as Oliver and Harry Secombe as Mr Beadle in the film Oliver:
So, as the old joke goes, Oliver few more million barrels of oil, sheikh.
* using all that JetA-1 or JetB and emitting loads of carbon from the Broon Bomber

Saturday, 21 June 2008

If ID Cards Are Secure Then I'm A Dutchman

But of course this won't happen when our wonderful cards are introduced, will it? Or will we be cloned and stuffed like Dolly the Sheep? It gives another meaning to a bad oyster (a posh London bus ticket).

Friday, 20 June 2008

The Lisbon Treaty: A (Spin) Doctor Writes

On 1 July France takes on the presidency of the European Union. Its primary job will be to rescuscitate the defunct/glitched Lisbon Treaty. Here is a diagram showing CPR (do not try this on someone unless trained or under the supervision of an authorised person).

Take the treaty and alternately harangue and bribe the Irish electorate until a Yes is heard. Pace yourself to the rhythm of Beethoven's Ninth. Then ignore the Irish. If this procedure fails you may attempt French kissing to elicit a positive response as shown below : If done correctly this should result in the English getting screwed and the problem is solved.

In Proud Remembrance Of A Centurion

We would have celebrated my maternal Grandfather's one hundredth birthday today if he were still alive. He was born in County Donegal and served his country in the Army before and during the Second World War and thankfully came home in 1945 to resume family life. He was a hero to his family. He lifted me in and out of the cockpit of a Hawker Hunter.
Happy Birthday Grandad! I bet you are looking after everyone's gardens up there and peeling the praties for Granny.

Tony Blair and Afghanistan

According to a report in the Daily Mail in November 2002 Tony Blair said:

"Nobody should be in any doubt at all about our commitment to Afghanistan.
We believe it is of fundamental importance to our own security to stick with it and see the job through."

In July 2006 Tony Blair pledged whatever was required and said "work being carried out in Afghanistan by the British troops was "absolutely vital" for the future of the country and wider international security...If the Taliban get a foothold back in Afghanistan, then the very reasons following September 11 why we had to go into Afghanistan will all reappear with all the consequences for our own security and the security of the wider world."

In August 2006 Lance Corporal Ross Nicholls of the Household Cavalry was one of three soldiers killed and his Grandmother said "Tony Blair should send his sons out there and see how it feels. We want our boys brought back. Our boys are fighting in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that they don't understand....They join up to take the king's shilling and then find they are not fighting the enemy after all. They get sent to places where no-one wants them."In October 2006 again according to the Daily Mail he pledged full support to our troops in Afghanistan and said ""It has been very, very tough, it was always going to be tough,"..."Whenever you go into a battlefield situation like that, there are always things that you learn, there are always things that come at you in a more intense way than you expect."
Blair said the NATO forces must stay in the country. "It is of huge significance to the whole security in the world," he said. "It is part of a NATO mission and we should see it through."

On 23 November 2006 the Daily Mail reported equipment shortages.

On 17 June 2008 the casualty toll in Afghanistan reached 106 as 4 soldiers are killed by a bomb blast in a Snatch Landrover that Richard North of EUReferendum blogged was lethal two years before. The blame is shared by the Politicians racing into an underfunded war without thinking and the Top Brass wanting to save their spendiong money for toys they wanted instead of vehicles that were needed.

And what of Tony Blair's son mentioned in August 2006? Did he go to Afghanistan like Prince Harry? England is a free country with volunteer professional armed forces and newly commissioned officers only get £23,475.24 plus allowances. What sort of a house would that buy?

I only hope that people don't buy into the old canard that because so many have already died in Afghanistan it would devalue their sacrifice if we pulled out now. Just think how many soldiers lives will be saved if the Afghans are allowed to get on with their tribal primitivism and religious fundamentalism with just the occasional intervention of Hellfire or Tomahawk missiles guided to their targets by UAVs if terrorist training camps are set up outside Pakistan again. The frontline of the next war is the workstations of our UAV pilots or the operations rooms of our ships and submarines. We must secure our national borders and control entry to preserve our national security. Building toilets in Helmand may tick Nulab luvvies boxes but does nothing to prevent an attack on innocent Britons at home by malcontents jizzed up with DVD or internet rants.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

British Army Mobile Laundry & Bath & Showers

Let's raise a cheer to an unsung part of the British Army but which helps maintain fighting efficiency and morale. The stiff upper lip is probably starched by these chaps.

" One of the most welcome sights to a weary soldier is the arrival of a mobile shower and laundry unit. Laundry Operatives use modern, portable equipment and not only provide morale boosting shower facilities, but support field hospitals in the provision of clinically clean bedding, theatre linen and staff protective clothing. The Squadron is always in demand and members are serving in various parts of the world."
We salute you and thank you for serving your country. Get home safe and soon.

France Wants Our New Carriers To Be European

Apparently, Sarko has suggested that our new carriers (keels not even laid yet) HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales should be the flagships of a new European Union Fleet. Obviously, it's a French wheeze to sideline NATO and put the French in charge of something the UK pays the lion's share of in America's absence. Well, at least money will be saved as there will be no need for engines, propellors and Admiralty charts since the EU's record on defence cooperation means the ships will stay in harbour while the Council of Ministers attempt to get an agreement amongst themselves. "To the lighthouse and back and only during daylight when the sea is dead calm" will be the extent of any deployment.
Two questions:

1 How can the Fleet Air Arm and the Aviation navale, the Aeronáutica Naval and the Forza Aeree of the Marina Militare use the same ship for landing and taking off from when they drive on the wrong side of the road?

2 If the Royal Navy becomes part of the proposedEuropean Fleet, will it be abbreviated as EU-RN or am I just taking the piss?

Hazel Blears' Laptop

God, I wish I hadn't typed that as I want to close my eyes tonight.

Anyway, here's a photo of a computer similar to the one that was stolen from her Salford Office (what, crime not cracked yet?)

You can buy one just like it from this very nice Australian site.

But, if you are offered one cheaply by someone looking like this:

Phone this person:

Abu Qatada: Jacqui Smith Missed An Opportunity

So, popular Abu Qatada can't be deported to Jordan and can't be kept in chokey so he has to stay at home for 22 hours a day. As part of the rigorous bail conditions, Qatada is banned from communicating with or meeting several named people including Osama Bin Laden. What a missed opportunity to catch OBL that is. If only Qatada could be given the chance to meet his erstwhile lefthand boss at a local greasy spoon for a cup of tea and a natter* the War Against Terror could be quickly brought to an end with nary more than a Dixonian "Finish your egg and chips mate you're nicked." It's either there or the local Jobcentre: I'm sure I saw Osama sign on several times before his Incapacity Benefit claim was accepted.
One query: will Abu Qatada have to use some of his 2 hours a day out of the house allowance to put the bins out - can't he be deported for putting stuff in the wrong bin?

* I don't think Al-Qaeda frequent Starbucks "£2.50 for a cup of frothy coffee? I despise your infidel dcadence!"

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Magna Carta

Well, I hope that explains everything about our civil liberties.

Q:Why Did The Irish Vote No In The Referendum?

A: Because there was no box on the voting slip marked Póg mo thóin *

* The Gaelic for "Please don't ask me the same question again."

Put Simply, Gordon Brown Doesn't Care Beyond His Briefing Notes.

Watch this Bush and Brown puppet show and listen for Gordo's shameful mention of 2nd Paratroop Regiment. Even though five men of 2 Battalion The Parachute Regiment were killed in Afghanistan were killed last week he can't be bothered to learn important things like correct names. I suppose he has more important things to do, like consoling footballers.

Why didn't he say that he'd reminded Angela Merkel that Nato isn't just the Society for the Protection of Germany from Russians and that if the Germans were going to serve in Afghanistan they must act less like PCSOs and start killing the Taleban down south.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Was This What Princess Diana Meant By Her Rock?

Paul Burrell, ex-butler likes to claim that Princess Diana called him her rock.
He understands it to mean something like:

But did Princess Diana, known to have a mischievous sense of humour, actually mean:

? Well, I rather liked A Gathering of Eagles with Rock Hudson - because of the aircraft scenes, although it's not as good as the earlier Strategic Air Command starring James Stewart. And the best B-52 film has to be Dr Strangelove.

Howden And The R100

Many people have heard about the R101 airship, mainly because it crashed in France on its maiden flight to India killing all on board. But fewer know about its private sector rival ,the R100 . That airship was a much better, lower-technical risk design from Vickers that crossed the Atlantic twice but was steamrollered and sold as sold as scrap in 1931 after the government lost confidence in airships following the R101 disaster.

The R100 was built at the former RNAS airship station at Howden in David Davis' constituency of Haltemprice & Howden and was designed by a team Barnes Wallis (structure) and Neville Shute Norway (chief stress engineer) who later became a famous author. Wallis developed the geodetic structural framework later used on over ten thousand Wellingtons for the R100. Neville Shute described the Howden locals in his 1954 autobiography Slide Rule rather unfavourably:

"The lads were what one would expect, straight from the plough, but the girls were an eye-opener. They were brutish and uncouth, filthy in appearance and in habits. Things may have changed since then — I hope they have. Perhaps the girls in very isolated districts such as that had less opportunity than their brothers for getting in to the market and making contact with civilization; I can only record the fact that these girls straight off the farms were the lowest types that I have ever seen in England, and incredibly foul-mouthed."
Mind you, the gas bags in the airship were each made from over 60,000 goldbeaters' skins (the outer layer of cow caecums with the fat scraped off and stuck together in layers) so Vickers were perhaps lucky to get anyone to do this work.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Afghanistan Tactics Change: It's Iran, Stoopid!

Sorry to interrupt the referendum/42 day debates but there are two wars ongoing.
Here's a bit of gen that might have been in those documents found on the train.

With the success of the Surge campaign in Iraq against insurgents, Iran has withdrawn its terrorist advisors and reduced the quantity of support to maintenance levels to prevent substantial relocaton of US forces to Afghanistan and redirected its resources there. The change in tactics from suicide bombers to more organised attacks using a variety of weaponry and mobility indicates that the amateur religious beserking of the Taliban has been supplanted with more technically advanced Hizbollah and Hamas style tactics. And who trains and bankrolls Hezbollah and Hamas? Iran and Syria.

The result of the change in tactics has been a rise in Coalition casualties in the short term but the new-found willingness of the Taliban to fight in larger numbers means that more can be captured or killed. The Coalition can only take advantage of this opportunity with increased intelligence from all sources and increased tactical mobility.

How Many Of These Have Been Left On Trains?

Or rather, how many people have bothered to hand one into Lost Property?

Who feels like a bit of background reading on the Lisbon Treaty?

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Imagine For The Sake of National Security

If petrol tanker drivers or railway maintenance workers or water supply workers or power workers or supermarket workers went on strike for an extended period of time. The country would be plunged into a life-threatening situation within a week or two at most.
Now, imagine that the Tories had passed a law that allowed for the detention without trial of officials of the responsible trade unions until their members returned to work.
Just how many of the 316 MPs who voted for 42 day detention of innocent people on suspicion of terrorism grounds would argue that the temporary suspension of the trade union officials' civil liberties was a necessary measure to avert a national crisis and prevent loss of life?
And how many of the 646 MPs would be forced to endure starvation or candlelight like the rest of us?

Ungrateful Aid Recipient Of The Week

And this week it's Sri Lanka. Despite gaining independence from Britain on 4 February 1948 and still getting a few million quid a year in aid this former jewel in the Indian Ocean reckons that we should abolish our monarchy* and has raised the matter in a report by the UN Human Rights Council. I wonder if this has anything to do with the EU threatening to withhold 70 million euros of aid on account of Sri Lanka's abysmal human rights record. Sri Lanka is such a beacon of human rights that failed asylum seekers cannot be returned because of the risk of torture. But once a British passport is obtained, holidays home to this war-ravaged island are taken frequently by refugees. Laban Tall has an excellent post on the contribution made to the UK by some Sri Lankan citizens. But all in all they do help to make a nice cup of tea.

* Ceylon became a republic and changed its name to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sir Lanka in 1972 and a mere eleven years later civil war broke out. Scrapping the monarchy clearly worked wonders for them.

Ironic Isn't It

When the Party that passed the Human Rights Act 1998 with all its wonderful protection for the individual against the actions of the State has this week won a vote in the House of Commons to increase the length of time an innocent person may be detained against their will without charge to 42 days.
When David Davis announces he is resigning his seat to fight for re-election in the honourable cause of civil liberties like Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, the Bill of Rights, he is derided by the political intelligentsia for personal vanity and grandstanding as if the ordinary citizen does not bother about constitutional rights and wrongs so long as photographs of convicted terrorists can be shown on the Six O'clock Hate/News.
When the Speaker leads a publicly-funded attempt to block the publication of selected MPs expense claims (but fails thanks to clear-sighted Judges).
When Stuart Wheeler has to seek a judicial review over the government's refusal to hold a referendum on the Lisbon EU Constitutional Treaty despite that being a manifesto promise.
When the EU is already ignoring the Irish No vote on the Treaty and pressing on with the project to denationalise Europe.
That the Peasant's Revolt took place 627 years ago about this time of the year.

This Insults All Coventrians

BBC Report: Warning this contains offensive images.

I am disgusted by the news that a Sikh war memorial has been desecrated in Coventry by sticking a pig's head on it. In effect, they have also vandalised the monument in the Memorial Park or the Cenotaph because the remembrance by one community of its sacrifice in war is part of the city's and nation's remembrance. So I'm very angry and sad in equal measure.
Anyway, here's a picture to commemorate the vital role of Sikhs in the service of the Crown up to the present day. I know my Granddad, ex-8th Army, was always proud to march with his comrades on Remembrance Sunday.

Sikh Troops in Burma 1945

Friday, 13 June 2008

Irish Referendum Result Will Be Ignored

Look, if the vote is No then the Irish voted the wrong way over the Constitution Treaty. Their wishes will not obstruct the great plan of Monnet and Spaak to denationalise Europe and replace it with a Holy Roman Empire. A few choice morsels will be taken from the big countries' plates in the name of cohesion and tossed to the Hibernian Labradors to elicit wagging tails.

When will people realise that as far as democracy is concerned, Europe is Zimbabwe with Belgian chocolate?

How To Vote:
Place folded voting slip in bowl, close lid and flush once for Yes or twice for No

So What Is This Curvy Beauty Of The Solent?

with thanks to Bomberguy

Some Good Moustache News From Afghanistan

A jolly decent RAF pilot called Flight Lieutenant Chris Ball who is on an exchange tour with the USAF has won a battle with the miserable Puritans who deemed that his undernose handlebar was unAmerican and made him look like that dang Commie Joseph Stalin. They even made General Robin Olds, an ace in WW2 and Vietnam and CO 1 Sqdn RAF in 1946 shave his handlebar off. That act of official stupidity led to Moustache March.

Thankfully, Queen's Regulations came to the aid of this modern day Prune and he has been allowed to keep the taches in their full glory. A great victory from a worthy heir of the shades of Biggin Hill and Waddington and Pablo Mason below:

Next week the USAAF will admit that its insistence on calling aeroplanes "airplanes" or "ships" is utterly daft. Remember that the RAF and its predecessors the RFC and RNAS were flying when Pontius was still current.

David Davis - A Decent Chap

If you look at his oft-broken nose it is clear that he has the courage to stand up for his principles and I wish him the best of luck for the upcoming by-election.

It would be a welcome breath of fresh air if another MP resigned to fight his or her seat on the principle of MPs' pay and allowances.

42 Days Detention Without Charge

I wonder if the senior civil servant who allegedly left the top secret Al-Quaeda file on the train will be the first person to enjoy six* weeks in chokey at Jacqui Smith's pleasure?

I can reveal that one of the first things I was told after signing the Official Secrets Act was

The canteen was two floors up and they sold delicious pork pies. As for files, well, one had to develop a working knowledge of the relevant sections of the Departmental Security Handbook (kept in a safe) very quickly. That's why I find it hard to believe that the files could have been handled so carelessly. It's as inconceivable as letting the stationery cupboard run low of treasury tags or T&S claim forms. Or not taking credit for a junior member of staff's excellent drafts.

* I am not a number but 6 x 7 = 42. So what does 7 represent?

Thursday, 12 June 2008

MPs Allowances: What Price Democracy?

£200 million of extra Northern Ireland spending for nine DUP votes * to save Gordon's neck works out at £22.22 million each. That puts Margaret Beckett's £6,500 rockery into perspective. Or looked at another way, it's over £4.75 million for each of those 42 very expensive days. Send the bill to Anne Widdecombe** who will just have to write more novels.

* Hat tip to Steve Green's Daily Referendum for this figure.

** will David Cameron remove the whip from this anti-foxhunting figure of ridicule? She was the only opposition dupe, ie non DUP MP, to vote for this obscene publication.

So was Ray Honeyford Right?

Hazel "Nuts" Blears, Nulab Minister for Good News or Something has announced that, contrary to the wondrous delights hitherto proclaimed as true, immigration has caused strains on society so it must be right. It's been twenty-four years since Bradford Headmaster Ray Honeyford wrote something similar in the Salisbury Review but he wasn't speaking for New Labour and so was judged to be wrong, vilified as a racist and forced to resign. He didn't have the political protection accorded to Sir Trevor Phillips who spoke out recently against the disbenefits of multiculturalism.
Yes we do have freedom of speech in this country, but only if you are licenced to use it. And if you have that licence you can get away with anything so long as you say sorry*. It's ironic really that in a truly equal society Phillips would have been disemployed by the "Great and the Good" liberal intelligentsia** at the same age as Mr Honeyford.

*except that the heirs of Hitler and Stalin would never accept an apology from an ordinary person.
** ie those mainly upper class lefties who despise everything British and especially English.

Operation Mincemeat MkII

News reports that extremely secret documents relating to Al-Quaeda were "accidentally" left on a Surrey-bound train yesterday morning and then handed into the BBC stink of conspiracy as much as a fortnight old corpse washed up on the shore. Jacqui "I wants to make your flesh creep" Smith and Gordon "42 days" Brown needed every vote (and indeed only won by 9 DUP votes) to get their draconian measure through the House of Commons. Odd that the alleged owner of the numbered document worked in the Cabinet Office. I predict that the frantic enquiries will go cold now. Remember that Ministers may authorise the release of any information.

Update 14 June: Apparently, more documents were found on the same train. Someone was either extremely forgetful or disgruntled. I recall SH instructions were to keep files locked in a twin buckled briefcase (we had an ER cypher on our obsolete office briefcase which wasn't strictly allowed because it drew attention, but our jobs were 99.9% boring) and the case had to be held at all times. And that was just for the lowest grades of restricted files.

Operation Mincemeat was the codename for the successful ruse to place a Major Martin RM in the Atlantic off neutral Spain carrying documents hinting that Sardinia might be attacked instead of Sicily.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

A Solution To The Oil Price And Recycling?

Mr Singh, our local cornershop owner has had a brilliant idea. He has increased the price of tins of baked beans to £1.39 by 15p jumps over the past few weeks. Now the number of tins on the shelf has remained the same and there's only so many baked beans one can eat before every bath's a jacuzzi. But his customers keep on buying, indeed they buy an extra tin in case the price goes up again.
I said to Mr Singh, "Why don't you do this with oil? You could become a millionaire." "What are you talking about?" he replied, "It's the tomato sauce that people like, they wouldn't buy beans in oil."

Now my opinion of commodities brokers is possibly unfair but they probably won't notice so long as the money keeps rolling into their accounts and they undoubtedly play a vital role in the operation of the global free market and the business plans of Porsche and Ferrari.

What I suggest is for a bright financial spark to see the investment (money-making) possibilities of waste that is currently laboriously and expensively recycled by bearded veggies and suchlike. If only the red-braced geniuses thought as one "Paper pulp futures, bottles and tins, batteries.... mmmm...profit" and dolloped their cyber dollars and pounds into rubbish. Would it improve the crude oil price or would it merely create a market for Ferrari dustcarts?

A Train Post - I know It's A Bit Late But That's Trains

I endured about eleven years of commuting on trains, both British Rail and Virgin/Silverlink and have to say that British Rail was better because it was cheaper. Those eleven years (or eleven thousand in train years) travel taught me that railways are a nineteenth century idea struggling for a twentieth or twenty-first century solution. Now I like preserved steam locomotive railway societies because steam locomotives were ideal for the pace of nineteenth century life and because the steam loco is the ideal vehicle since it can make a cooked breakfast and pot of tea as well. But the railway industry is a money sucking monster that should be run for the benefit of the passenger within the public sector. Strict freemarketeers bleat that only private companies can run railways effiently. A bit of fact may be helpful here: private railway companies went bankrupt on a regular basis. Even the airline business has been an overall loss maker. Thank goodness for new sources of capital springing up to revive airlines finances or start new companies. And the strictest freemarketeers say that they should only pay for precisely what they consume (I bet they are fun in restaurants) but they would baulk at pavement charges or Air(copyright) usage. Public transport should be run as a public service: the consumer would soon stagger his journey times to avoid rush hours and spread usage throughout the day. No need for variable pricing.

Anyway, to the matter of Network Rail and its decision to award its senior managers (14% smaller yet still large) performance bonuses despite presiding over a massive overrunning cock-up at Rugby in the Christmas and New Year break. I like the explanation from their Chief Executive, Ian Coucher, who said that he wouldn't refuse his bonus like the BA boss after the Terminal 5 fiasco: “Mr Walsh took his judgment personally. We run a very different operation to BA. It opened one big project. We do that sort of thing every weekend. Every year we do 5,000 projects and we completed 4,950 successfully."

That reminds me of an old joke:

A young man moves to a village in Wales and gets talking to an old man from the village. He asks the old man what his name is; the old man gets very irate at this point and says: "See that line of houses over there? I built them all, but do they call me Jones the house builder? Do they hell! See those railway lines over there? I laid them all, but do they call me Jones the engineer? Do they hell! See those bridges over that river? I built them all, but do they call me Jones the bridge builder? Do they hell! But, a long long time ago, I screwed one sheep..."

Monday, 9 June 2008

Afghanistan Thoughts

This time the deaths of three men from 2 Bn The Parachute Regiment was not due to them travelling in inadequately armoured vehicles but instead was a nearly impossible to avoid suicide bomber attack on a returning foot patrol. Picture the situation, you see a man moving suspiciously towards you and your mates: you must shout a warning, take careful aim, reassess the threat and fire single shots at him in the head and chest. Remember that your judgement has to be 100% correct in those few moments. If you fire and kill or wound the suspect and he turns out to be innocent you will face a trial for murder, manslaughter or wounding. If you open fire every round has to be accounted for and justified otherwise you might face a charge of unauthorised dircharge. If you hesitate, you and your mates could be killed or wounded. Remember that if you go on trial, lawyers will have months to assess the evidence and you will have to explain your actions that day in a quiet and peaceful courtroom. There will be no shortage of lawyers and rentamob lefties attracted by the sound of the stick stirring the swill-bucket of legal aid and publicity to take the side of the victim's family.

That is courage, Mr Brown and it is demonstrated every time a patrol goes out.

Great Helicopter Websites and Museum

All The World's Rotorcraft. Mmm... pictures of aircraft. This will keep me quiet for a while. And if you ever find yourself in Weston Super Mare and you are unenchanted by the mud of the Bristol Channel, why not recover the day by visiting the World Helicopter Museum.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Dakotas Grounded For Passenger Flying But Junkers Ju 52s Fly On

Just who won the war and passed the EU-Ops regulations and slideshow here that will bring Douglas DC-3 Dakota pleasure flying to an end (accident free since 1979) in England because of the uneconomic cost of upgrading the 6o odd year old aircraft to modern airliner security standards?

The Dakota was the aircraft that transported paras and towed gliders to Sicily, on D-Day and for Operations Market Garden and Varsity in the European theatre as well as the Chindit raids in Burma. On a more mundane level it hauled everything needed to the front line and brought the wounded back. After the war, Dakotas were used in the Berlin Airlift and formed the backbone of the post-war civil airline fleets.

The Junkers 52 was used by the Luftwaffe as a bomber in the Spanish Civil War and as a para transport for the attacks on Belgium, Holland, Norway, Crete. It resupplied the Afrika Korps and the besieged Germans in Stalingrad. You can still fly in two Junkers 52s operated by the Swiss company Ju-Air and I advise you to book your tickets to keep these aircraft flying. They are ceritfied for fewer than 19 passengers and belong to a company that is not based in the EU (unlike Air Atlantique, the Dakota's owner) and so the EU-Ops regulations do not apply. If Ju-Air flew Dakotas they would be just as safe as any British operator. But One-Size-Fits-All always beats reasoned argument against pan-European standardization and anti-little-company bias.
My point is that it is ironic that an icon of Liberation will now only be found in museums and as airshow flypasts whereas an aircraft redolent of Nazi Germany will carry on towards its thousand years' airframe life.
I bet there will be rousing choruses of the "Horst Wessel" to the tune of Beethoven's Ninth in many Bavarian retirement homes at this news.

MPs and MEPs Are Just Like Us

Except they are MPs and MEPs. How sad that this post is still appropriate.

Reason 3569 Why We Shouldn't Be In The EU

Most people don't want to be in it, only big business and professional politicians want the EU. I wonder why?

Saturday, 7 June 2008

More Thoughts On The Chinook HC3

Chinook HC2 at RAF WAddington Airshow 2004 with thanks

I rushed to blog about the handling of the RAF's eight special forces Chinooks contract with a criticism of the delay taken to rectify the fault. Since then, I have read the NAO Executive Summary and the full report (click on link from here) and a blogpost from The Remittance Man.
Now RM is an excellent blogger but suffers from two biases: engineers are brilliant and civil servants are not. From his writings I assume that RM has never worked in a British government department and so his knowledge of how things are done in the civil service is based on "Yes Minister". I worked in two departments with a variety of engineers, civil, mechanical, electrical you name it. Except for the standard number of tossers one finds in any profession, they were all highly qualified and experienced and at least the equal of their counterparts in the private sector from whose companies projects were commissioned to avoid the problems of in-house work. But the massive culture-gap between the civil service and private industry was the dominance in the contractual process of the private companies' lawyers. The civil service took the view that the best people to draw up and negotiate engineering contracts were engineers: this was on the basis that the aim was to achieve the best outcome for the public purse. The contracters took the view that profit was key and any chance to increase profits with extra uncontracted work or variations was to be stalked, pounced on and exploited to the maximum. Remember that the Latham Report stated that the building and construction industry spent more on litigation than R&D. So the assertion that civil servants are inherently incapable of managing complex projects is founded largely on comfortable myth and unscrupulous private companies.
And then, most shockingly, is the way that the RAF's worst flying accident in recent years has been forgotten so completely by the media and blogosphere. on 2 June 1994, Chinook ZD576 with 4 crew and carrying 25 senior Northern Ireland intelligence experts crashed on the Mull of Kintyre in thick fog killing all 29 on board. Initially pilot error was blamed, but problems in other Chinooks upgraded by Boeing of engine power delivery delays and false warnings which may have been caused by control software prompted a lomg process of reversing the initial findings.
According to wikipedia:

" Upgrade problems

The FADEC engine control software was being upgraded on all RAF Chinook aircraft, as part of an upgrade from Chinook Mk 1 to Chinook Mk 2 capability. The Ministry of Defence successfully sued Textron, the manufacturers of the system, after a near-fatal Chinook crash caused by an uncommanded engine run-up in 1989.
EDS-SCICON was given the task of independently evaluating the software on the Chinook Mk2 FADECs in 1993, and according to the House of Commons report, "after examining only 18 per cent of the code they found 486 anomalies and stopped the review". The report also noted that "intermittent engine failure captions were being regularly experienced by aircrew of Chinook Mk 2s and there were instances of uncommanded run up and run down of the engines and undemanded flight control movements". However, this software was being used on operational aircraft.
Chinook tests at Boscombe Down by the MoD in 1994 reported the FADEC software to be "unverifiable and ... therefore unsuitable for its purpose" [6]"

So that's possibly why the MoD/RAF wanted access to the the computer software source code for the HC3. One wonders why Boeing were so unwilling to grant access, especially as bespoke code is written on site at RAF Waddington by RAF software specialists to update Boeing AWACS E-3D Sentry AEW1 aircraft of new threats and other information.

And the MoD has got a lot wiser with contractors: instead of buying x number expensive aircraft or maintenance contracts it writes new contracts to specify a guaranteed number of flying hours and availability. If the contractors want to play hardball... until of course they run to the press with stories of profit squeezes and redundancies because of the wicked MoD.

So, sometimes, just sometimes it's not entirely the fault of the Men from the Ministry.

Please click on these links for more information: Chinook Justice and Computer Weekly: enter Chinook in the search box.

So Let's Invade France

After William The Bastard stole the Crown of England from Harold in 1066 there was at least the compensation that the English throne also controlled the Duchy of Normandy. As English kings learned to speak more English and so improved, further wars, dynastic sucession and marriages added Anjou , Brttany, Gascony, Maine, Aquitaine, Touraine, Auverne, Berry Lamarke, Calais and Poitou at various times . Unfortunately, those possessions were gradually recaptured by the French until by 1453 only Calais remained and Bloody Mary lost that a century later.
But this report about the dire state of the French armed forces in today's Daily Telegraph cheered me up no end. Now's our chance, even with Nulabour's attrition of our own forces, to cross the channel by tunnel and ferry and launch a D Day II campaign to regain our birthright.
As Henry V said * "I'll be back." We'd be at the Pyrenees within a fortnight or a week if we pretend to be Germans.

*in an unreleased scene included as an extra in the Director's Folio.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Service Pay - Now The Dust Has Settled

The massed ranks of the media marched as one to the orders boomed from The Sun about "Our Lads" pay. "Private soldiers are paid less than traffic wardens" they shouted in unison "And that is wrong, Sir!" Here's some information from the Army's website about pay, conditions and food and accommodation charges for soldiers. And here's what General Dannatt actually said. Note that the General compared private soldiers' pay to traffic wardens (an easy target to mock as they are generally despised by the unthinking public) and police (known as having rather good pay and conditions). It's a pity the General didn't draw comparison with for example, a cytoscreener in the NHS or even a nurse or a Civil Enforcement Officer (Parking) outside of London.
Reading the interview between the lines, it appears that the biggest problem for soldiers is the frequency of tour spent on operations or training away from home. This has increased as the size of the army has decreased with the end of the Cold War and Nulabour has intervened around the world. In addition, unemployment is relatively low. The only solution for the problem is to increase the size of the army and the only way to do that is to increase salaries to compete with other industries for higher skilled men and women (thanks to Nulab's education reforms this pool is shrinking in size). But how can Nulab afford that or sell it to its CND core?

Lancaster LL811 Bad Penny II

At 11:34 BST tonight please pause for a moment in remembrance of those who gave their lives in the liberation of Europe that started with the invasion of Europe on 6 June 1944 because D-Day began 26 minutes earlier.

The elephant is coloured RAF pink.

Photos with thanks to 550 Squadron association.

At 11:34pm on 5 June 1944 this aircraft* of 550 Squadron based at RAF North Killingholme was the first to cross the French coast and drop its bombload on a German coastal gun battery in Normandy to begin Operation Overlord. The French government awarded the crew captain Flying Officer (later Squadron Leader) Kenyon Bowen-Bravery the Croix de Guerre in recognition of this and a commemorative plaque was dedicated in the church of St Denys in North Killingholme.

"1,012 aircraft - 551 Lancasters, 412 Halifaxes, 49 Mosquitos - to bomb coastal batteries at Fontenay, Houlgate, La Pernelle, Longues, Maisy, Merville, Mont Fleury, Pointe du Hoc, Ouisterham and St Martin de Varreville. 946 aircraft carried out their bombing tasks. 3 aircraft were lost - 2 Halifaxes of No 4 Group on the Mont Fleury raid and 1 Lancaster of No 6 Group on the Longues raid. Only two of the targets - La Pernelle and Ouisterham - were free of cloud; all other bombing was entirely based on Oboe marking. At least 5,000 tons of bombs were dropped, the greatest tonnage in one night so far in the war.
110 aircraft of Nos 1 and 100 Groups carried out extensive bomber-support operations: 24 'Airborne Cigar' (ABC)-equipped Lancasters of No 101 Squadron patrolled all likely night-fighter approaches, so that their German-speaking operators could jam the German controllers' instructions; No 100 Group flew 34 RCM sorties and 27 Serrate and 25 Intruder Mosquito patrols. 2 Intruders and 1 ABC Lancaster were lost.
58 aircraft of Nos 3 and 5 Groups carried out a variety of operations to conceal the true location of the invasion for as long as possible. 16 Lancasters of No 617 Squadron and 6 G-H fitted Stirlings of No 218 Squadron dropped a dense screen of Window, which advanced slowly across the Channel, to simulate a large convoy of ships approaching the French coast between Boulogne and Le Havre, north of the real invasion coast. These flights required exact navigation; both squadrons had been practising for this operation for more than a month. The second diversion was carried out by 36 Halifaxes and Stirlings of Nos 90, 138, 149 and 161 Squadrons. These aircraft dropped dummy parachutists and explosive devices to simulate airborne landings over areas not being invaded. 2 Stirlings of No 149 Squadron were lost while carrying out this duty.
31 Mosquitos bombed Osnabrück without loss.
Total Bomber Command effort for the night: 1,211 sorties, 8 aircraft (0.7 per cent) lost. The number of sorties flown was a new record. British, American and Canadian divisions landed on five Normandy beaches early the next morning."

*Lancaster LL811 was one of a batch of Lancasters built by Armstrong-Whitworth at Baginton.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

No Need For An English Parliament, No Need For A UK Parliament

It's a bit late for Peter Lilley to state the obvious now: Single European Act, Maastricht?

* I considered hanging them in batches from the pods of the London Eye but apparently Health & Safety wouldn't allow that.

A Landmark In English History: On 4 June 1940 The Dunkirk Evacuation Ended

""We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations." Winston Churchill to the House of Commons. However, the successful evacuation across the English Channel of 198.229 BEF Troops and 139.997 French poilus, albeit at the cost of all the British Army's heavy equipment and many ships, was, most importantly, not a defeat in the manner of Malaya and Singapore but a withdrawal and that counted for much. As a result of Operation Dynamo a national myth was created from the story of the heroic Little Ships and Tommies patiently queueing shoulder deep in lines for a place on a boat. That myth became the Dunkirk Spirit and bound the British nation together through the darkest times of the war, evolving into the Battle of Britain Spirit.

If we wish to honour Britain as a whole and understand more deeply what being British is I cannot think of a better day than 4 June as a new public holiday. And to make things fun, all petty bureaucracy and red tape that might conceivably prevent the holding of street parties would be ignored for the day on the grounds that our beloved Health & Safety regulations would now be printed in German if well-meaning clipboard-holding fluorescent-jacketed people had assessed the evacuation plans and equipment sixty-eight years ago. Remember, common sense and self-responsibility never hurt anyone.

The facts about Dunkirk.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Nothing Is Too Good For Our Peers

£100 million on an office building for 117 members of the House of Lords (plus an extra £120 million if a tunnel under the road is built*). A Baroness D'Souza claims the cost should be spread out over the "100 year" ** life of the building, presumably to make the average cost per peer less than £10,000. But any ful kno that buildings need maintenance and refurbishment and over the proposed hundred year lifetime that cost will be at least as much again before inflation is factored in. Running costs. Presumably a mere bagatelle to someone who stated that peers work for tuppence (up to £48,000 per year provided they sign in on each day the House sits (150)).

My question is " These Lords and Ladies do not represent constituents. If they have ministerial jobs they will have offices in their departments' hq buildings. Why should HM Taxpayer pay for offices for amateur politicians when they ought to make use of their London clubs' facilities or their town houses?"

* if they're not safe crossing the road why are they allowed to make laws?
** why not 1000 years?