May 31, 2005
Terrorism on the streets of London?
A TANGLED WEB points out:
Fascinating story on Airstrip One. It appears that a former British Army sniper, who may have killed six terrorists, was gunned down in a London street last month. As to who did the gunning down, and as to whether there is an IRA connection, well, that's not worth exploring, is it?
Of course not - terrorists wear towels on their heads and are not nice cuddly caravan-owning pullover-wearing beardies who Tony wants to do a deal with.
France's resounding No to the EU constitution amounted to a defiant blast from country people, mid-ranking professionals, the young, the low-paid and the jobless at the well-heeled elite in Paris.
And we are a strong forgotten lot over here as well!
Blair against the "elite"
Tony Blair was on a collision course with fellow European leaders last night over Government plans to kill off the EU constitution...
The German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, admitted that the French result had been a shock to Europe's elites but insisted that it would not halt closer integration, built round the Franco-German axis.
"It is a setback for the process of ratifying the constitution but not its end," he said.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, whose country has already ratified the treaty, also insisted that the show must go on.
He said: "European construction is a grand project and will overcome obstacles, as Europe is not the problem but the solution."
Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner in Brussels, said the French government could well ask the people to vote again in a second referendum in the hope of getting a different answer.
"No single member state has a veto over a constitutional treaty of this sort," he said.
"France will have to consider its position: whether it is going to maintain a No or whether it is going to revisit the question and possibly come forward with a different view."
Laugh? - I am nearly crying into my cup of "Rosy" - no double moccha fairtrade lattes here, mate! The "Elite" is still on autopilot having assumed it would be a "petite non" - but it wasn't; the world has changed and something needs to shift to accomodate it.
For real analysis go and read some of the euro bloggers on the sidebar - they are far better at it than I am!
Free at last ?
Tax Freedom Day is today.
"Take these chains from my heart and set me free
You've grown cold and no longer care for me
All my faith in you is gone but the heartaches linger on
Take these chains from my heart and set me free"
May 30, 2005
Is the Englishman dead?
You are nothing but Quislings, cowering in your corners, praying for the bad men to go away, because they make you feel uncomfortable. Harry is dead, Horatius is gone, John Bull is but a parody; a memory of "the bad old days".
A little harsh maybe? Please visit and read the whole post, and leave a comment if so inclined.
May 27, 2005
I'm Off Out into the Midday Sun
Lunchtime and England is gloriously sunny with record breaking temperatures - so I'm happily off out with this latest news fresh in:
Scientists believe going out in the midday sun without sunscreen for 10-15 minutes is good for you, contrary to current advise.
And dear, dear Noel's words on my lips:
In tropical climes there are certain times of day
When all the citizens retire to tear their clothes off and perspire.
It's one of the rules that the greatest fools obey,
Because the sun is much too sultry
And one must avoid its ultry-violet ray.
The natives grieve when the white men leave their huts,
Because they're obviously, definitely nuts!
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,
The Japanese don´t care to, the Chinese wouldn´t dare to,
Hindus and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one
But Englishmen detest-a siesta.
In the Philippines they have lovely screens to protect you from the glare.
In the Malay States, there are hats like plates which the Britishers won't wear.
At twelve noon the natives swoon and no further work is done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
It's such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see,
that though the English are effete, they're quite impervious to heat,
When the white man rides every native hides in glee,
Because the simple creatures hope he will impale his solar topee on a tree.
It seems such a shame when the English claim the earth,
They give rise to such hilarity and mirth.
Ha ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo hoo hee hee hee hee ......
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The toughest Burmese bandit can never understand it.
In Rangoon the heat of noon is just what the natives shun,
They put their Scotch or Rye down, and lie down.
In a jungle town where the sun beats down to the rage of man and beast
The English garb of the English sahib merely gets a bit more creased.
In Bangkok at twelve o'clock they foam at the mouth and run,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The smallest Malay rabbit deplores this foolish habit.
In Hong Kong they strike a gong and fire off a noonday gun,
To reprimand each inmate who's in late.
In the mangrove swamps where the python romps
there is peace from twelve till two.
Even caribous lie around and snooze, for there's nothing else to do.
In Bengal to move at all is seldom ever done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
Tim Worstall is having a competition this weekend. The aim is to come up with the tag line for a bumper sticker which perfectly describes your (or our) view of the European Union.
Never tasted Pork..
One of the Prince of Wales's favourite clerics was at the centre of a storm ..after an anti-semitic remark in a Cotswold pub.
The Rev Christopher Mulholland, 60, is in charge of several churches near the prince's Highgrove home and has regularly hunted with him and his sons with the Beaufort Hunt.
He is a colourful and outspoken character and has the reputation for politically incorrect opinions, but friends said he would have spoken with "self-mocking humour" and he was not a racist.
...When a waitress asked who had ordered a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, the vicar said: "Well it's certainly not for Michael Howard! I always say I couldn't trust a man who has not tasted pork."
I know this is an old story now, but it has only just struck me that of course the old boy wasn't being racist.
(If there is any basis for racism it is the belief in some sort of genetic superiority and inferiority of different races, it is the sort of belief you need as a socialist because you are concerned with ruling "a society" and therefore need to draw boundaries of who is in and who is out of it. Us vile free marketeers believe in dealing, and being friends, with anyone on the basis of what they offer and their individual characteristics, and to discriminate against a bunch of people of fatuous grounds is against logic and self-interest. Racism is based on genetic discrimination, an unalterable part of a person's being, which alone makes it obviously unfair. Discrimation based on people's lifestyle choices is something everyone does and is quite logical.)
"Not eating Pork" is a lifestyle choice, based on your choice of religion, no different to your choice in hats or shoes. And if saying "I could never trust someone wearing a "hoody"," is acceptable - as it seems to be now, then so is saying I don't trust a man who has denied himself the glorious joys of Bacon, Sausages, Gammon, Roast Pork, Crackling, Faggots, Pork Scratching, BBQ ribs etc. simply because of his choice of imaginary friend.
Oh, and I wish we had this sort of man as our local vicar!
All are equal, but..
Fifty-nine police cars were caught speeding on one county's roads last year - but not a single driver was prosecuted.
None of the marked cars captured by speed cameras in Derbyshire was known to have been using blue emergency lights.
But in every case senior officers decided that the journey they were making justified breaking the speed limit.
Princess Toni having decided the problems we face in society are caused by a loss of "respect innit", perhaps he might care to look at this sort of behaviour... no, no chance it is one law for them and one for us.. how soon before we have Zil lanes through town for him and his cronies?
Doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.
I suppose we soon will only be allowed to eat with plastic cutlery, or why not just make us live on Soup and Weetabix. It might be alright for the Tofu eaters but I need knives that cut meat!
May 26, 2005
The BBC gives the Free-born Englishman's view
The argument over identity cards may strike many foreign observers as peculiar, especially in continental Europe where they are long established.
The French embassy in London seemed bemused at being asked whether anybody in France objected to identity cards. They were an accepted fact of life and they allowed you to travel in other European Union countries without a passport - that was the message.
In Germany, everyone has to carry an ID card from the age of 16. A German diplomat told me: "Nobody thinks about it, nobody questions it... if you're in trouble, you just show it... we don't mind giving information if it's necessary."
The traditional objection of the free-born Englishman, as he would see himself, is summed up in the sentence: "Why should I have to prove who I am?"
What I actually said yesterday was:
An Englishman's Castle: Papers Bitte!
"I'm a free born Englishman and I shouldn't have to prove who the fuck I am to anybody, just so I can walk around my country."
Is someone listening to me?
Prescott lies to push his plans
The Prince of Wales last night launched what was seen as an attack on Government plans to demolish up to 400,000 homes in the Midlands and the North.
He said it was wrong to demolish old buildings where they could be restored more economically....
His remarks, in a speech to the Institute of Chartered Accountants, follow those of Ringo Starr, who questioned the demolition of 20,000 homes in Merseyside, including his birthplace in Madryn Street, Toxteth....
Mr Prescott denied that Starr's birthplace was in the demolition zone - though it is. Yvette Cooper, the housing minister, insisted that such decisions were made locally, but in some cases demolition was the only realistic option.
"The vast majority of investment is going to refurbish homes as this can make a real difference to communities," she said. "However, some areas have tried refurbishment before and still homes are left empty and not enough people want to live there."
It became clear yesterday that Liverpool councillors had asked the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister several times to restore more homes instead of knocking them down.
I really don't understand Prescott's mad plans and determination to bulldoze thousands of homes, including many owned by people who are happy with their houses. Is it some Nulabour fixation with nuHouses for the exciting nu1960s?
And it comes to something when the only effective opposition is the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine (and former drummer of a popular Beat Combo) and His Royal Highness!
You vote - We ignore
Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg and holder of the rotating EU presidency, told Le Soir newspaper in Belgium that he would act swiftly on Sunday night if France voted No.
He would appear with the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and demand that all 25 EU nations complete the process of ratifying the constitution, in referendums or parliamentary votes.
Mr Juncker said it was essential for the EU leadership to show a united front on Sunday night, and "maintain order in the process that will unfold the morning after".
"If it's a Yes, we will say 'on we go', and if it's a No we will say 'we continue'," he said.
We are not going to let the views of the little people get in the way of the great project....
Euro Tories go native
A Conservative MEP had his party membership suspended yesterday by the head of the British Tory delegation in the European Parliament after an angry debate about excessive European Union secrecy.
Four other British Conservatives were threatened with expulsion from the European People's Party, the parliament's majority centre-Right faction, by the EPP's German leader, Hans-Gert Poettering...
The suspension was triggered after Mr Helmer publicly accused the Tory leader in the European Parliament, Timothy Kirkhope, of "inappropriately" demanding he remove his name from a motion of censure against the European Commission.
Mr Helmer accused Mr Poettering of being behind that "pressure", telling the EPP leader he had "brought shame on this House".
Moments later the German MEP abruptly told parliament that Mr Helmer was no longer a member of his grouping, a declaration that followed no known parliamentary rule.
Within hours Mr Helmer was stripped of his British Tory whip - a move that angry colleagues said was designed to save Mr Poettering's face.
So Euro Tory MEPs are meant to dance to the tune of a German politician rather than represent their constituents or party at home - I will remember that next time they come asking for my vote.
May 25, 2005
Not long to go now
Tax Freedom Day 2005 falls on 31 May.
The March 2005 Budget moved Tax Freedom Day later by 3 days, from 27 May (revised figure) in 2004, to 31 May in 2005. This is actually an increase of three days because 2004 was a leap year. So we get three days more of the year that we have to work for the government, rather than for ourselves.
Telegraph | News | Europe faces up to double rejection of treaty
French voters appear ready to deliver a humiliating rebuff to the European establishment by rejecting the proposed EU constitution, according to opinion polls last night.
They showed the No vote strengthening to an eight-point lead in the final days of campaigning before Sunday's referendum.
....elements of uncertainty were enough to make it possible that when polling ended on Sunday night, France would have voted Yes.
Why do I have a feeling that when they open those Ballot boxes there will be more Yes votes than expected?
Senior backbencher Gwyneth Dunwoody said some Labour MPs were uneasy about the scheme.
"The history of police forces or governments holding every element of information about people's lives is not that they are always used responsibly, but used in some instances by governments for the worst possible reasons," she said.
Couldn't have put it better myself - well I could have I suppose; lets try - It wasn't the Nazi's who introduced ID cards but they gleefully used the information - and it is a stupid unwirkable idea - foreign tourists won't have them, so what protection does that give us from foreign terrorists, we didn't need them when the IRA was bombing us..... etc etc but how about? "I'm a free born Englishman and I shouldn't have to prove who the fuck I am to anybody, just so I can walk around my country." - I think that is more like it.
May 24, 2005
Médecins du Monde, an organisation usually associated with medical care for the poor and sick of developing countries, is planning to set up three clinics in London to treat people the NHS does not reach.
The NHS - envy of the world - to each according their need - the best care for everyone regardless of their circumstances - for the many not the few - the biggest employer in the western world ...And a fucking French charity has to come in to help out in London as though it is some third world disaster zone. No wonder this "envy of the rest of the world", just like the BBC, isn't actually copied by the rest of the world.
A light touch
Mr Brown said inspectors would in future target "bad traders", rather than continuing a system where "everyone was inspected continuously".
"Under a risk-based approach, there is no unjustifiable inspection, form-filling or requirement for information," he told the FT.
"The better view is that business wants to act responsibly. Reputation with customers and investors is more important to behaviour than regulation," he said.
Well that sound like an excellent step in the right direction - I suppose I ought to curb my cynicism and hope it at least partially happens. But having just filled in the longest, most complicated business form ever for the farm, which heralded the new simplified "light touch" SFP regime my doubts remain.
Mickey Mouse outrages Greenpeace
Disneyland was attacked by enviornmental groups yesterday after it began advertising that it would serve shark's fin soup, a traditional Chinese delicacy, at its new theme park in Hong Kong.
In a clash between the host territory's traditional culture and western sensitivities, Disney was asked how it could square the love of nature promoted by films such as Finding Nemo and the wholesale annual slaughter of millions of sharks for their fins....
Turning the Chinese into a nation of vegetarians - a lifetime's work; will they achieve that before or after they get Bambi's mother to escape in the remake?
May 23, 2005
“The myths are no longer sustainable”
Kimball Nill, Technical Director, American Soybean Association-International Marketing
The advent of ag biotechnology has been memorable for many reasons. One of the most curious, and for me, the saddest, is the contagion of misunderstandings, half-truths and sometimes blatant falsehoods spread by its critics and rivals during the past decade. These “myths” – for often, that is all they are – have poisoned honest debate and corrupted the judgements of politicians, journalists, consumers, farmers, and tragically, the governments of some of the world’s poorest countries.
In 2003, the American Soybean Association (together with eight other leading U.S. farm organizations) published Correcting the Myths. We wanted to add the rational, independent farmers’ voice to the world’s biotech debate, a viewpoint often unheard, and certainly often ignored, in Europe and elsewhere. We sought to communicate the facts about ag biotech, in part based on our own experiences, to counteract some of the most egregious propaganda ever to emanate from environmental and organic farming lobbyists.
Two years on, we realise our document needs to be updated - because the facts just got better. Read it here
Interesting week ahaead on the EU Referendum - I have given up trying to read the tea leaves and so am glad for this explanation from a leading french expert...
"I think there will be a 'yes'. If we don't (vote 'yes'), there is a great risk there will be a 'no'".
Elizabeth Guigou, former French Europe minister
An everday story of urban folk
Jemma, Jade and Natasha Williams, who receive benefits totalling more than £31,000 a year, are raising their babies alone after they became pregnant within three months of each other.
The sisters, aged 12, 14 and 16 when they gave birth, live in Derby with their twice-divorced mother, who holds the education system responsible for their plight.
"I blame the schools - sex education for young girls should be better," said Julie Atkins, 38. ...
Jemma, the youngest sister, was the first to become pregnant, giving birth to her son T-Jay in February last year. Then, in November, Natasha, 16, who had already had two miscarriages and an abortion, had Amani. The next month, Jade, 14, gave birth to daughter Lita.
The family lives rent-free in a three-bedroom council house, which they claim is too cramped. Their mother claims benefit for Jade and Jemma, now 15, as well as for their children. However, she said that day-to-day life was a struggle.
"It's really difficult to survive on what we have," she said. "My average shopping bill is £90 a week, and then there's all that extra stuff like toys, nappies and medicine.
"The house is far too small. I have to share a bedroom with Natasha and Amani which is very cramped. Hopefully we may be able to get a bigger house, but who knows?"
Of course the fathers are not expected to be there or do any supporting, you know the rest.... - one thing puzzles me - Benefits - £31,000 a year, House free, Medicines free, Schooling free etc - shopping £90 a week, say £5000 a year, why are they so hard up?
May 20, 2005
Please take another 280 days off as well - Europe makes the laws now anyway! - the country works much better without the constant meddling of MPs. I think five days a year would be plenty to tweak a couple of laws that need it, repeal a shed load and get dressed up for the state opening.
His GP referred him to the hospital for the treatment and Mr Blair had the treatment at about 1900 BST on Thursday.
I haven't got the up to date figures but in May 2004 - Average total wait 150 days for treatment for a slipped disc - obviously it has improved now thanks to nu-labour if he was seen immediately!
Mr Blair's wife Cherie denied Mr Blair had a slipped disc when asked about his health at a law awards meeting.
But Downing Street explained Mrs Blair had been told her husband had a "prolapsed disc" and did not realise it was the same as a slipped disc.
An alternative explanation is that Cherie just lies so often she has forgotten what truth is....
Ornithologists say they are increasingly concerned about the "alarming" decline of some of Britain's woodland birds species.
I'm not an expert but my suggestion would be try shooting the lovely fluffy Grey squirrels who attack bird nests to eat the eggs and other predators - see SongBird Survival - acting to help songbirds survive for other details of the non-politically correct way to manage the countryside.
May 19, 2005
The new Lord exercises his rights
Djibril Cissé, the Liverpool footballer who recently bought a £2 million manor house in Cheshire, has banned hunting on his new estate.
The French striker, who inherited the title "Lord of the Manor of Frodsham" when he purchased the nine acres...
Absolutely up to him who he allows on his land, and I'm sure he is well in with the rest of the Cheshire Aristocracy, but, m'Lord, nine acres ain't exactly an "estate" - it is a very nice garden with a home paddock and hopefully a bit of woodland. (For those of you without your own estate, nine acres (funny how the BBC doesn't use the less impressive sounding metric 3.5 hectares!) is about 200 yards by 200 yards square.)
What a waste!
As I pointed out a long time ago, and has been officially confirmed today - BBC NEWS "Whether parents use disposable or cloth nappies makes little difference to the environment, a report has concluded."
So why has the government had spent £2.6m promoting cloth Real Nappy Schemes through the Waste and Resources Action Programme "in the absence of any proven overall environmental benefit"?
Because the Greens won't be happy until we are back in the stone age! They don't care if the poor kids suffer red raw arses and the houses stink as long as they can feel virtuous! I think I upset one who started preaching to us about nappies when I just asked if she used "jam rags" or disposable tampons - "Oh, that is completely different!" - Oh no, it is not lady!
(Note for American readers - for Nappies read Diapers throughout - we are not talking Napkins here - which should never be disposable except at burger bars.)
May 18, 2005
Sorry I'm a just a grumpy old man but when Kylie's breasts beat the Queen's speech outlining the nuLabour plans for a zillion new laws and demanding "respect,man" as the top story on the news something maybe slightly out of kilter in the MSM.
Not that Kylie's breasts aren't something that I have considered in the past, but she is young, fit, healthy and wealthy so, we pray, her prognosis is good. It is a non-bloody-story apart from for her and her close ones!
Anyway for those without a Kylie picture on the wall please allow me to relate the latest:
Kylie is a bit worried about a lump she has found in her breast. She goes to her nearest hospital and is shown into a cubicle. A short while later a man swishes back the curtain, looks surprised and does the full "rabbit caught in headlights" bit, thinking "bloody hell - Kylie Minogue in my hospital".
Kylie says to him "sorry to bother you, I would like you to inspect my breasts please."
The man looks kind of uncomfortable. "I'm sorry Miss Minogue but it's really not my department - I'd love to help but there are these rules you see..."
"Please help me," says Kylie, "I'm terribly worried."
Thinking "what the hell" the man proceeds to give Kylie a very tender but thorough and professional inspection.
"Hmm," says he, "I can see what you mean. I think you should see a doctor
"You mean you're not a doctor?" asks Kylie, horrified.
"No," says the man, "I'm just the porter. I was just checking the cubicle and didn't realise it was occupied. I did try to tell you but you were so insistent."
"That's terrible," says Kylie, "I've just let some random bloke fondle my breasts."
"That's not the worst of it," says the bloke. "Even if I could tell
anyone, they would never believe me."
Midgets Lion fight
As a public service announcement may I point out that sadly the Lion Mutilates 42 Midgets in Cambodian Ring-Fight story is unfortunately a fake - see here - if you want to you can buy the T-shirt though I would suggest that this or this are better buys!
Countryside Alliance event
The Lamb at Hindon, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, owned by London’s Boisdale Bars & Restaurants, are hosting a series of events over this year with all proceeds being donated to the Countryside Alliance.
Boisdale has recently taken ownership of The Lamb at Hindon, which has been awarded the prestigious Four Diamonds by the AA for its accommodation, in addition to its good food rating.
The second event will take place on Wednesday 8 June, and will involve a cigar rolling demonstration as well as a cigar and whisky tasting evening. Tickets cost £35 per person and includes dinner, ½ bottle of wine per person, all cigars and whiskies.
Please book with Nick or Mark on 01747 820573.
The programme for the evening is as follows:
Haggis on toast
Dunkeld award winning smoked salmon, crème fraiche and rye bread
Fillet of venison au poivre, spinach and mash
Bitter chocolate tart with pistachio ice cream
9.15pm Cigar rolling demonstration
9.30pm Cigar & whisky tasting
Pity I neither smoke or drink whisky, otherwise I would try and get Mr FM along to it, sounds just up his street. Cigar rolling, dusky maiden's thighs, ah, maybe it wouldn't hurt to just try one...
18th May - same as last year
May 17, 2005
Sign me up!
The official launch of The People's "No" Campaign (against the European Constitution) is to take place at 2 pm Wednesday 25th May 2005. It will be held at The Conference Room, Abingdon House, 13 Little College Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3SH.
Details of the growing alliance will be posted on the website shortly, where we have a full analysis of news and events as they unfold.
EngIand this morning
A United Europe!
Language, history, cooking and support for rival football teams still divide Europe. But when everything else fails, one glue binds the continent together: hatred of the French...
Britons described them as "chauvinists, stubborn, nannied and humourless". However, the French may be more shocked by the views of other nations.
For the Germans, the French are "pretentious, offhand and frivolous". The Dutch describe them as "agitated, talkative and shallow." The Spanish see them as "cold, distant, vain and impolite" and the Portuguese as "preaching". In Italy they comes across as "snobs, arrogant, flesh-loving, righteous and self-obsessed" and the Greeks find them "not very with it, egocentric bons vivants".
Interestingly, the Swedes consider them "disobedient, immoral, disorganised, neo-colonialist and dirty".
May 16, 2005
Your Life in their hands
A judge's ruling on the rights of terminally-ill patients could put doctors in an "impossibly difficult" position, the GMC has told a court.
Leslie Burke who has a degenerative brain condition, won a landmark ruling last year to stop doctors withdrawing food and drink when he cannot speak.
Artificial nutrition is classed as a form of treatment by the GMC...
Professor Irene Higginson, who specialises in palliative care and gave evidence on behalf of the GMC in the original hearing, said there were cases where giving food and water artificially could do more harm than good.
Note the weasel words "Artificial nutrition" - this simply means feeding someone who can't feed themselves. My four year old daughter needs us to go and buy food, cook it and put it on a plate for her -is she living on "artificial nutrition"? Yes, according to these doctors.
And so if she happened to be in hospital; and it was all a bit too much trouble; they needed the bed to hit a Government target; and the Consultant had a really important meeting on a Portuguese Golf Course all week; it would be all right to just stop feeding her? Like fuck it would be!
Now I hope that if when my time is done, if I can't roll over like Sir Henry and reach the double barrelled, then a good doctor will help me out with some drugs even stronger than "GB" of the "Dear Hugh" letters is used to. But if I have said I don't want to be starved or dehydrated to death, (a nasty way to go), then I bloody well don't want to be - OK?
Should We Stay or Should We Go?
CIVITAS The Latest Books Should We Stay or Should We Go? By Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Stephen Pollard.
Pollard argues, I gather, that the Anglo-Saxon's are winning the arguement in the EU so we should stay and convert the institution; Lord Pearson "Leaving the EU would be a liberating, refreshing, positive, modern thing to do. And we would be very much richer as well!"
Now is not the time for Britain to talk about withdrawing from the European Union, according to one of the contributors to a new publication from independent think-tank Civitas. Writing in Should We Stay or Should We Go?, Stephen Pollard of the Centre for the New Europe argues that the forthcoming referendum on the European Constitution offers 'the opportunity of a generation to mould the EU in the direction which the British have been advocating for decades… [and] places the power to force change in the hands of the electorate, who will have the opportunity to say what they think, and to say it in a way that can't be ignored' (p.25).
Pollard sees the conflict over the Constitution as a battle between the forces of Old Europe, led by France and Germany ('statist, tax-devouring… old, sclerotic' pp.28 & 28) and New Europe ('more market-flexible, politically loose and sovereignty-respecting' p.26). New Europe is led by Britain, but with the very important fresh allies of Eastern European countries that have recently joined the EU, and which are more drawn towards the British and American political model - 'the EU did nothing to free Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary from the Soviet empire' (p.27).
Pollard cites the appointment of José Barrosa as President of the European Commission as a sign of the new outlook in Europe, an outlook that owes much to British influence:
At a time when the possibility now exists of sending so severe a shock to the EU's system that change is unavoidable, it would be crazy, now of all times, to consider withdrawal (p.26).
Pollard warns that the Blair government wants to portray the referendum on the European Constitution as being about whether we should be in or out of the EU. This should be resisted, as he believes there are many who share his own Euro-scepticism, and who will vote to reject the Constitution, but who want Britain to remain in the EU. If the referendum is allowed to turn into a vote for or against EU membership, it will let the Euro-federalists off the hook:
The withdrawal issue is thus political stupidity of the highest order, given the opportunity for a resettlement of the EU's foundations which would be presented by a "No" vote (p.31).
Better off out!
Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the other contributor to Should We Stay of Should We Go?, shares Stephen Pollard's aversion to the proposed EU Constitution, about which he finds only one good thing to say:
M. Giscard D'Estaing … has done us all one great favour. The wording of the document is really very easy to understand; it is not written in the usual impenetrable verbiage of the Treaties (p.16).
But what it says is that:
the EU will acquire its own legal personality, superior to that of the member states. There is no longer even the pretence that the EU is an arrangement between sovereign nations. The EU, the Brussels system, becomes Sovereign (p.15).
However, Lord Pearson feels that the whole EU project has gone too far, and that the surrender of sovereignty involved is already so serious, that the only answer is to withdraw completely. The threat to our sovereignty, our democracy and our centuries-old tradition of self-government, coupled with the huge costs and institutionalised corruption of the EU ('Its own internal auditors have refused to sign its accounts for the last nine years' p.5) make sensible reform impossible. The only way forward is out.
Leaving the EU would be a liberating, refreshing, positive, modern thing to do. And we would be very much richer as well! (p.19)
Both essays are in the best tradition of political polemic. The authors argue their opposing positions with passion and conviction, enabling readers to compare and evaluate the two sides of this most topical debate.
Should We Stay or Should We Go? By Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Stephen Pollard is published by Civitas, 77 Great Peter St, London SW1P 2EZ
Tel 020 7799 6677, www.civitas.org.uk, price £5.90 inc. p&p, ISBN 1 903 386 40-3.
Save the Land-Rover
A number of Greenpeace protestors have entered a UK Land Rover factory and disrupted production at the plant.
The environmental action group says 35 of its members breached security at the plant at Solihull in the West Midlands.
Greenpeace says the action is in protest at what is claims are the "climate wrecking" emissions from Range Rovers, Land Rover's premium model...
Stephen Tindale, executive director for Greenpeace in the UK and a former New Labour environment adviser, was one of the protesters who chained themselves to half-built chassis.
Mr FM, where are you? You are needed to leap to the Landies defence.
Of course I would just restart the line - "Darling, what is that rattle in the boot well? - Just a nulabour advisor who got welded into a box section - nothing to worry about...."
Oxford Poly gets uppity
Blognor Regis reports:
Jeremy Clarkson has been nominated for an honorary degree by Oxford Brookes University (surely the best one in town, not that that's saying much) and the Dons don't like it.
George Roberts, a director for e-learning at Brookes, said: "The petition has received support from senior professors and administration staff alike. Clarkson's public statements could be interpreted to be at odds with many of the university's values.
"The university is committed to 'ensuring the understanding and care of people and stewardship of environmental and public resources'.
Having enjoyed three years in Cowley's Latin Quarter trying to get a Gentleman's Third from the real University I feel obliged to comment.
"the best one in town"? I nearly choked on my Breakfast Sherry at that - cheeky pup. "Dons" - you mean "Corduroy-clad, hairy-chin, tofu-wearing, nut-munching Polytechnic teachers". They may claim to be a University but they are really just a glorified Bricklayers College which keeps the yoof unemployment figures down.
It is a great shame that we now have to believe that "education" is the key to success - for most "training" is far more useful. A good honest college that proudly turns out tradesmen and craftsmen would do far more its students and the country than a jumped up third rate media studies and diversity workshop collective. Places where it is considered proper to convict the likes of Clarkson of "thoughtcrime" and want to ban him. My guess is that Clarkson and his programs promoting Brunel have done more for the commonweal than Mr e-learning Sandal-shuffler ever has.
Breaking rocks in the hot sun
Home Office plans to make young offenders wear uniforms while they carry out community service orders have been condemned as a "nasty gimmick".
Probation officers said naming and shaming offenders was counterproductive and would lead to more re-offending.
Rights group Liberty said the plans would only degrade those involved....
Ahh Diddums - Me, I'm on the side of Dragline..
"Boy, you're new meat. You're gonna have to shape up fast and hard for this gang. We got rules here....
Anyway I thought they all wore a uniform already; white trainers, jeans, hoody and a Burberry hat....
ARTIST: Sonny Curtis
TITLE: I Fought the Law
Lyrics and Chords
Breaking rocks in the hot sun
I fought the law and the law won (2x)
I needed money 'cause I had none / I fought...
/ G - C G / / G - D7 G / :
I left my baby and I feel so bad
I guess my race is run
Well she's the best girl that I ever had
/ C - - - / G - - - / C - - - / G - C G / G - D7 G /
Robbing people with a six gun / I fought...
I miss my baby and good fun / I fought...
May 13, 2005
The "Dear Hugh" Letters
I have been copied in on this series of letters which I thought you might enjoy:
Is a series of letters written to a friend by a professional man approaching his 50th birthday. He lives in a small village in Wiltshire. He has four children; one 12-year-old rock guitarist son and three blonde daughters aged 18, 19 and 21. His wife has just turned 40 and is a generation younger than him. Having spent 12 years in journalism and then 15 years working as publicist for an international music star and British national hero, he is trying to find some income working part-time as an ideas originator of programmes for a small London TV production company, where his boss is a woman 20 years younger than him. Unfortunately, he is handicapped in this as he detests pretty much all modern television. Having been very slim for all of his childhood and all of his adulthood to date, in the last year he has been horrified to find himself putting on weight. He is now three stone heavier than he was last summer. He does not understand the Internet, e-mail, television scheduling or anything more technical than a wheelbarrow. He drinks, but is currently teetotal, he smokes and does not exercise. He is on treatments of Prozac and beta-blockers for the depression that led him to leave his famous former employer. He is grumpy, confused and writes from his shed in his garden, from where he is happy to receive comments to email@example.com, especially if they endorse his view that everybody other than chaps of his age needs psychiatry. His friend Hugh is five years his senior and lives in the French Alps near Evian.
Dear Hugh 1
Thursday May 5th 2005
Well the good news is that today I am 13st. 10lbs. I realise that this entirely frightful statement is like claiming the good news to be that I only have cancer of the throat, but you have no idea what I’ve been going through.
For starters, did anyone ever warn you than a bottle of vino contains something like 2,000 calories? Exactly, nobody told me either. Consequently I’ve been merrily drinking my calorific RDA before I even get started on the crisp-breads and salad and all of the other taste-free muck that I’m forced to eat in order to try lessen the ballooning of the stomach that is identifying me as Britain’s first seven-months pregnant man.
Because of this suppressed fact that Shiraz is actually grape-flavoured golden syrup, my weight has gone not only through the roof but also quite probably through one of those myriad holes in the O-layer. It’s all very well for My Ex to go around singing how he’s half the man he used to be; lucky him – I’m thrice the man these days.
According to The Grand-child Bride, this is what happens to men of your age. Did you know that? You were a man of your age before me; did anyone say “Oh, by the way, when you get to almost 50 be prepared for your tummy to touch your toes”? Exactly, nobody says a bloody word; they just sit there and silently watch you inflate like a Zeppelin and when you wake up one morning complaining that you’re Johnny Piggin’ Vegas they say “I could have told you that would happen”.
Anyway, late middle-age and an ignorance of the liquid lard that is apparently alcohol has super-sized me to the extent that the only clothes that fit me are those dreadful claret and beige zipped cardigans that nobody wants to be seen looking at on the XXXXL rail in Oxfam. My face looks like one of those aquarium fish that puffs up when it gets frightened and I haven’t looked down and seen my willy for a good nine months now. I only know it’s still there because it wakes me up every three hours at night demanding a pee.
What is happening to my body? And, more to the point, whose fault is it, what is the name and address of their lawyer and where can I buy a gun?
But, as I said, it’s been worse. Although today I am an elephant-svelte 13st 10, up until last week I’d been over the 14 mark. That was a bloody horror and, I tell you, for a while there I had a good mind to spend a month doing the old Bogota body-plan that used to be so popular on rock tours I have known. Trouble is and as you know, the Gackins Diet only works if you keep on it all the time and I don’t have the money for that anymore.
So it was Diet Coke instead – and there was another problem; it may be sugar-free but all that carbonation….Jesus! You may as well have just deep-throated the air-hose at the local garage. Talk about blow-up, you could have tied a length of string to my leg and sold me to those candy floss-faced children who hang about sulking for another ride besides the dodgems at the travelling fair.
And so, after much thought, wheezing and reddening of the face, I’ve gone and done what no occasional member of Her Majesty’s Press is ever meant to do. Please don’t think badly of me for this as I had no choice. I’ve given up drinking.
Now before you get the duff end of the stick, don’t get me wrong. I’m not scuttling off to any of those church hall meetings where nobody appears to have a surname and where they say (chirpily) “Hello, have you got a drink problem? Well done! Have a biscuit”. I’m not doing this in order to spend the rest of my life sanctimoniously glum; it’s just a temporary measure until people on the 125 to Paddington cease to think I’m en route to a fancy dress party as the Michelin Man.
The weird thing is, though, it bloody works. Obviously Mum’s the word on that as I don’t want any mates to know that I’m putting it about that we should scotch the Scotch, but I’ve lost four pounds. As I say, keep this to yourself because, to be honest, I’m a little fearful that if Blair’s mob hears that I’ve discovered this new slimming trick they might send round a hit squad.
Call me paranoid, but I think the Government wants to keep it well hushed up that wine will make a Womble of you. This must be the case because otherwise they’d detail the calorific chaos caused by a bottle of Beauj in a warning on its label, a bit like they do with those “smoking makes your wonker weak” alarms on packets of fags.
I know the Blair Fair says it wants the nation to get fit, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think they want a stupefied nation, that’s why they keep declaring public holidays every time that the Queen buys a new hat, any excuse to cause a booze-up.
Why? Because a stupefied nation is a subdued nation, an unquestioning nation, a hang-about-who-said-we-should-go-to-war-nation. That’s why they are hell-bent on extending pub opening hours to the point when it’s almost compulsory to drink at eight in the morning; they know that boozing is bad for us – particularly for us Fat At Fiftys (FAFs) – but they don’t want to let on about it because if we all clean up our acts in the process of drying out we’ll get our wits back and people will start asking “who exactly voted for this tosser?”
Besides avoiding the squirming embarrassment of answering questions from a nation that is not permanently too pissed to think clearly, there’s good economic policy in all this hushing up and it’s exactly the same fiscal reasoning that lay behind their move to declassify cannabis to the toxic status of a Love Heart. Not only does the more boozed and spliffed up they can make us mean that the less we are capable of examining the trail of who said what when about top-up fees, this also has the bonus of fattening up the strain on our tickers so that more FAFs like you and I pop off before our time and thereby save the State a fortune on paying out those pensions from the account that they say they’ve forgotten the PIN number for.
This makes sense.
Dear Hugh 2
Friday May 6th 2005
Christ! Hell of a day. I don’t know if I told you but since I gave up the publicity game because I could no longer cope with newspapers calling to ask me to ask Him for a quote on who He was wanting to win Big Brother or some such, I’ve been attempting to apply the old brain to working in the wonderland of television.
Let me warn you now, it’s not the glamour world of cocaine canapés that you might imagine it to be. Tell a lie, it is – there’s powder all over the shop - but none of it is fun.
To recap; having done the Fleet Street stint in my youth and then the rock & roll PR trip, I thought that TV was ripe for a bash. I mean, it’s quite obvious from the slightest glance at The Radio Times that television these days is scheduled by and for the retarded and so I was easily convinced by the lads who encouraged me that a mind such as mine could think of better programmes than that.
Well turn again Dick Whittington because it’s all changed since my day (said day being the brief period when I worked as a showbiz correspondent on BBC Breakfast Time before I was sacked at the insistence of producer Julia Smith for giving away EastEnders’ Christmas Day cliff-hanger live on air to an aghast and then-slender Eamonn Homes).
Let me tell you that it’s got so dire that was I to partially shave my head and dress up as Jacob Bronowski, standing up to my knees at Auschwitz in a grey swamp of the ashes of my kindred with the script for The Ascent Of Man in my hands, nobody would want to broadcast it. I know everyone complains that TV is only worth watching for the late-night porn these days, but now I’ve discovered that’s because of these all-in-black herberts who laud it under the title of Commissioning Editor. Dealing with them is like hanging about with the Hitler Jurgund, and those few of them that aren’t dykes are just as spotty-faced.
Try to get them interested in a proposed programme of culture or comedy (God forbid drama that features anybody who can act in character other than exactly the one they played in a soap opera) and all they do is yawn and pick at their pimples and ask you fiercely if there’s a cleaning lady who features in it.
All they seem to want is this reality guff that bears no resemblance to life led by anybody we know and programmes with titles like Push The Cripple Down The Stairs.
They appear to be very big on that, by the way, that tormenting of anyone unfortunate; oh yes, they’ll buy any amount of shows that feature paraplegics from Catford. Especially if your programme can in some way demonstrate that your featured cripple went to school with a someone who became a celebrity. In fact during a recent pitch a couple of these Com Eds became very fevered about my suggestion for a 20-part series starring celebrity presenters with piles and they then got very frosty when I said that The Grapes Of Ross was only a joke.
They got a bit sniffy after that. Well, first they went off to the toilet together; then they got a bit sniffy. As my colleagues were not glaring because I wasn’t playing the popular pursuit of love the Emperor’s new clothes, I tried to make light of it all by suggesting the worst programmes that you could possibly imagine. How about, I joked, a one-hour special for Five called “The World’s Greatest Gold-Diggers”?
“We’ve done that already”, they said.
OK, what about Fifty Worst Celebrity Hair Days?
“We’ve done that too”.
God, you are feral aren’t you? Alright, how about “The Biggest Pricks In Showbiz”?
“Is that something to do with Newsnight?”, they asked warily.
No, I explained, I was thinking more on the lines of a doco about famous blokes with big schlongs; you know, like Colin Farrell and Frank Sinatra, or Chris Evans.
“Is Chris Evans blessed? How do you know?”, they said.
I used to know one of his girlfriends (hi, Suze), I said.
They considered this for a few moments in a huddle of sniffing.
“Nah, it’d only work if we could see the blessing on camera”, they concluded, “And we’re not sure of the ITCA ruling on ginger pubes.
“Nice idea, though; got anything else? We’re looking for something really key, a programme that evokes the zeitgeist of living right here, right now. Your Push The Cripple idea is sort of on the right lines, but we don’t really like the title – it should be called Kick The Cripple Down The Stairs; it’s more alliterative, easier for the viewer to remember”.
Do your viewers have problems recalling a programme about hurling paraplegics down a stairwell, I asked, don’t you think that it might somehow stick in the mind?. But they ignored me contemptuously.
Dear Hugh 3
Well, that was a good start; I’ve been fired from the TV company. Well, kind of laid-off; not exactly Clear Your Desk, more of a We’ll Call You When Money Grows On Trees sort of thing. Apparently it had something to do with me calling ITV Commissioning Editors “cretins”. The office politic said that I should show more respect and I argued that it was somewhat difficult to respect people who believed that Celebrity Wrestling was the way of the future and then they said I wasn’t being a team player and it all spiralled downhill from there. I think the word “dickhead” may have come into play somewhere in the shouted confusion.
Anyway, for the second time in less than a year I’m back in the thrift shops and on the bread and potatoes diet again as I bemoan the lack of “high-paid writers wanted” in Marlborough’s situations vacant. I’m told that there is work to be found in a new factory in Devizes that prepares filled panini for an Italian food chain. Somebody suggested that I should work there for a while and then write about it but somehow I don’t have the confidence that there is a best-seller entitled A Year In Provolone.
Somebody else suggested that I try ringing around all my old contacts in the music biz to see if they had any work that they could toss my way but I’ve already tried that. It is quite astonishing to discover the widespread lack of interest from people who were ever-so chummy when they knew that I was close to My Ex. Still, to look on the bright side at least I know now that nobody will have to hire in outside caterers when it gets to my funeral; a couple of aunts buttering half a loaf of sliced Hovis should be sufficient.
A third benefactor from Bright Ideas Inc. urged me to try get back into journalism but I fear that much has changed there since the days when I got psoriasis on my hands from the newsprint, not least my willingness to knock at the gates of footballers’ gaudy mansions to enquire after the chances of a quote about what name Jordan should give to her forthcoming baby. Somehow I cannot find the conviction that there is merit in such celebrity obsession, but then what do I know? As has been already pointed out, I’m the trouble-maker who fails to appreciate Celebrity Wrestling’s entitlement to rank alongside Fawlty Towers and Roots. I don’t know what’s the matter with me but obviously I was off sick the day that the lobotomies were done at school.
Dear Hugh 4
Wednesday May 10th
I now have a dog. No job, but a best friend instead. Nice to have at least one, if you excuse present reading company.
I realise that the fact that I have spent all of my 49 years to date being dog-less rather insinuates that I am not of the Crufts persuasion, but as Brigitte Bardot rather excellently once said “only animals and imbeciles cannot change their minds”. Besides, I had to get one. The quack advised it. She was evidently sick of prescribing in triplicate the monthly renewals of my one-man bid to ingest most of the Roche company’s manufacture and so she advised me to get this dog.
When I wondered why she told me that apparently dogs are good for depression. I pointed out to her (rather curtly) that according to her diagnosis I already had depression, severe depression no less, and so I didn’t need a dog to go fetch it for me. Then she said that what she meant was that “studies showed” that walking a dog was a good cure for depression. I said why and she said it was to do with the exercise, apparently having a dog made you walk more briskly and rapid walking was good for the blues. So I said that if that was the case maybe I could speed up the process of my mental recovery by getting a gazelle. She said she thought I was mad and I said we had already established that.
Anyway, I now am Daddy to this long-haired bundle of Prozac called Jimi. I didn’t name him that; that was the name that he came with from the rescue centre. They said he was a stray from Ireland and that his name was Jimmy. Naturally, to make him feel at home, I spent the first few days of having him practising a thunderous Ian Paisley impression by yelling hurl, Jummuy and sut! But he paid sod-all attention to that, so I presume that he is from the south. Although I’m not sure about this because when I play him some rebel music on my tin whistle he cowers and leaves the room. But then so does everybody else.
Anyway, in a bid to show that we are right-on and cool we have named him Jimi after the creator of the Voodoo guitar that emanates at volume ear-bleed for all hours from the room of my youngest chile.
You are possibly curious about the breed of this here Jimi. I’ve been going about saying that he is cross between a retriever (because he looks like one) and a red setter (because his coat is redd-ish) but apparently I was wrong. Apparently the correct definition of his mongrelism is that he is a retriever and Tibetan spaniel cross. I think that they may have got this wrong because I looked up Tibetan spaniel on the Net and the dog displayed looked like the Dalai Lama had backed his bus into its face.
So I’m sticking to my red setter claim, not least because you know what adoptees get like; they reach an age when they start demanding details of their parentage and the last thing I want in a few years’ time is a dog with a shaved head, wearing an orange dress and stinking up the house with incense.
Anyway he is very loving and I am rapidly discovering why I have not had a dog before. Aside from the fact that I am taking so many walks that I’m in line for the Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award, there is the problem with grooming.They said that he needs to have his hair brushed once a day. Of course I protested that brushing mine once a year had to date proved perfectly adequate but they argued back that I was not prone to getting ticks. I thought it wise not to enlighten them on that one and so off we went again to the pet shop to add to my already-sizeable donation to its proprietor’s pension plan.
As you can guess, I had to seek an assistant’s help on finding a hairbrush, as I have very little experience of what one looks like, but this done I returned home with a determination to groom him with all of the enthusiasm of Marie Antoniette’s handmaid.
Damn me if I didn’t find a tick straight away! After yelling that I had discovered something burrowed into the fur on his back, I called for help to hold him down whilst I fetched the tweezers. I plucked it off and was surprised that it came away without me having to resort to the traditional method of burning it off with a cigarette.
Damn odd-looking tick, I thought, examining the thing in the tweezers that looked as if it had some form of copper wire in its head. It was only later that I discovered that I had torn out Jimi’s micro-chip implant. Still, it’s early days and if this regime of five walks a day keeps up, I’m told that I’ll be out of this cell in no time. Shame, as I shall miss its padding.
Dear Hugh 5
Wednesday May 11th 2005
As you know, there is little better than driving through a town with the windows down, playing Springsteen’s Rosalita so loudly that people in the street outside can’t hear themselves talk.
But I’ve noticed that this practice is sadly dying out among chaps of our age. Like the playing of Conkers and Cribbage, the noisy old man is becoming a thing of past and happier days as more and more tune safely instead to the cheap-amphetamine babble that is “Five Live”, the nation’s only radio station seemingly staffed by those on work experience.
Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not saying the streets are quiet now. Far from it. But unfortunately the monopoly these days is held by teenage drug-dealers glowering along to the ding-a-donga rap booming from their uninsured BMWs. Which is perfectly fine for the deaf and for those who live in perpetual hope that one day a rap song will be written which includes the novelty of a melody. But although I’m up for free noise for everybody, I just wonder when did we middle-agers lose the will to make a din for ourselves?
Keith Richards, my style and health guru, once questioned why rock and roll “should only be the preserve of juveniles and adolescents” and, as he is with most things of a rebellious nature, he was right. Just because we can steer the car with our beer bellies these days, it doesn’t mean that we have to act our age.
As you know, I am forever bemoaning the fact that we baby boomers of the Sixties vintage should not be expected to behave like our fathers and grandfathers did before us, because we were weaned on far too much freedom of thought for us to get “normal” and conservative in our autumn years.
Like it or not, we are what David Bailey called “The New Old”, a generation that is distinct for not been replicas of its parents. We do not dress, vote, think or party like previous generations did at our age. Look at the statistics; 85% of the wealth in the UK is created by the over-45s, 62% of albums are bought by the over-40s, sales of Harley Davidsons are significantly highest to those of our mob, and I’ve yet to meet a menopausal male who does not hanker to own a Fender or a Gibson. Or at least an Epiphone copy. Even our drugs are better quality than our kids’ gear.
And yet popular culture treats us like lepers and because of their indifference we of Our Age feel so insignificant that we have taken to acting like dogs, curled up quietly beneath the table of the banquet of life.
Television, newspapers and especially Radio 1 gives scant regard to the massive disposable income that we collectively possess as they would far rather chase after the attention of the penniless pimple people simply because some drunk from the marketing department has told them that it is more cool to appeal to kids. It may be rubbish economics, but it’s cooler. So that’s alright then.
Of course, the world’s worst offender in this plague of ignoring Our Generation of chaps is ITV. I don’t know who is making the decisions there these days but they really ought to be taken out the back and shot for crimes against common sense.
The schedules are bad enough in the week, when you can’t move for programmes that all seem to need to feature a cleaning lady, but at least we miss most of them because we’re working late. But you’d have thought that there might be someone of CSE intelligence at ITV who could have worked out that there is no point screening programmes for teenagers on weekend nights because, on weekend nights, teenagers are out being teenagers and are therefore not watching. So of course the ratings are falling, idiot, because the target audience is elsewhere and the audience that is in cannot be captivated by the like of the grotesquely-puerile Celebrity Wrestling.
Just as a side-bar, by the way, how do you think the black-suited geniuses at ITV came up with Celebrity Wrestling? I mean, how many years did you have to spend at Cambridge to create that one? Personally I think the whole thing was just the result of somebody at the MIP festival getting hold of Howard Marks’s stash, because if ever there was a four in the morning idea, Celebrity Wrestling is it. As I say, shoot the beggars. But sue them first for conspiracy to destroy intelligence.
Anyway, back to the issue and the point is that unless we start making a noise for ourselves we will be further condemned to the dustbins of inconsequence that are our sheds. So get out in the car, wind down the windows, tune in, turn on and turn it up. I recommend Springsteen’s No Surrender. Or anything by Keef.
Dear Hugh 6
Thursday May 12th 2005
It may not surprise you to hear that there has been a complaint. Frankly, I was astonished at the audacity of the moan and I was of a mind to write back and say “get stuffed” when the chaps in the legal department here explained that that everybody had to be PC these days. I said to them don’t start lecturing me about the meaning of acronyms, where I come from PC stands for “pushy coon” and what’s wrong with that?
Anyway, it has transpired that apparently I’ve upset BMW. Another acronym, which I believe stands for Bavarian Military Wanderlust or some such. It seems that the Kaiser’s Kin have taken exception to me recently suggesting in this column that their cars are favoured by pushers and gangsters.
Typical! So it’s my fault that hoodlums buy their cars. I said to them, don’t blame me; why don’t you just not sell to hooligans? And, of course, being clever, they said how should they go about doing that and I said they should put a poster up in the showroom saying “ACTUNG! NEIN RAP FANS” and they got all huffy.
Not that you’d catch me in a BMW. I mean, nice mountains and all that and the bier’s fairly good cop, but ever since BM made itself the Laurel And Hardly of the motor game by buying Skoda, how can you be sure that you’re buying a dream machine and not a disguised chunk of eastern gunk? I know they’ll say it’s legit but it wasn’t so long ago that they were saying “Oops! Did we go round the Maginot Line? Silly us! Oh well, seeing as we’re here anyway we might as well bomb you”.
By the way, some clever clogs on the subs’ desk has come over to say that it’s Volkswagen and not BMW that owns Skoda. As if that changes my point one jot.
Mind you, I do have to be careful what I write here because apparently these days you can’t go around suggesting that we resort back to thwacking skivers with sticks outside the Jobcentre. Apparently I’m not even allowed to call people skivers; according to the EC or something you can only call them Temporarily Unfulfilled Merchants of Labour or something as easy to remember.
And I’ve just been told that apparently you can’t call them “tossers” either.
So, as I say, I have to watch my words. Look at what happened to old Kilroy-Silk and I don’t mean all the offers of a shag that he gets. No, I mean all of that Arab malarkey when that bloke who’s obviously just got contact lenses, Quack Straw or some such, got all arsey about Kilroy daring to mention the acquired Middle Eastern taste of lopping a bird’s head off for charvering anybody other than her old man.
Naturally, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that if they didn’t have any oil, you’d be able to call them more names than you can shake a stick at. But perhaps it does take somebody of above the average wit to predict that the Saudis are going to really catch it in the neck when their wells dry up in 2025. Talk about letting it all out; everybody’s going to be on their case, especially about them wearing dresses to the G8 meetings.
Anyway, the point is that I’ve got to be damn careful what I write about, so the least said about the Arabs. Lovely people. Nice sand.
By the way, I forgot to thank you for your kind gift of that dried tea that you sent me with the postcard from Amsterdam . A slightly bitter taste, perhaps, but I rather like it. I’ve been having a drop while I’ve been writing this. As I say, odd tang to it. And it doesn’t half seem to speed up your sense of time; I feel like I’ve been writing for days.
Or is it slows time down? I can never work it out. Work what out? What time? Where? How did I get here?
Anyway, your tea is very pleasant – although I do find that it makes me utterly famished; if I’m dunking I need an entire pack of digestives. And some chocolate on the side. With a cheese and pickle sarnie and any crisps that are going spare.
Here’s another thing. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but my diet does not appear to be working very well. Odd, because I’ve not touched a drop for almost four weeks now. They said that the weight would “fall off” if I stopped drinking. Curiously not, though. All that seems to happen is that I’m drinking a lot of tea. But I appear to be laughing a great deal more, so that’s something.
Must go; feeling a bit peckish.
May 12, 2005
Leaning over the gate
I'm afraid you will have to talk amongst yourselves; long day at a wake today and tomorrow at 7 in the morning I have to give a seminar on Customer Satisfaction at Bath University. If I had any customers and if they were happy I might have something to say; so I suppose I will dust off the ARSE management notes (Anticipate, Respond, Soft-soap and Execute) and see if that keeps them quiet between the coffee and croissants - why the hell did I volunteer?
Open Comment post then!
Good Morning Ms Memoli!
Maria Memoli MBA who is Kennet's Monitoring Officer has kindly replied to my letter of the 28th March - An Englishman's Castle: Kennet Council and the SWRA.
As she points out she has been very busy with elections etc, which is why I haven't pushed for a reply. She also notes that the correspondence has been published on a website! (Though I haven't actually put her full reply up - only my own outgoing letters.) So I presume she will read this - pleased to have you on board.
She believes I criticised her and sounds hurt - I don't believe I did, but may I publicly apologise to her for any offence caused. Not my intention at all. I will digest her reply and post at length when I have time. A quick skim through seems to say it is up to the members to declare interests, no one checks, so as Monitoring Officer she is happy all is OK.
(Quote - "Although I am the custodian of the Register of interests, the onus is on the Members themselves to register their interests ...declaring interests, this is a matter for the Members themselves...In conclusion, therefore, I am satisfied that members of the Council have registered their interests.."
(Well if it is OK for the EU why not for Kennet Council?)
Dragging us down
The change is being pushed through as a "health and safety" measure, allowing Brussels to circumvent the British veto.
Government sources said they remained confident of securing enough support from other countries to block the measure when it goes before EU employment ministers early next month.
But it presents Mr Blair with an embarrassing wrangle over who runs Britain's employment policy at the start of his third term in power.
Removal of the opt-out would oblige firms and employees to keep time sheets listing how long they worked, including hours spent working at home. Only top executives would be exempt.
A wide range of staff with "decision-making" roles - originally exempt - would be subject to the 48-hour limit. Records would have to be available for instant inspection at any time.
All "on-call" time for doctors, nurses, firemen, security staff and others at their places of work would be treated as ordinary work time, even if they were asleep.
No need to rehearse the arguments - I think we all know them!
Ceterum censeo Unionem Europaeam esse delendam
BBC to start being impartial..
BBC coverage of the European Union must be made more sophisticated, the corporation's news division has said.
The BBC was responding to an independent inquiry which said its reporting of the EU must become "more demonstrably impartial".
...It found no evidence of deliberate bias in BBC reporting but it said there was a "widespread perception" of "certain forms of cultural and unintentional bias" which had to be corrected. ....The response also says there will be a new system to measure the impact BBC journalism has on its audience in terms of promoting "informed citizenship" and understanding in EU issues.
So still going to promoted "informed citizenship"! Doesn't sound like it views informed non-citizenship of the EU as a desirable option to aim for....
A heard Jeremy Vine on the car radio, a day or so ago, musing as he was approaching 40 should he start thinking of himself as "European" rather than "British". Not that that implies a fixed mind set; after all a year or so ago he asked the question : ‘Should Britain Leave the EU’, 13,500 listeners phoned in and of that number, a colossal 92 per cent said ‘YES’.
"In countries like Germany and France, where frankly because of a tighter social market they have much higher levels of unemployment, there is increasing anxiety about other people coming in," he said.
In other words the EU causes poverty and Xenophobia...
Who said it?
Jack Straw - I'm glad he is in favour of the EU otherwise I would hate to see how he would critise it if he was against it.
May 11, 2005
Right wing bloggers in the States have been crowing as to what a mess and failure The Huffington Post is.
It is group blog by the left, with famous names giving their opinions - for instance the bookies mad Kerry favourite to win from the exit poles, therefore he must have been the winner and Karl Rove stole the election (the other option that ht e bookies called it wrong and people like me made money from them is not mentioned).
So Moonbat opinions, but also a lot of other stuff. In fact pretty good for a startup - whether they can keep it up for the long run is another matter. But it does have one major flaw - no search engine.
Last night I noticed an article by an insider about how "Labor" (sic, oh how upset they would be if I wrote Eskimo or Peking but they can't even get the name of what they are writing about right!) won the election. No search, can't see it , limit on how much Huff Guff I can wade through to find it for you so if you are interested find it yourself....
So on with the green eyeshade this morning to try and make sense of and comment on the Tory reshuffle. After a few minutes of research and depression I turn to EU Referendum Blog - which has provided a complete guide to it, Tory Boys and Ostriches. Tony must have spring in his step this morning.
May 10, 2005
60 Years Ago
The war in Europe was over, and yet for many Allied PoWs their suffering was only just starting to come to an end. In December 1944, some 270,000 American, British, and Commonwealth prisoners were sent on the road so they wouldn't be liberated by the advancing Russians. One in ten died. After the war their horrors were dwarfed by the Japanese atrocities and the image of PoWs in Germany was set by the "Escape" films. My father was one of those PoWs and only ever spoke briefly of it so I can recommend this book as an excellent eye-opening account.
Nichol (himself a PoW during the first Gulf War) and Rennell have dug out the stories of these men, who were marched for hundreds of miles through one of the worst winters Germany has ever experienced--half frozen, generally unfed, racked with dysentery, and apt at any moment to be shot by a German guard or strafed by Allied aircraft who had no idea who they were. Afterwards, their ordeal was forgotten by all but themselves. An excellent account of an unknown atrocity, which left thousands dead and other thousands crippled for life.
May 9, 2005
Back in Harness
Hounding the anti-hunters
Massive and unprecedented local campaigning by hunt supporters has contributed to the ousting of 29 anti-hunting former MP's. 3.4 million leaflets were delivered, 2.1 million envelopes hand-addressed 55,000 posters erected and 170,000 campaigning man hours provided in a nationally co-ordinated initiative.....shown that when enough people get involved in politics with a purpose and in an organised and focussed way they can, and have, made a difference."
This has been the rehearsal..
An interesting new phenomenon in UK politics - MPs, watch your backs..
Vote Yes or the Jews Get It
Vote for EU constitution or risk new Holocaust, says Brussels
Margot Wallstrom, a Swede and the commissioner who must sell the draft constitution to voters,.. (accused) Eurosceptics of risking a return to the Holocaust by clinging to "nationalistic pride"....blamed the Second World War on "nationalistic pride and greed, and … international rivalry for wealth and power". The EU had replaced such rivalry with an historic agreement to share national sovereignty.
Her fellow commissioners also issued a joint declaration, stating that EU citizens should pay tribute to the dead of the Second World War by voting Yes to the draft constitution for Europe.
The commissioners also gave the EU sole credit for ending the Cold War, making no mention of the role of Nato and the United States.
From Sweden? "Sweden was Nazi Germany's largest trading partner during the war and almost the sole source of high-grade iron ore and precision ball bearings for the German war machine. Imports of the latter from Sweden were especially important following the destruction of the VKF ball bearing plant (itself Swedish-owned) at Schweinfurt by the US Eighth Air Force in August and October 1943..."
TEBAF (The Ever Blessed and Fragrant) Magot uses VE day to make a cheap political point - may she rot.
Why don't they ever warn of the risk of a new Yugoslavia? - you know, a group of nations forced together into a federation against their will which then explodes...
May 8, 2005
At long last Europe is safe from the threat of B-17s
On the eve of the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two, new European regulations have grounded the UK’s much-loved Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, Sally B.....
Tell me that is what they fought and died for...
The Tories Gored Labour in England, winning the popular vote by 60,000 more votes than Labour. (The Tories picked up 8,086,306 votes, Labour trailed with just 8,028,512.) So its fair to say that England is under foreign occupation by a Scottish socialist party unsupported by the population, with only 1 in 5 of the English backing the regime. Expect the Campaign for an English Parliament to gain traction if not actually start an insurgency...
To the barricades!
May 7, 2005
So how was it for you darling? You call THAT an Election!
Open Comment Thread to get us through Election day...
May 6, 2005
Something for the weekend Sir?
Off to the range, as Kim would say, seems the best thing to do today.
Image taken on 6/5/2005 15:33
May 5, 2005
Having sold my vote to the highest bidder I popped into the Pub for a quick refresher - ran into The Good Colonel - how any pints later I managed to get home, so for those in similar peril (I daren't go upstairs) here is a warning.
Yes, the bolster is drawn across the bed, with barbed wire entanglements and snipe holes arranged. The only way to avoid enemy hostilities and the odd Toffee Apple coming over will be to stride boldly in and slap the Present Mrs E on the rump and say "Guess who is horny?". Normally this results in a silence to pass all silences, but tonight I'm afraid I might be taken up on the offer....
Wish me luck as I go over the top....
The kids discover Paddy will roll over for a tickle
Image taken on 4/5/2005 17:11
A considered opinion
The voice of the annoyed - not work safe, contains very rude words....
Fucked the country over a barrel, sent us into an unsupported war, removed democracy from the great democratic nation of England and is about as conservative as they come without being a tory, yet somehow the public failed to notice that he was leading Labour!
Tony Blair He's a lying, conniving, war-mongering, minger shagging, despotic, Dubya poodle, fenian, toadying, piss cock wanker of a cheese dicked cunt. And if you think you're getting my vote, ya cunt, you more of a cunt than I think you are. Oh no you can't be! Cunt.
1. For being the second most arrogant bastard on the planet (apart from Bush)
2. For taking us into a war that had nothing to do with us.
3. For swamping the country with illegal immigrants and for just hating England in general, you Chianti swilling cunt.
4. For wrecking the pensions system; my husband and I now look forward to poverty in our old age thanks to you - I'd like to knife you in the gut and then cut your non-existent bollocks off.
5. For trying to railroad us into Europe - if you like it so much then please fuck off there and never come back again; you can't even decide what religion you want to be so how can you decide on the future of our country you jug eared loon.
6. For not being dead yet - I wouldn't bother to piss on your grave!
A US lobby group has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of Quorn, claiming the meat alternative is not "healthy and delicious" as the makers contend, but can in fact cause life threatening allergies.
Just the idea of it makes me nauseous - can I sue?
And this is what happens if you turn veggie...
The "mass graveyard" of a bird-like dinosaur has been uncovered in Utah, US, Nature magazine reports this week.
Scientists believe the previously unknown species was in the process of converting to vegetarianism from a rather more bloodthirsty diet.
You end up extinct!
A ray of hope?
There is an outside chance that, by Friday, we could be looking at a Conservative government - albeit with a wafer-thin majority. More realistically, we could be looking at the "dream scenario" where Labour's majority is cut to around 30, with the majority of votes cast in England going to the Conservatives.
Either way, bearing in mind that the Conservatives are the only major party to reject the EU constitution, and are prepared to fignt for a "no" vote in the referendum, things are looking brighter than they have for a long time.
May 4, 2005
Say "Britain" to me and the stream of imagery conjured up is Pith Helmets Tiffin Tiger Hunts on Elephants Cold Hard Steel Don't Like it Up Em Zulus! Thousands of Them Finest Hour Monty in the Desert For you Tommy, ze var is over Great Escape Take me with you, I can see, I can see perfectly Barnes Wallace Dambusters NAAAA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NAAA-NA-NAA James Bond Licensed to Kill Sharpe Vot is your name? Don't tell him, Pike Stupid Boy.
Which brings us on to Englishness - the stream of imagery I associate with this word is King Arthur Flag St George Football Violence Enoch Powell Rivers of Blood.
Quite - while "Your Mileage May Vary" there is more than a grain in truth in that.
The reason this Blog was called An Englishman's Castle wasn't because I was an English Nationalist but simply a poor pun on a "Home" page - but because of the name I have learnt a lot, and become to some extent an English Nationalist.
But the England I believe in is a Taurean, placid, tolerant place - bucolic and green; but when tweaked capable of violence and rage. Not a nation founded on race but on a common culture, respects and language. Not constrained by geography, creed, breeding or birth - open to all who wish to belong. Feared and despised by many but a benefactor to most.
Put upon and yoked by foreign rulers, but strong enough to make it through such times to regain its freedoms.
My England is different to Your England but Our England is a grand place; worth fighting for.
The Day before
BBC NEWS | Election 2005 | Election 2005
and nothing interesting to note. If ever there was a "Phony Election" this was it.
May 3, 2005
This is it - today's the day.
This morning, at 10am, a group of drivers will cause a rolling roadblock of the M4 motorway by driving at a steady 56mph between Membury Services near Hungerford and Junction 17, for Chippenham. "We don't want to hold people up, or become a safety risk, we just want to get our point over," says protest organiser Robin Summerhill.
And that point is? The decision by Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership to place mobile speed-camera vans along the motorway....
It (is) claimed that some 12 million motorists have been caught by speed cameras since their introduction in 1992, raising £700 million in speeding fines. It (is) also suggested that these 12 million fined motorists will make a powerful voting block in the forthcoming general election.
Maybe in the next one....
I hope the bunny huggers are happy
The ban on hunting with hounds has increased the suffering of foxes as more are shot and wounded, according to research published this month.
The study, which appears in the May issue of Animal Welfare, the journal of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, undermines claims by the RSPCA and League Against Cruel Sports that hunting, until it was banned, caused more suffering than shooting.
The study showed that up to 50 per cent of foxes shot with shotguns were wounded, not killed.
"The ban has guaranteed that the time and money invested by the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA has increased animal suffering. We told them this would happen. This is the cost of ignoring that warning."
I have had to dispatch two foxes suffering from gangrenous gunshot wounds, one with tyre lever as it was all I had to hand. It is not a nice way to go.
It never was about the fox - bastards.
Sir Digby tells the teachers
Schools are wrapping children in cotton wool rather than encouraging them to take risks, Sir Digby Jones, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said yesterday.
"Unless you educate children about risk, get them to understand it, get them to embrace it, then we will fail as a nation and fall behind our economic rivals," he said. "China will have our lunch and India will have our dinner."
Sir Digby told head teachers meeting in Telford, Shropshire, that he was alarmed some schools did not hold sports days or, when they did, made sure there were no winners or losers.
"I want sports days," he added. "I want medals for first, second and third, not for everyone who takes part. I want exams that you can fail. But we must reach down to those who do not come first, second or third and give them the confidence to find out what they are good at."
Now that is the sort of thing we should be politicising about - not the blather that the Parties have been on about over the weekend.
A Spanish designer has come up with what could be the perfect solution for the woman who feels frustrated that she has to do all the house chores.
It is a washing machine called "Your Turn", which will not let the same person use it twice in a row.
Ye Gods man, I'm not sure what the economy is like in Spain but if Johnny Dago think I can afford to employ a second Laundry Maid then he hasn't experienced life under Tax and Waste Brown.
May 2, 2005
Say hello to the new Boy Patrick
He has abit of growing to do.But then he has a job to do
Image taken on 2/5/2005 7:44