Saturday, 30 June 2012

Shakespeare's 'Let him have it Chris!'

I was watching 'Let him have it' last night - the story of Derek Bentley. The story is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Cases like this are the main reason I'm so against the death penalty.

The trial was conducted by Lord Chief Justice Goddard who, legend has it, used to have to send his trousers off to the cleaners after passing the death sentence or sentencing boys to be birched. Apparently his valet was the source for this story, but I somehow doubt its veracity.

I wonder if CEOs of banks like Hamlet or Macbeth? One thing's for sure; they're in desperate need of performance enhancing drugs. The argument that bank chiefs need to be paid millions in order to attract the best talent has certainly been found wanting. The high salaries seem to attract incompetent thieves who do not know the meaning of the word honour. 

The banking scandal, the MP's expenses debacle, the phone hacking business, the Catholic shenanigans - all go to prove self-regulation doesn't work. We humans are just too morally frail for that.

I don't know why, but the Blogger editor keeps wanting to insert a white background on some of my text. I keep having to re-edit posts to eliminate the HTML manually.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Bugger the Euro

Never mind about bailing out the Euro, I want to know if the ECB is going to bail out the flood-hit north of England!

I'll bet the banks are behind this terrible weather.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Quantum Big Ben Time for Rich People

I performed several important scientific experiments yesterday.

  1. I filled the kettle, plugged it in and then watched it intently. It actually boiled!
  2. According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, nothing is ever where you left it, or if it is then you can't see it at the time of looking - also known as the Law of the Excluded Bloke. Anyway, I left my car keys on the caravan table and half an hour later they were still there - Incredible!
Is it true that they (whoever 'they' are) are renaming the Big Ben Tower Big Betty? Did you see Mrs Queen wearing an upturned Wedgwood fruit bowl on her head the other day? Strange headgear, but it takes all sorts I suppose.

All power to her for shaking McGuinness' had yesterday - and all power to McGuinness too. It just had to be done, regardless of what the die-hards say. The one taking the greater risk is McGuinness.

I see Barclays has been fined for manipulating market figures. A bunch of the directors have, as a consequence, foregone their annual bonus. One of theese directors is called Rich Ricci, a name which doesn't exactly instil within me confidence in the banking sector. Sounds more like a Mafia don or gangster - a bankster.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

PPI Claims

Ring, ring:

Automated Voice: "We have information on your PPI claim and know how much you are owed. Press 5 to fast-track your application."

Chairman: Presses 5 and gets through to an operative. There follows a brief kerfuffle as he tries to get to grips with the Chairman's surname.

Operative: "Have you had a mortgage in the last 10 years?"

Chairman: "No."

Operative: "Credit card borrowing?"

Chairman: "No."

Operative: "Store card borrowing?"

Chairman: "No."

This goes on through several more debt options.

Operative: "Have you had any borrowings at all in the last 10 years?"

Chairman: "You should know that - your auto-dialler said you knew all about my case and how much I'm owed."

Operative: Click.

The irony is that I wasted my time, as they will not amend their database - it's simply not worth their time. The satisfaction, however, was enormous and hopefully I made someone feel uneasy about what they are doing.

Firms having sold PPI illegally are obliged to contact their customers to pay them a refund. These PPI claims companies are just trying to make a fast buck.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Remember the days when Ribena tasted nice?

Called in at a service station yesterday on the A30 for a cold drink and had a Ribena - never tasted anything so sickly-sweet in my life. Had to buy a bottle of water to get rid of the taste and quench my thirst.

The label says 'no added sugar'; I'm not surprised - it's loaded with aspartame (along with a myriad other chemicals).

Filthy stuff! Totally destroyed the image I'd retained of Ribena from my youth.

The bottle even says it's not suitable for children under 3. In that case, it's not suitable for anyone, as babies are humans too (just).

Monday, 25 June 2012

Honesty is the Best Policy

Overheard in the Caravan:

Hay's Dad: "They do say honesty is the best policy."

Chairman: "Rubbish - I'd go for fully comprehensive, or 3rd party, fire and theft as a minimum."

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Bits 'n' Bobs

Ordered the cooker, wood burner, oak flooring and kitchen for the house yesterday.

There seems to be a helluva not of wasted space on the left-hand side of the electric cooker when you consider that only the two door on the right are ovens. The bottom left door gives access to the controls and heaven only known what's behind the upper left quadrant. Added to that it takes the space of two normal cookers and has only 2 induction hobs on the top.

We're augmenting the cooker with a separate, 2-ring gas hob running off LPG as a backup. Similarly, the wood burner is only a back-up to the under-floor heating.

Drains were being laid on Friday and we had to disconnect the waste pipes from the caravan while they did it; however, the builders couldn't complete the job and thus we can't pull the plug on the sink, have a shower or use the toilet till tomorrow.

We have to install a different type of wood floor downstairs due to the under-floor heating - got to use engineered oak, which basically is an oak veneer on a plywood base to strengthen it against warping. Under-floor heating can play havoc with solid oak, so that's reserved for upstairs.

The kitchen maker gave us the colour chart the other day - Farrow & Ball, no less. Apparently he makes stuff for the Prince of Wales' Highgrove shops, which came as a bit of a shock - thought he was just a small artisan kitchen maker.

I think Hay is opting for the National Trust olive green that's popular at present. I always think it's a mistake to go for fashionable colours - remember all those pampas and  avocado bathroom suites that had to be taken out and dumped in the 90s?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

In Praise of Immigrants

I see Milliband is now saying we need caps on immigrants.

There's a little country at the eastern end of the Mediterranean which never even existed 60 years ago. The people who emigrated there were from a myriad races - Indian, Arab, European, Ethiopian, African and what-have-you. They were drawn there with one purpose; to create a new country, and they called it Israel.

They all had just one thing in common - they were nominally Jewish. Not all of them were religious; indeed only 25% of the Israeli population today can be considered practising Jews.

However, race and nationality were not a barrier to them coming - all with a Jewish root were welcome, became assimilated, learned Hebrew and eventually took Israeli citizenship. Today, a third or Israelis were not born there. If you go out on the streets in the major cities you will see Israelis of all hues and national backgrounds. OK, the Ethiopians haven't integrated so well, but there will always be exceptions.

The largest influx - some 200,000 a year, arrived when the Iron Curtain fell, and they're still arriving, but no longer in such huge numbers.

Israel has the highest immigration in the world for its size, yet it has a thriving economy and has avoided most of the problems we are contending with.

The secret of the success of the Israeli immigration process was positive assimilation and not just leaving the immigrants to gather in ghettos to make their own way. They also have to earn the right to citizenship through hard work - citizenship is not an automatic right; if they don't make the grade, they're out.

The Land of the Free itself is comprised of immigrants and the UK has seen successive waves of immigrants. Their descendants now call themselves American or British. I myself was an immigrant in the early 1960s and couldn't speak a word of English, but I now consider myself British (note British, not English).

While I agree numbers have to be sustainable, there are ways of handling immigrants that ensure they contribute and don't become a problem. Many countries can learn from the Israeli experience.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Jimmy's Lighbulb Tax

What's all this rot about Jimmy Carr and his tax?

I hear he pays something like 1%, and assuming he earns a (conservative) million quid a year, then he pays for a couple of married pensioners (assuming, of course, they're not Mrs Queen and Prince Philip).

As I see it, Jimmy is putting the money he doesn't pay in tax into his bank account, from where it's lent to people to buy houses or invest in their businesses. What is the government doing right now? Putting tax money into banks so they can lend it to people to buy houses or invest in their businesses. Cut out the government middleman, I say!

Rather than moaning about Jimmy's entirely legal means of avoiding having to pay tax, perhaps politicians should be more worried about a system which they oversee and allows him to do this entirely legal thing. You'd have to be mad to pay more tax than you need to.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who never pay any tax at all - they're the feckless, able-bodied bastards who have never worked a single day in their miserable lives. They upset me far more than Jimmy Carr and his tax affairs.

Anyone know where I can buy some illegal, old-style lightbulbs? I'm heartily pissed off with these new-fangled, energy-saving ones. They dim after no time at all and you can't dispose of the bloody things without a radiation suit on - and no-one will take them anyway. 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Tapping Elitism

The Chairman hears GCSEs are to be dumped in favour of a return to O-levels and CSEs. Critics say it's a return to elitism in education. The Chairman says it's about time; we've seen the result of putting mediocrity on a pedestal and it has failed our children miserably. 

The London 2012 Festival - an inflatable Stonehenge - shades of Spinal Tap?

Talking of Stonehenge - I note the days are drawing in. Soon be winter...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Liverpool's NHS at the BBC with Brillo

Overheard in the Caravan:

The Chairman: "Why do they have this postcode lottery on NHS services?"

Hay: "It's not a lottery - they adapt scarce resources to the most pressing local needs. For example, in Liverpool, due to the high unemployment, you'll find more services for depression, mental health, drug dependency....."

Chairman: "....and speech therapy, if Steven Gerrard is anything to go by!"

Talking of footballers, can't say I'm impressed with Rooney's new barnett - looks like he's sporting a Brillo pad on his bonce.

I'm starting a new game - spot the spelling and grammar mistakes on the BBC news website (and they say the BBC hasn't dumbed down...).

Yesterday's contribution: "He also worked with John Lennon to turn Lennon's book, In His Own Write, in to a play which he then directed at the National Theatre."

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Trojan Horses

It strikes me as strange how the Greek vote to stay in the Euro is being viewed with relief by Eurocrats when it simply means billions more having to be poured into the black hole of the Greek economy with no end in sight. Next it will be Spain and Italy.

Beware of Eurocrats bearing gifts - especially ones called economists.

As architects of the Euro project, the names of Fred Arditti, Neil Dowling, Wim Duisenberg, Robert Mundell, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa and Robert Tollison will go down in history, but for all the wrong reasons.

I guess economics will join the ranks of alchemy and astrology.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Nuclear Option

A £1bn contract for reactors for the next generation of the UK's nuclear-armed submarines is to be announced.

How the hell are nuclear subs going to be of any use against the threats we now face; bankers, corrupt IOC officials and the architects of the Euro?

I think I'm going to join the CBD - the Campaign for Banker Disarmament.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Not Worth Doing Business With?

I was in a meeting in Genoa on Wednesday - nice glitzy meeting room with all the usual refinements; however, the only water on display was in a jug with come ice cubes. 

It was hideous - not a drop of expensive, designer mineral water to be had, not even that crappy Scottish stuff that tastes of hydrocarbons (not that you'd find that in Italy anyway).

I could tell my host was embarrassed when he caught my eye critically evaluating the jugged water. He probably thought I was going to phone the International Court of Human Rights and demand an immediate arrest. 

I have to ask myself: "Is this business worth dealing with?"

Friday, 15 June 2012

Islamic Democracy

Is Islamic Democracy an oxymoron? It certainly seems a lost cause.

It would appear that when Islamic nations get democracy, they don't really know what to do with it and end up fighting each other until another strong man rises to the top.

You can count the number of 'free' Islamic democracies on the fingers of.... well, three fingers!

My greatest fear is that the number of incorrupt 'free' democracies is going the same way.

Thursday, 14 June 2012


Am I out of touch?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Gay Rain in Genoa

You know the situation - you're driving along on the motorway, it starts to rain and you suddenly remember you forgot to fill the window washer reservoir, resulting in a nastily smeared windscreen. The worst part is once the rain stops and you have to negotiate lorry spray.

It struck me yesterday that the very stuff you need to fill your reservoir is sheeting off the car itself, so why don't car manufacturers develop some device to recycle the rainwater by filtering it and diverting it to the washer reservoir - or at least a secondary one specifically for this purpose. Neat idea, or what?

All this kerfuffle about gay marriages has raised its ugly head again. Has anyone thought of asking the head of the CofE what she thinks? I guess not. It strikes me that any organisation that falls back on tradition and never updates itself is destined to become irrelevant and anachronistic, which is a pity, as I do believe the church has a role to play in social cohesion. There's nothing else currently to fill that gap, except football, reality TV and Paris Hilton.

Do you think the church's traditional purpose is to bully gay people and those outside the tribe?

Had to fly to Genoa yesterday (why is the luggage on sale in airports to damned expensive - in fact, why is everything so expensive in airports? Time was when you could buy bargains in duty free; these days they are an excuse to rip you off). Had I been on time in Paris CDG, I would have had only 40 minutes to pass through passport control, catch a bus to another terminal and go through security again (imagine T4 to T5 at LHR).

Given the gates close 20 minutes before departure, there was never any chance I was going to make the flight to Genoa - but leaving LHR 40 minutes late made it beyond impossible. Regardless of leaving LHR late, Air France should not be selling connections that are impossible to connect with. Bastard French! I felt like shouting 1-1 at the top of my voice.

As it was, I left home at 08:00 and didn't arrive in my hotel in Lavagna (50km outside Genoa) till midnight.

Heading for Rome for 2 days this evening.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Begging in the Streets

You know how you see people using kids to beg in the streets? Well, I saw the middle class equivalent yesterday in Bath.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Vested Interests

Rank and file policemen are making a bit of a fuss over the prospective appointment of Tom Windsor as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, saying he surely needs experience as a police officer to do the job effectively.

Since the creation of the position of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, there has not been a single serving prison officer or governor appointed to the position. Doesn't seem to have either caused a kerfuffle or been a hindrance.

Cameron himself has never had experience of leading a country before being appointed PM - mind you, some would say he's a dismal failure.

Windsor has experience as a regulator, and what is the Chief Inspector of Constabulary if not a regulator?

Excuse me, I have to go; I think there's an American drone circling overhead.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Forced Marriage?

The government is bringing in laws to prevent forced marriages. I suppose forced marriages should not be confused with arranged marriages.

Marrying the person you actually want to marry is a relatively new thing as far as the humanity is concerned. Throughout the vast majority of civilisation, partners for one's children have been carefully selected on the basis of status, wealth, family ties, mutual alliances and the like.

When you think of it, marriage is one of the most important decisions of your children's lives - so should it be left to mere children with no experience of life to make - especially at a time when their brains are flooded with oxytocin, which alarmingly prevents them from making informed decisions and blinds them to the unsuitability of their choice? Oxytocin can make even a haddock seem a good choice of partner.

No wonder the divorce rate has shot through the roof - left to their own devices children have a habit of choosing the most unsuitable of partners for themselves, as evidenced by Western divorce rates! It's said that divorce rates among those whose marriages have been arranged are under 4%, while so-called 'love matches' have a rate of 10 times that.

Mind you, it could just be that those in arranged marriages are just too shit scared of their parents to even contemplate divorce...

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Diamond Lillibet

An Old Boy from my school sent this out yesterday on our eGroup; it's a poem by one Barry Youde, a retired Mersey pilot who has a penchant for writing poetry.


I did go down to the sea again. I saw it all on TV:
The Pageant Grand of our Maritime Land; of The Queen and her Jubilee.
There were large boats and small boats and others of middling sizes.
The scale of it all left the viewer in thrall: and gasping at several surprises.

I did go down to the sea again, this morning, outside my front door:
And yesterday's sight gave the utmost delight: We'd seen nothing like it before.
HM The Queen, in her matters marine, survived and seemed happy about it,
Whilst the D of E, a man of the sea, was dressed for the part, do not doubt it.

 I did go down to the sea again. I did it the previous day.
Our village street-party was cheerful and hearty, I'm wholly delighted to say.
`Twas a barbecue, the best we could do, in our churchyard o'erlooking the sea.
In best maritime rig we cremated a pig, on the Anglican side of the Dee.

I did go down to the sea again. The Pageant was very well done.
On a miserable day the Thames was at play, allowing the Nation some fun.
And the dank cold heard the bells tolled: the star was the new "Gloriana",
To honour The Queen at that mem'rable scene, reminiscent of Victoriana.

I did go down to the sea again and the Devil inside of me queried
At the jollity in this tale of the sea; and those roisterers all being ferried?
Though our Diamond Crown has let nobody down, the World has now turned up the heat.
For a Spithead Review, what could we still do? Where yesterday, please, was the Fleet?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Painkiller Abuse

There is widespread concern over the anticipated and widespread abuse of painkillers by those being forced to endure two weeks of watching the Olympics on TV.

It is also thought that Prince Philip's 'bladder infection' was actually a severe case of nonagenarian painkiller abuse brought on by the prospect of listening to a septuagenarian "Peter Pan of Pop".

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Question of Definition

Can anyone tell me the difference between an illegal rave and a street party?

Monday, 4 June 2012

Britannia Rules - OK

Someone made an ill-advised remark yesterday during the Queen's Thames pageant. He was talking about a sailing vessel owned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust that had been converted to be crewed by the disabled. He had just mentioned that some of the crew are partially sighted, which for him was an "eye opener".

I happened to land on Mrs Queen's Twitter feeds yesterday. Apparently she was somewhat horrified to discover that the replacement for HMY Britannia is some ghastly, red tug. She Tweeted: "When one has half a dozen Admirals in one's family, one would think they could get one something better than a bloody coal barge. It's simply horribilis..... Philip!"

Actually, with several Admirals aboard, I was really surprised the barge didn't crash into the pier of one of the bridges.

Wasn't Mrs Queen a trouper? 86 and she stood throughout the entire, mind-numbingly, interminable thing. Phil The Greek too - 91 in a few days. At 86 my mum was totally doo-lally. You can't help but love Philip - he should be declared a national treasure. They should have their own TV show - Meet the Windsors. Actually, they should have their own country, never mind about a TV show.

It's good to have a rallying point in times of trouble and Elizabeth the Great was certainly that yesterday. I wonder if she'll make it to her Platinum Jubilee?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Booze Drive

There's a study out that says if we all reduce our alcohol intake to a quarter of a unit a day, then 4,500 odd lives will be saved every year.

Not sure I want to save the lives of 4,500 alcoholics every year. Imagine them shambling aimlessly around our town centres for the rest of their lives - stone, cold sober. I shudder to think of it.

Saturday, 2 June 2012


Apparently Facebook went off-line for a couple of hours, leaving many totally bereft of the virtual acquaintances they've never met and yet still insist on calling 'friends'. 

I also heard that is to be renamed after Martin Lewis, the bloke who started it in 2003, sold out to for £87m. What a bastard! Wish I'd thought of the idea before him....

Must be awful being the Queen with all those houses and flunkies; I should think it's a bit like permanently living in a chain of high class hotels.

While I'm not particularly a great fan of the concept of monarchy, I have to admit Mrs Queen has done a fantastic job of being the top privileged person within a pyramid of privileged people. Democratically elected leaders may come and go, but wielding no real power she remains, providing a focus for the national psyche - well, for the WASPs anyway.

Monarchy is all well and good while you have a decent one, but should be country inherit a bad one, then that's when the concept collapses and you have to start initiating revolutions, cutting off royal heads and it generally gets rather messy.

Friday, 1 June 2012

BNP Rallies & Child Abuse

I drove cross-country from Southampton to Corsham yesterday and noticed village after village displaying large numbers of union flags. Has there suddenly been a mass conversion to the BNP, or am I missing something?

I hear an un-named aristocratic family is to be charged in connection with child abuse following the discovery by police of some very disturbing home videos.