Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Politics of Glasto 2019

We watched some of the Glasto acts on iPlayer last night - Stormzy and Janet Jackson.

Can't honestly say I'm a great fan of Stormzy's music, but I can appreciate it and the artistry involved. There are no choruses in his songs whatsoever and they're like a rhyming stream of consciousness, which makes remembering the words (not that I can understand much of what he sings) a prodigious feat of memory considering he was on for an hour.

Stormsy's Boris rant was cut from the iPlayer set following howls of protest, presumably from Daily Mail, Spectator and Daily Telegraph readers. David Davies said' "Words do have impact," when criticising the set. Yes, they do, especially when they're lies and uttered by a politician and Boris would do well to remember Newton's 3rd Law of politics - every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Apparently Boris was waxing lyrical about moral Conservatism - I can't imagine a person less qualified to pontificate on morals.

Many have accused Janet Jackson of miming - hard to tell when her mouth was obscured by a Hitler moustache microphone (which may have been her own political statement). The sound from her mic certainly wasn't optimal - but as an exhibition of pure athleticism by a woman of 53 who has struggles with her weight, it was brilliant. 

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Toxic Ideas

There has been a lorry trailer parked on the Chipping Sodbury bypass for nearly a week. Not an unusual event in itself, but the length of time it's been there is unusual. Lorries do occasionally park overnight in the lay-by there, but they move on the next day.

This got me to thinking there's a market for the unscrupulous in buying a trailer for cash with no paperwork, filling it with toxic waste - charging a fortune to those wishing to to dispose of it - and then abandoning in some lay-by for someone else to deal with.

I'm surprised no-one is already doing this, or perhaps they are.

Friday, 28 June 2019

The Democratic Deficit

So Boris Johnson has confirmed he would suspend Parliament to endure the UK would leave the EU, meaning he would undermine and deny the sovereignty of parliament. If he does that then he openly denies democracy.

This is not the silly claim of ‘denying democracy’ levelled at Parliament just because it can’t agree on a plan to deliver what they think the people want, but real denial of democracy by closing down Parliament itself.

The hypocrisy of someone who campaigned for Brexit with claims that it was needed to restore the sovereignty of Parliament being prepared to destroy democracy by doing the exact opposite is breathtaking.

If we have an unelected tyrant in charge (according to Boris' own logic exhibited in comments about Gordon Brown), then mass strikes and protests must surely follow until democracy is restored?

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Forces of History

I am starting to believe that Boris can do little damage to the country - he's too much in the grip of powerful historical forces that will overwhelm anything he, or indeed anyone, may want to do.
  1. The EU will not renegotiate,
  2. Parliament will not allow a No Deal,
  3. The threat to the Union is real and present and driven by the same ideology as Brexit,
  4. The red lines of the EU are more important than the red lines of the UK as they are fundamental to the continued existence of the EU,
  5. The 'will of the people' has shifted sufficiently to be a warning, and
  6. Truths are starting to be told and lies exposed by the leadership campaign..

I still believe we will remain in the EU, whether by revocation or a 2nd referendum is moot. Boris is simply channelling his inner clown tribute act, as I read someone describe his bumbling demeanour and his inability to grasp detail.

A leader who confines himself to the experiences of his people in a period of upheaval purchases temporary popularity at the price of condemnation by posterity. A skilful political leader will always attempt to keep as many options open as possible. He will want to present his ultimate course as as his own optimum choice, rather than one having been imposed by external events.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Wheel-Free Car Sandwich

Saw an advert om TV last night for Quorn in which someone was making a wrap. At the end the screen was plastered with the words; "Chicken-free wrap." Isn't that the same as making a jam sandwich and calling that a chicken-free sandwich?

Yesterday I was called out to assist a colleague with a flat tyre. Got to his house and discovered it was one of those cars that, in the interests of weight saving and fuel economy, has no spare wheel, no jack and no wheel brace, but it was provided with a canister of tyre-weld. 

I initially tried to inflate the flat tyre with the air pump, but it made no impact whatsoever, indicating a very severe puncture. "OK," thinks I; "I'll use my own car's jack and wheel-brace to remove the wheel and take it to the local Kwik-Fit." But my VW wheel-brace didn't fit the wheel nuts on my colleague's Ford. So, I decided to use the tyre-weld - a product I'd never used before. 

I connected the canister and started pumping the latex into the tyre, but it immediately started to leak out of the inside edge of the tyre - the bead between the tyre and the rim was broken, meaning the wheel had been kerbed and the only solution was removal of the wheel and a new tyre. 

Finally managed to source a universal wheel-brace from the local Kwit-Fit and accomplished the job, but only after several trips up and down between Chipping Sodbury and Wickwar.

Now, if that happened to you on a motorway you'd have no option but to call out the AA or the RAC. and if it was at an inconvenient time you could be facing a night in an hotel - all to save a minimal amount of fuel. Give me a car with a spare wheel any day.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Should Have Gone to Glasses Direct

Went for an eye test last week as reading is becoming more difficult. Seems my prescription has changed slightly, added to which I need something called a prismatic correction.

Hay said; "Get some new glasses from Glasses Direct - I got two pairs for £23." £160 later (I had a £30 discount voucher) I now have a pair of prismatic varifocal normal specs with anti-glare coating on order, along with a pair of sunglasses to the same prescription.

A far cry from Hay's £23, but much cheaper than my usual spectacles emporium. 10 to 14 days delivery, as they have to be made from scratch, and a 90 day trial period. 

I've been finding it hard to cope with car headlight glare at night, which is one of the key instigators of getting some new specs, but then the other day I saw a report from the RAC about headlight glare increasing over time. Seems it's not just me.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Money for Old Rope

We went browsing in Nailsworth yesterday and visited a shop called Domestic Science. They have all manner of weird and wonderful things, mostly priced for the Cotswold Set.

I spotted this:

Is this, perhaps, where the expression money for old rope came from?

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Mike Oldfield's Wall of Death

Went to the Bristol Classic Car Show yesterday with a mate - it isn't in Bristol but at Shepton Mallett, near the Glaso site. Obviously it must at one time have been in Bristol. I won't bore you with images of classic cars, but I will show you a photo from the car park that amused me...

Also a photo of one of the entertainments at the show, which has given me an idea for next year's Old Sodbury Village Day...

I need volunteers though...

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Consequences of Getting Older

I'm usually first into work in the mornings, getting in just after 7am, between half to one hour before everyone else, meaning I open up the place. Yesterday I approached the front door, having both arms full of equipment and my keys in my right hand. As I approached the door I blipped my car key fob at the door and was rather surprised that the door didn't open. It then suddenly dawned on me what I'd done.

It was my eldest grandson's 7th birthday on Thursday and I bought him a fancy kids' watch from Amazon. Somehow I managed to order two of the damned things by accident and there isn't another grandchild's birthday till the end of the year.

I suppose it will grown on me. I'm certainly not paying £3.99 for the privilege of sending it back to Amazon.

Friday, 21 June 2019


Spotted this in a newspaper article last weekend:

"We are about to have yet another Old Etonian prime minister, chosen for us by an ageing, Jag-driving, 19th-hole-bothering Conservative gerontocracy with an imperial twitch and a growing passion for a no-deal Brexit. 

"The Old Etonian in question is the most cartoonish example of the caste: an entitled, amoral chancer who has repeatedly and flagrantly proved himself unfit for office. His sole qualifications appear to be impermeable self-confidence, a schoolboyish sense of destiny, and a character act that even Richard Curtis would have rejected as a half-worked cartoonist’s doodle."

A succinct description of Boris Johnson, who does not portray a single, traditional, Conservative attribute or value. If the Tory membership elect him, then a majority of them will have proven themselves an amoral bunch who are prepared to cast principle to the wind in pursuit (mistakenly, in my opinion, as he will not want to be remembered for being the PM who oversaw the dissolution of the Union) of their treasured Brexit - a Brexit that none can articulate the benefit of and are increasing admitting will be disastrous to the economy and jobs by virtue of the narrative having changed to 'the pain will be worth it'. Again, exactly how it will be worth it is left unanswered.

Brexiteers are fixated on principles in their arguments about Brexit - mainly the principle of sovereignty (although it only became that when all the other arguments were debunked), which they don't appear to understand when many bandy about words like 'traitors' in respect of the sovereignty of Parliament and the judiciary - yet principle will be the last thing on their minds if Boris is elected PM. There's the fishy stench of hypocrisy about their principles, especially when the only truth-teller and pragmatist among the candidates was eliminated at the 2nd vote.

Boris, thank heavens, doesn't have the drive, determination or work ethic to become a fascist leader (and we are increasingly slipping down the road toward a form of populist, anti-intellectual, right-wing fascism), but should he forge a pact with Farage in order to save the Tory party from well-deserved decimation, then he had better beware, as he will be cast aside in a coup by someone more cold, cunning and calculating.

In the words of George Santayana; "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Human Rights & Vaccines

Article 2 of \Schedule 1 of the Human Rights Act states:

Article 2: Right to life

1. Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which the penalty is provided by law.

2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:

a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence in order to effect a lawful arrest or
b) to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained, and
c) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.

Now it can be argued that not vaccinating your kids can put the lives of others at risk, which is an argument for compulsory vaccination. However, some people react badly to vaccines and there have been cases of death or severe disability resulting from vaccination. Six million British people, mostly children, received the Swine Flu vaccine but tragically, 60 people in the UK suffered side effects, committing them to an incurable and lifelong condition. In Belgium you can jail for not vaccinating your children against polio.

It has been argued that compulsory vaccination contravenes the Human Rights Act and it's not hard to see why.

Again, especially in these days of the anti-vaxxer movement, the subject of human rights is a minefield with competing rights.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Human Rights

Continuing yesterday's thread of thought regarding Azimov's Laws of Robotics as pertaining to Human Rights; if the right to life is the first in an hierarchy of basic human rights, then that presupposes that the right to defend your life trumps someone else's right to life in the instance of your life being put in danger by someone else, such as in an attack.

Should any hierarchy not then start as follows:

  1. A right to defend your life.
  2. A right to life, except where it would conflict with the First Human Right.

In other words, someone gives up their right to life if their action results in your life being threatened by them. A justification for defensive war.

The right to defend your life would impact any rights pertaining to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. A veritable Zeroth Human Right?

Take, for example, any right to worship as you see fit. In some instances that may, depending on the religion one chooses, conflict with someone else's right to life. Therefore any right to worship should be subject to an exclusion in the instance of it affecting someone else's right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It is worth noting that many Islamic countries have their own version of human rights, but only insofar as they conform to sharia, which is a massive get-out clause.

The whole area is fraught with conundrums and nothing is as simple as it first looks. More tomorrow on lawful violence, which is no more than the violence of the majority...

Analyse and discuss....

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Free Speech

Some favour unrestricted free speech, others favour free speech within the confines of the law and others believe in free speech providing it adheres to cultural norms, which change with time.

I've been thinking about free speech for some time and am coming to the conclusion that what is permitted in free speech has to bound up with basic human rights.

Azimov's Laws of Robotics are worth quoting, including the Zeroth Law, which was a later addition.

0) A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. 

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 

2) A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 

3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The interesting thing about these laws is that they are set out in an hierarchy and provide guidance in the form of what happens in the case of conflict with other laws. This made me consider whether human rights should have the same hierarchy.

If one reads the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there are 30 articles with not a hint of an hierarchy and hence there is scope for conflict between rights, which is where problems lie in regards to free speech.

I believe the starting point for any revised list of human rights should start with the right to life and any subsequent right should only be accepted on condition that it does not conflict with the right to life, etc., etc,.

I just performed a quick Google search on Hierarchy of Human Rights and found this interesting piece, which is worth a read.

Analyse and discuss...

Monday, 17 June 2019

Acton Court

Living not 10 minutes away, yesterday we decided to visit Acton Court, an old manor house dating from the 14th century and once belonging to the Poyntz family.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers

Stocked up on my favourite cheeses yesterday at The Little Cheese Shop in Chipping Sodbury. They sell cheese on behalf of other manufacturers as well as making their own.

I was somewhat amused to discover they do a brie cheese called Sod Brie.

Someone sent me this TV schedule clip...

Friday, 14 June 2019

Crossing Divides

There's a new initiative to get strangers talking to each other to increase social cohesion - it's called Crossing Divides. Think I'll engage with it and speak to some random strangers today about Brexit. They'll love that.

Given we've listened to amateurs for the last three years and they have achieved nothing, isn't it about time we gave experts anther punt and started to believe expertise has its place? Listening to some of these amateurs is like giving Anti-Vaxxers a platform and allowing them to develop policy for the NHS.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Summer of Land

Remember 1967 - The Summer of Love? 2019 is turning out to be The Summer of, well, No Summer.

Many people like to get out into the countryside at weekends, but what exactly is the countryside? There are very few places you can go where you're not confronted by well manicured fields containing either domesticated animals or crops. What we consider to be countryside is actually anything but.

The only real countryside, untouched by man, exists in the wilds of Scotland, parts of North Wales and on uncultivated moors in England, which are rather bleak at the best of times. Even then a lot of it is cropped by hill farmers' sheep.

Did you know that housing comprises only 5% of the available land in the UK?

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

VW Golf R

I had occasion to drive a brilliant car yesterday; a 2017 VW Golf R - a real wolf in sheep's clothing.

I thought I was driving a common or garden Golf, but the minute - or rather split second - I put my foot on the accelerator it leapt forward and pinned me into my seat. It is only a 2L engine too.

0-60 in between 4.6 and 4.8 seconds (depending on gearbox - automatic being the quicker of the two) and 310 BHP, which puts it among the Porches and is only marginally less than my  5L Mercedes R129 500SL. However, it is nonetheless quicker off the mark by just over a second. Mind you, there is almost a quarter of a century between the two cars.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Outlook for PM

Simply haven't had time to write any daily entries over the last couple of days, what with the Old Sodbury Village Day and trying to come to grips with Windows 10 and Outlook on Office 2019.

I detest Windows 10 - it looks like it was developed for toddlers - and with every iteration of Outlook they make it increasingly less intuitive when setting up your email, especially if you have a different outbound mail server from your inbound. To compound it, I have some 10Gb of past emails which I needed to port across to the new device. Make a mistake in the outbound server details and you can't correct the error - you have to start from scratch. Painful!

I have resisted the move for years, preferring to stick with the tried and trusted Windows 7 Professional, which \I find infinitely more intuitive.

While on the subject of IT, I'm, convinced the before the National Trust takes on a property, they first have to satisfy themselves that there's no 4G in the area. Have you noticed how few NT properties have GSM coverage?

So the drug-crazed love-in that is the Tory Party leadership contest (and an advert for Scottish independence) is under way, resulting in a bit of reality coming into the rhetoric from a minority of the contestants. No-one wants to go down as the PM who presided over the turning of the UK into a basket case - except Boris, of course, who would sell his mother, grandmother and firstborn to become PM and seems willing do anything for power - even to the extent of offering tax breaks for the well-off. While that may garner votes among the Tory membership, it won;t do him a jot of good in a General Election.

Ruth Davidson coming out in support of Boris would normally be the kiss of death among sane people, but we are experiencing a period of mass insanity when a large section of the population pursue a hard Brexit with the dogmatic fervour of religious fanatics, while not being able to provide a single logical argument as to why and throwing all evidence demonstrating how bad it will be to the winds. It's a period of national self-harm to the extent that, if the UK were a person, that person would be sectioned.

There is a glimmer of sanity among the hopefuls in the shape of Rory Stewart - the only sane contender in the asylum that is the Conservative Party and the only hope of bringing them together through the ingenious tactic of compromise, which history has shown us innumerable times to be an invaluable tool to resolve disputes and aid negotiations. He's also right about all the spending the other contenders are promising - where will the money come from after Brexit? Another magic money tree, or are they going to find some plausible reason to reverse Brexit and blame it elsewhere on some convenient scapegoat?

Saturday, 8 June 2019


About 3 years ago I used some spare oak cladding to construct a nesting box for the swifts which used to nest in the house while it was being built. 

I read somewhere that it can take swifts a couple of years to get used to the presence of a nesting box before they will use it. This year we spotted a couple of swifts using it on a regular basis, suggesting there's a nest inside.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Access to the Ferry

While in Kingswear this week I spotted a house with this novel access from the road above it to the house (almost all the houses are built into cliffs).

Must have been hideously expensive. One can only assume the house owners are disabled, or incredibly lazy.

Here's someone else's attempt....

That's more my style...

On the car ferry across the River Dart yesterday, which is nothing more sophisticated than a pontoon with a tug tied to it, we wondered if the tug failed we'd be swept out to sea on an automotive equivalent of the Kon-Tiki Expedition - Kar-Tiki. A couple of cars had dogs, so we'd be OK for food for a while before we started on the White Van Man...

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Deco Daleks

On Tuesday we visited Coleton Fishacre, the country house of the D'Oyly Carte family.

It's a beautiful, 1920s house in the Art Deco style with extensive gardens, designed by a student of Lutyens. In one of the rooms we saw an HMV room heater, which was designed by Christian Barman and is an Art Deco icon.

It is said that this room heater was the inspiration behind the heads of the Daleks. I found one on eBay which has been converted into a lamp - unsympathetically, I'd say.

Another had sold on eBay a couple of years ago for £60. Wish I'd known at the time. I'll be keeping an eye out for one...

I bought a rail chair for Hay from the South Devon Steam Railway in Staverton. It was made in 1925 for the GWR and will double as a boot scraper / boot remover.

Nice bit of ironmongery repurposing.