Monday, 31 May 2021

Oh Dear, Toby

Toby Young, a rabid right political commentator and agitator, has been crowing over the resignation of the Chairman of the National Trust, Tim Parker, who resigned because he stayed on longer than his allotted term because of the Covid Pandemic.

Young maintains Parker resigned because his petition to remove Parker for the crime of Wokeness had been a victory, despite attracting no more than 50 signatures among the 6m NT members. If that's a victory, it's one of Dunkerquesque proportions.

Young Tweeted; “Let’s hope this sends a message to the heads of other national institutions who pander to anti-British, leftwing activists and ignore their patriotic, small c conservative members: Get Woke, Go Broke.” What an arrogant little man! So he and his ignorant ilk are the only true patriots? This can only lead to one place - a very dark one of Trumpian proportions. He may be howling at the moon from atop a gatepost, but there are those with bulldog avatars and swastika tattoos who lap it up.

The War on Woke is taking a few outliers and generalising them as typical - cherry picking is the technical term, or generalising from the specific. Woke is being aware to social injustice - poverty, inequality, racism, sexism, etc.

If I were to ask you whether these issues concerned you, I guarantee that under pressure you'd say they do - to do otherwise would remove your right to call yourself human or caring. However, that makes you just as Woke as me, no matter how you try to divert attention from your own ideology's failures by railing against imaginary enemies, protecting statues of people you've never heard of, worshipping flags, banging on about patriotism while behaving like a proto-fascist or whitewashing our history to eliminate the nastier, but historically accurate bits. 

The political right has been an abject failure at protecting us from real enemies and therefore invents enemies to protect us from - the usual tactic of the demagogue when he's floundering in a sea of incompetence of his own creation. Scapegoats must be found, whether they're Jews, Muslims, people of a difference colour, the poor, immigrants, countries better off than yours, the left, the National Trust - anyone will do. When you can't admit you're lying to yourself, you've lost the argument - with yourself. You can't explain stupid as anything other than stupid.

It's a pity that those who venerate the inanimate don't have as much concern for the animate.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Elephantine Batteries

 I was perusing the instructions for the construction of the e-bike and was a tad surprised at one of the warnings.

If you look at item 13 you sill see the entirely valid suggestion that batteries should be stored out of reach of children in case they accidentally swallow them.

Are they talking, perhaps, of baby elephants?

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Blank Detail

Does anyone know why sellers on e-Bay and Facebook Market blank out the registration numbers on cars they have for sale, other than paranoia?

In order to do a check on whether the car has an outstanding HP agreement on it (which is very common) or it has some hideous MoT advisories, my first question before even taking the trouble to go and look at it is to ask for the registration number anyway, which is always freely given. Anyone could do that.

Yes, people use false registrations in crimes, but it's relatively easy to prove your car wasn't involved and that you have the V5 in your name. If a false registration is needed, there are plenty of real registrations to use on the road. 

Writing off for a new V5 in order to claim the car, saying it's lost? The original owner is contacted before a new one is issued. Also, a V5 is not a document of ownership - for that you need a receipt. If someone wants to pay for my speeding or parking tickets, let them knock themselves out.

Friday, 28 May 2021

The E-Bike Project

Got myself a new project - to build an e-bike.

I bought a 2nd hand Giant Talon mountain bike last weekend to use as a base. It's a sturdy bike of good quality and only cost me £190. Nice, fat tyres, front dampers that make it feel as if you're riding on air, Shimano gears and disc brakes all round with quick-release wheels. No.1 Son, who is into bikes and has a carbon fibre racer, checked it out for me before I bought it and declared it 'nice', which for him is a compliment.

Having done a bit of research, I gleaned the following:

  • The options are front wheel, pedal crank or rear wheel drive - crank being the most difficult and requiring some engineering expertise. I've gone for rear wheel drive.
  • You have to match the rear hub gearing to the wheel coming off the bike - usually 7 or 9 gear cogs; 7 in my case. Wheel size should be the same as the one being removed too - 29" in my case, which makes it a bit more difficult, as most kits are for 26" wheels, but I found the correct size.
  • You also need to ensure what's called the dropout is the same, which is the distance between the rear forks (if that's what they're called - my bike nomenclature being uncertain at present) that the new wheel fits into. It's usually a standard 135mm, but check.
  • Wheel hub power is for speed - there is a variety of wattages, going from 350 right up to 2,000 Watts. But, the higher the wattage of the hub, the faster the power drain of the battery and the more torque you generate, which can translate into either speed or hill climb ability, providing you have a beefy battery, which is added weight. I've gone for 1,500 Watts.
  • Batteries come in a combination of voltages and amp hours. Voltage must be the same for the hub, controller and battery. The greater the amp hours, the longer the battery life, which also converts to distance. I've ordered a 48V 20A with a continuous delivery (BMS) of 30A.
  • Your frame must be capable of containing the battery module - some of these weirdly sprung bikes just don't have the room between the frame struts, except for the smallest of batteries.
One thing you can't get, or at least not quite yet, is regenerative braking when going downhill. That's because the advantage is apparently outweighed by wind resistance. There are kits which purport to support regen, but they're simply added cost for almost no gain, although I'm sure the technology will improve.

Essentially it's as an add-on to the motorhome, which is a pain to move once we've set up camp, especially if wild camping, as you can lose your space if you leave it to go shopping or sightseeing. I was considering getting a trailer for the Triumph Daytona, but that's a very expensive option, not to mention the problems of reversing in narrow lanes with an articulated vehicle (a fixed motorcycle mount is a very, very expensive option, plus you need to ensure your rear axle can handle and extra 300kg load). An e-bike would be capable of being put on the existing bike rack (max capacity 60kg), but would be the equivalent of having a moped available for shopping trips. 

I started off looking for a 2nd hand, ready built one, but they either look like Noddy bikes (the old folding Raleigh type), which aren't very cool, or are extremely expensive, or are underpowered. I spotted this rather nice one on Facebook Market, but the bloke wanted £1,600, which made me think I could do one much cheaper with a 2nd hand bike.

The colours are good and I particularly like the headlamp, which he constructed from a motorcycle headlight combined with a powerful LED torch. He used a new bike as the base and it's a 1,000 Watt jobbie with a reasonably big battery, hence the price. I spent hours chatting to him and he was a mine of information about the parts needed. He apparently spent £1,200 on parts alone, as you can probably tell;

I'm not going anywhere near as fancy as this, but I do like the electric setup, which is good for a 40 mile range. My cost for the kit is £640, split equally between the hub / controller and battery and is packs more punch than the one above. The delivery came yesterday, only 3 days after ordering it, and here's the bike and kit.

The triangular battery fits the space in the frame perfectly and the controller comes in a snazzy, waterproof pouch, which I can hang under the 45 degree strut, although I may go for a small carrier above the rear wheel. However, I thought I'd charge the battery last night as a preliminary, but the charger became very hot (67 degrees C) and there were no tell-tale lights on the battery indicating charge level, although it did charge. A missive has been sent to the seller, asking him to resolve the situation ASAP.

That said, there are cheaper alternatives...

The photo above is not my 'other' bike, but an example.

This little setup costs only about £80 with a kit from e-Bay - it's an 80cc, two stroke add-on for road bikes with a 2 litre fuel tank and, yes, I ordered one for my other bike and it's waiting to be fitted.

Not as environmentally friendly, but it does leave me open to choices and it's a technology I'm more familiar with. A good project to work on with No.2 Son, who has no idea of how an internal combustion engine works - not that it's something he will need to know for much longer. Decidedly uncool, but practical.

The petrol engine arrived Wednesday against a schedule of today - excellent service. Here's a photo of the engine balanced in position. I'll probably start work on it on Sunday. The fuel tank is black, but I'll spray that the same colour as the bike.

Making a start on the e-bike headlight, but will probably need to order another for the moped, although the fork mount isn't perfect, so I'll need to adapt the mount somehow for the handlebars; the mounts need a 90 degree twist adding to them.

Saw this on Facebook Market. Mmmmm.....

That'd be handy when camped near cliffs.... £5 grand though, and I doubt I could fix it to a bike... I'm sure Hay would be pleased if I bought it.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Cummings & Goings

Well, Dominick Cummings has blown the gaff on our utterly incompetent and shambolic government - not that it came as any surprise to those whose consciousness extends beyond the ends of their noses. 

Can we believe him, given his Baynard's Castle escapade? I think so, as very little of what he said was new - it merely added some heretofore unknown detail. If you've read Failures of State, then you'll understand this. We also have the evidence of our own eyes via one of the worst death tolls in the world (even India is still well below us in deaths per million), Boris' 5 missed COBRA meetings, late lockdowns, borders not being closed, pensioners who allegedly had a protective ring around them being released back into care homes without testing and causing 40,000 deaths, Hancock using posted Covid tests as completed tests so he could say he'd met his target, the failed Test and Trace system - which are all incontrovertible facts that were reported at the time. 

Also, it wasn't about him saving his own bacon and auditioning for his next job; it was a revenge attack for Johnson turning on him and briefing his friends in the press that Cummings was the source of the Dyson leaks. It's a self-inflicted injury on the part of Johnson - you don't piss off the person who was your key SPAD, was at the heart of every decision and knows the location of every skeleton; however, Johnson appears to be too egotistical to realise this.

Cummings has rightly apologised for his not pressing the panic button earlier, but who would listen anyway when the guy at the top was worse than him. Cummings arrived at the Select Committee meeting armed with texts, emails and photos proving what was said - he has the receipts. 

Anyone who continues to defend this buffoon Johnson, when his proven complacency is directly responsible for tens of thousands of needless deaths, should hang their heads in shame, loosen the blue scarves that are preventing their blood reaching their brains and face someone who has lost a relative and tell them that Boris did a good job. I know they are lying to themselves, they know they are lying to themselves and they know that I know they are lying to themselves. Saying no-one else could have done better is plain ignorance when the leaders of most countries did indeed do better.

At PMQ's, when questioned by Keir Starmer, Johnson accused Starmer of continually looking in the rear view mirror when 'what the people are really interested in' (words that are a sure cue for a diversionary ramble about what the majority of people are not interested in, especially the relatives of the 127,000  dead) looking forward. To what though; finding imaginary enemies, protecting statues of people they've never heard of, worshipping flags, blaming the EU for a treaty Boris signed and Frost received a peerage for, inventing fake history of National Trust properties and a Culture War on wokeness? He's certainly not talking for me, nor any decent human being who puts a higher value on people than symbols.

For Boris to maintain he did everything possible to save lives is manifestly a lie that the evidence, freely available at the time, proves is a lie.

Boris doesn't want to look in the rear view mirror, as the view is littered with thousands of bodies that he is directly responsible for through his prevarication and ineptitude. What an insensitive thing to say to those who do look back and see their dead relatives.

If any lessons are to be learned, then now is the time to launch an official inquiry, not when the results won't come to fruition till those responsible have left office and found nice, well paid sinecures in commerce, which seems to be the aim of entering politics for many. Events are still fresh in people's minds, we're at the tail end of the pandemic and an interim report would facilitate the creation of a coherent plan to combat the next pandemic (a plan which already existed, thanks to Gordon Brown and Operation Winter Willow, and was successfully used as a template by Singapore, but ignored by the British government), which could feasibly strike as soon as next year (especially if it's proven China is dabbling with bio-weapons). But no, Boris will not be scrutinised and will continue to lie through his teeth to the British public with many idiotic Britons continuing to cheer him on and loving him for it.

30 years ago, this would have resulted in resignations. Not today though - he will brazen it out, supported by a fawning press. When Boris is lambasted as being unfit for office by two, highly respected Conservative journalists - Max Hastings and Peter Oborne - you know the Conservative Party is in trouble.

One statement from Cummings stands out - what state has this country's political system come to when the options before the electorate were Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn? The country is fatally broken and the barbarians are not only at the gate, but in the heart of Rome, wreaking havoc and plundering the treasury. 

The irony is that Cummings helped create an environment where truth no longer matters.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021


I'm getting a bit confused by all these people who maintain the lockdowns have resulted in an explosion of cancer cases because people were unable to get appointments, and hence lockdowns themselves were to blame, proving the were a bad idea.

I do wish they'd explain their logic, as I can't see any - unless I'm missing something. I agree that if we'd had earlier lockdowns the NHS would not have been so overwhelmed, leaving capacity for cancer referral appointments, but it's the severity and length of the lockdowns, which in turn was due to them being late, that caused the problem in the first place.

Had there been no lockdowns at all, despite rising cases and deaths, then the situation would have been infinitely worse, not better, as the NHS would have been overwhelmed for longer and to a higher degree. The lockdowns were a consequence of Covid and the cancer timebomb is a consequence of the quite necessary lockdowns caused by Covid.

On top of that, had there been no lockdowns at all, people would still have not visited their GPs for fear of catching Covid at the surgery or in hospital. If anything, the lockdowns, albeit late, improved referrals compared to the alternative.

The only instance in which lockdowns themselves would be the cause is when lockdowns are unnecessary due to very low or zero case numbers that are stable and an R number of less than 1. That happens at the end of a pandemic, not the start of a spread where the growth of cases is exponential and you can't afford to take risks about the unknown.

I'm also somewhat pissed off with all these people flocking to amber travel areas. 

The government's first responsibility, in exchange for my vote, is to protect me and my property - which is why we have laws against murder and theft - yet they say we shouldn't travel to amber areas while simultaneously making it possible, with no consequences if you do. The excuse is that it's simply advice and people should use their common sense. 

Well, in that case the laws against robbing banks and homes or murder should perhaps be changed to mere advice with no consequences - people can just use their common sense. The courts and police would be relived of an enormous burden to the taxpayer and prisons could be emptied.

How about speed limits? They could also be changed to advice, with drivers urged to use their common sense. Similarly, why bother with customs and immigration controls - just advise people not to smuggle or enter the country illegally and use their common sense. 

Whole swathes of government could be scrapped and replaced with much cheaper advisory bodies telling us to simply use our common sense. If people insist on continuing to murder, steal, speed, smuggle or enter the country illegally - well, they're just not using their common sense.

The purpose of rules and consequences is to protect you from idiots and psychopaths - and anti-lockdowners who don't believe Covid is dangerous to many and is spread by proximity.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Old Valeter's Trick

The cab carpets in the motorhome had faded to a dirty, brown/pink in the 20 years since they were installed, and we were considering a complete carpet swap. However, I thought of using the valeter's trick of spraying them with the right colour matt paint. Hay was dubious, but I assured her it would work perfectly.

In cars, it's sometimes extremely difficult to clean the carpets thoroughly. The best way is to use a jet wash in the footwells and then use a powerful (3,000W) wet and dry vacuum cleaner to vacuum away the dirty water. However, this doesn't always produce the desired result, and sometimes you simply don't want to wet the inside of the car anyway, or it's ingrained, short pet hair or short pieces of dried grass that refuse to budge. That's where a can of matt black spray paint comes in handy - but only on black carpets, or so I thought.

I used an Android App that grabs the colour of anything you point to camera at and it returns the exact RAL colour. I pointed it at the carpet in the back of the van, which hasn't faded, and it returned RAL 3003 - Ruby Red. A quick search on Google produced a company that makes up spray paints to whatever RAL number you like. £21 was duly spent on two 400ml cans and I completed the transformation of the front carpet yesterday, not even using a full can.

You have to be careful to use gentle wafts of spray paint, rather than blobbing it on, allowing each waft to dry, which happens quickly, before the next application. The paint aerosols penetrate between the carpet fibres and colour it beautifully and is permanent.

As you can see from the photo above, it worked brilliantly.

Monday, 24 May 2021

Post Brexit Britain

There's a school of thought that maintains that if you're not very good at something, stop doing it and focus more on what you do well. This was prevalent in the latter part of the 20th century when companies outsourced everything that wasn't core to the business - such as HR, IT, accounting, customer service, etc.

This is the ideology that the government is following and was kicked off by the free trade lobby, under the tutelage of Dominic Cummings, who made no secret of the fact that following this strategy would have the result of demolishing swathes of industry before it could be rebuilt better and stronger. The Brexiteers' doyen economist, Patrick Minford, admitted this himself when he forecasted that agriculture and manufacturing - sectors where we aren't very efficient when it comes to outside competition - would be decimated.

The argument is very compelling, until one realises that it builds into the system an inherent instability and complexity that's extremely sensitive to dynamics outside our immediate control. This is why companies have gone back to the control model and essentially ditched outsourcing. Government is always the last to adopt a system and, by the time they have adopted it, it has been ditched by the private sector for one reason or another.

Australia is perfectly suited to lamb and beef production on an industrial scale - the vast tracts of land, latitude and economies of scale ensure it has the most productive and cost-effective system in the world for such activity. However, switching our meat production abroad, due to native inefficiency, results in us becoming even less self-sufficient than we currently are. This is somewhat ironic when one of the Brexit mantras was that we need to reduce our reliance of foreign imports. All it takes is for a prolonged drought in Australia due to climate change (which is far more susceptible to this than a wet island off the coast of Europe) and we can wave goodbye to our steak dinners.

Build fragility, complexity and interdependence into a system and reduce resilience (which I've written on before) and there's more to go wrong. You're building an inverted pyramid that's hopeless at addressing the unexpected; the Black Swan, as Naseem Nicholas Taleb described it.

Then, on the other side of the argument is the fact we have to find the industries we're actually good at. These are so self-evident to Boris Johnson that he's had to hire special advisors to point them out to him. If they're thin on the ground, then one first has to conduct a strategic review of market opportunities and build those industries in which could have an advantage, but that takes time, money, training and education, and is still a huge risk, as any new market entrant knows, as someone else may have also spotted that gap in the market and could manage to penetrate it fater or more effciently yhan you. Even then, there's no guarantee that you'll stay dominant unless it's by some unique feature that no other country possesses.

Ideology, for this government, is trouncing pragmatism. It simultaneously ignores the human cost involved in building a more efficient, yet less stable and resilient country. A highly tuned F1 engine is very good at what it does, but it's more susceptible to going wrong when conditions aren't perfect. They used to be designed for only one race but, to make things more competitive, teams are now only allowed a handful of engines per season, requiring resilience to be built into them, at the cost of efficiency. Also, the old engine won't complain when it's replaced and chucked on the scrap heap - you're not relying on it for its vote. Turkeys, as they say, don't vote for Christmas - but Brexit has proven that a fallacy.

Sunday, 23 May 2021


It's strange that the tabloids react with fury when a BBC journalist uses tabloid tactics to generate a story. Perhaps they're simply annoyed they didn't think of it first.

Using lies and deception to obtain a story is the stock in trade of the British tabloids, and few people bat an eyelid - it's come to be expected. For a BBC journalist to do this, however, is egregious in the extreme, albeit having happened 25 years ago. To cover it up for decades compounds the felony.

However, rather than solving the problem by handing control of the BBC to a government that uses lies as a matter of policy, would it not be better to simply put processes and procedures in place to ensure it never happens again? There again, I await with trepidation the announcement of The Ministry of Truth, in true Orwellian style.

Selling off the BBC is not a solution either, as it would stand a very high chance of being grabbed by the very organisations who have little respect for the truth, which again would play directly into the hands of the Conservative Party and not resolve the problem at hand.

William and Harry are naturally incensed at what happened, but William calling for the interview to be buried forever is simply the reaction of a young man wanting to protect his mother and hence entirely understandable and human, if misplaced, in my judgement.

Nothing in the interview was, to my knowledge, lies - it was already freely available through the book written about her, with her complete co-operation. She was, by all accounts, determined to do an interview in reaction to Charles' prior interview, just to get her side of the story out into the public domain - she'd already approached Max Hastings (who refused to have anything to do with her material) before she got involved with Panorama. It was a matter of revenge. The manner in which the interview was gained did not change the essence of what was said, but arguably hurried it along a bit and - yes - the method used to secure it did, in all probability, contribute to a feeling of paranoia.

To bury the interview would merely silence Diana, and too many women, especially in Royal circles, have been silenced in the past by a patriarchal institution run by male flunkies eager to protect the Monarch by whatever means possible, sometimes to the annoyance of the Royals themselves. Has anyone ever heard Mrs Simpson's story, except through the prism of the Monarchical Firm's narrative?

What's a pity about Bashir and the BBC is that they've handed the government a stick to beat them with and divert attention from the total mess they've created and their aim to control the narrative in a manner that sustains them in power. The press in Britain may well be free, but it's predominantly hideously biased at the gutter end of the spectrum and stoops to nothing to support the Tory Party and its aim to demolish the country of my fathers - well, half of them at least.

The story may have been obtained by lies, but the story itself was not a tissue of lies. Give me a list of BBC lies and I'll respond with a list of Johnson government lies that's larger by several orders of magnitude.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Israel - Gaza Truth

I was listening to a Middle East analyst on the radio on Thursday and he made an observation that's irrefutable - that Netayahu and Hamas are utterly and totally dependent on each other to validate their power.

Netanyahu's hawkish position receives a boost every time he responds to Hamas rocket attacks - he needs them and will even provoke them.

Similarly, the Hamas leadership receives a boost every time an Israeli rocket lands on an ostensibly civilian target, which encourages them to use civilian buildings from which to launch their rocket attacks.

To retain their respective positions of power they need each other. Conflict keeps them in power.

Friday, 21 May 2021

You Couldn't Make it Up

Currently, there’s a travel ban in place for overseas travel from Australia. However, as of 19 April 2021, quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is permitted. 

The travel ban means Australians cannot leave Australia for non-essential reasons (i.e. a holiday). If an Australian does have an essential reason, they must obtain permission from the Department of Home Affairs. 

On 9 May, Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, said that international travel could return in 2022. He said, “We’re hoping, we’re counting, we’re banking on, of course, international travel being back to some sort of pre-COVID normality next year.”

Meanwhile, 4 flights a day are arriving at Heathrow from India, we can travel virtually anywhere we want - there is only guidance from the government, not rules - and passengers from Green, Orange and Red areas are mixing freely in a single Arrival Hall at Heathrow.

On Thursday the UK recorded 2,874 new cases – the highest daily figure for new cases in over a month

You couldn't make it up! A government which lacks any common sense whatsoever is advising us to use common sense.

Thursday, 20 May 2021


The government did not plan enough for a threat on the scale of coronavirus, its spending watchdog, The National Audit Office, has found. 

In response, the government said its approach throughout the pandemic had been "guided by data and the advice of scientific and medical experts". 

Clearly not, when it repeatedly ignored scientific advice to lock down. 

"As new evidence emerged, we acted quickly and decisively to protect lives and livelihoods," said a spokesperson. 

Clearly not, with three, successively late lockdowns and the idiocy of Eat Out to Help Out, the Christmas relaxations and opening schools too early, only to shut them a day later. The government gambled with lives to protect the economy first, resulting in both 127k deaths - half of which were totally avoidable, according to the science - AND a ravaged economy through having to lock down longer, necessitating unprecedented spending.

"We have committed to a full public independent inquiry to look at what lessons we can learn from our response to this unprecedented global challenge."

They will delay any inquiry such that it does not affect the next election and will ignore the result, as they do with anything critical of them. It will not start work before 2022 and would not report until at least 2024, with an election pencilled in for 2013.

This pathetic excuse for a government can only deny or ignore observed reality, issue mistruths in response to valid criticism, and bluster. Johnson never answers questions at PMQs with a direct response, veering off into irrelevancies. It reminds me of the Two Ronnies Mastermind sketch where Ronnie Corbet specialises in answering the question before last, but Johnson specialises in not answering any.

I can't wait for Dominic Cummings' appearance before MPs next Wednesday and the embarrassment it will cause to this bunch of shysters.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Housing Crisis

 Overheard in the bedroom:

Hay: "Badger! Stop snoring!"

Chairman: "I'm not snoring - I'm purring."

The housing crisis is being addressed in our area.

They're selling hedgehog houses. However, at £40 a pop, they're rather expensive.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Palestine II

I was having a think yesterday about my essay of Saturday regarding the Palestinian situation and a thunderbolt hit me out of the blue about the consequences of a paragraph.

I wrote: "The Israelis are defending the only patch of land on earth where they can feel safe from the next Holocaust or pogrom - anywhere else in the world - and if history has taught us anything, it's that Jews will continue to be persecuted somewhere, at some time in the future. No wonder they want to defend it."

However, if you accept this (at first glance) entirely reasonable premise that the Jews are entitles to a safe haven because, since time immemorial, they've been the world's scapegoats, it can lead you down some rather dark and paradoxical passages as the consequences play out. These consequences simply hadn't occurred to me until yesterday.

The corollary of the Jews having a refuge is that they must remain in full control of their own destiny within that refuge – but how can this be accomplished within a designated territory? There are only two avenues; firstly, there must be rigorously enforced immigration rules, preferably limiting immigration to Jews alone, and/or secondly, any immigrants cannot be given full citizenship and the voting rights afforded to Jews. 

The Jews, and their vote, can never be allowed to be outnumbered, or potentially outnumbered, else they lose that self-determination. One or other, or both, of these measures are a necessity and an imperative for the end objective of having a safe haven. It would lead to a ethno-religiously pure nation, at least in terms of voting rights, which means that territory becoming an apartheid state. Therein lies the dark paradox.

While the former strategy of strictly limited immigration is practiced by many nations not considered apartheid states, the latter of restricting voting rights isn't - but the result is the same.

Monday, 17 May 2021

What's Needed?

I saw a headline a couple of days ago saying that something like two thirds of Labour voters (I can't remember the exact fraction) want a change at the top.

This headline is rather misleading if it's meant to be an exhortation for what's needed, as these are generally people who voted Labour in the last General Election, and lost. It's a symptom of the civil war that's still raging within the left over Jeremy Corbyn.

What should be polled is those ex Labour voters who defected to the LibDems, Greens and even the Tories, and to ascertain what they want in order to bring them back into the fold, because that's the cohort that counts - if Labour wants to win an election. What they want may not be the same as those who remained loyal and yet aren't sufficient in number.

Sunday, 16 May 2021


Palestine is an intractable situation. If you go back to analyse who did what first in order to justify tit-for-tat, you'd have to go back a very long time indeed and it's entirely futile.

The pragmatic approach is usually the best - we are where we are and things have to move forward without reference to past slights. Israel exists as a country and the Israelis will not allow it to be wiped off the map, as Hamas would like.

Opinions and weasel words my differ as to whether Hamas has dropped its covenant demand on the land currently comprising the territory of Israel, but it's by no means unequivocal. It has been declared a terrorist organisation by many countries and its military wing alone by others (including Britain).

Possession is 9/10th of the law, as we're always told, and the Israelis possess Israel. If you go against the precept of the conqueror has the right of possession, then we in the UK can legitimately contest the ownership of vast tracts of land owned by the aristocracy since William the Conqueror handed out parcels of land as rewards to his mercenary thugs.

The Israelis are defending the only patch of land on earth where they can feel safe from the next Holocaust or pogrom - anywhere else in the world - and if history has taught us anything, it's that Jews will continue to be persecuted somewhere, at some time in the future. No wonder they want to defend it.

The Palestinians have a justified beef in that their land was appropriated by an invading power; however, it can be argued that Britain fired the first shot with the Balfour Declaration. But Britain defeated the Ottomans in WWI and was therefore justified, by historic precedent, in doing whatever it wanted with that parcel of land, regardless of whether it upset others already on that land. To the victor go the spoils of war, as they say. The Ottomans themselves invaded it, after all, and before them the Egyptian Mamluks, the Mongols, the Franks, several dynasties of Muslims, the Byzantines, the Romans, the Macedonians, the Babylonians and the Egyptians.

The territory ceded to the Jews has been whittled down over the last 100 years by over 70%. Originally it was far larger than the sliver of land it now comprises. So, in a way, a 2 state solution did come about, but the Palestinians aren't happy with the status quo and want more. That, given the vast technological superiority of the Israeli armed forces, isn't possible.

Hamas has only crude, homemade rockets which don't have any targeting capability and are therefore indiscriminate. However, they have no choice in this. Israel, on the other hand, can finely pinpoint their strikes. To counter this, Hamas uses human shields and places rocket launchers in schools and hospitals, hoping to win the moral argument, but it's a double-edged sword when you put your own people in danger through rash action.

Hamas is not a democratic organisation and rules through fear, rather than free and fair elections. That denigrates Hamas in the eyes of the West. The moral argument goes against them in this case.

The blockade of Gaza is cited by many as dehumanising, as it is but, time after time, Hamas uses relaxations in the blockade to smuggle in weapons.

There is little support for the Palestinians among Arab states - they won't even allow Palestinian refugees settled status and treat them as 2nd class. Palestine is a thorn in their sides.

Israel has been censured by many for using disproportionate force, but that's how you win wars. The Allies in WWII didn't pull back from using overwhelming force when given the opportunity. It's an argument that I find specious and misplaced. Many portray Israel as the playground bully and say it's right to stand up to the bully. Others contend that Israel is more like a hornet's nest and you don't poke a hornet's nest without consequences. It's even possible to see the situation reversed, with Gaza being the annoying hornet's nest on the edge of Israel's garden.

Taking sides produces nothing productive. Any settlement has to be negotiated and brokered by a 3rd party - but even then it will be a temporary settlement and not permanent. So long as Hamas insists on the elimination of Israel, no permanent settlement is possible. So long as Israeli settlers insist on moving into Palestinian areas, no permanent settlement is possible.

If the above two canards can be addressed, then a permanent solution is possible, but it's like wanting to eliminate world hunger. So long as diametrically opposed views are entrenched, it won't happen. As I said at the start, an intractable problem that you only exacerbate by taking sides.

The radical left in the UK finds it trendy to support the Palestinians, but there again, the radical left has a habit of supporting idealistic causes that have no chance of ever happening and ignore reality. The right gravitates to order, and therefore, in general, supports Israel.

If the marchers in London were marching for peace, rather than a side, then I could agree with them, but waving Palestinian flags shows which side they've chosen. 

I must admit I find it a struggle myself not to support one side or another, but I refuse to allow myself to be drawn into an unwinnable debate that ignores reality on the ground and seeks to apportion blame.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Holiday Washing of Phones

Overheard in the kitchen:

Hay: "Your washing up is atrocious."

Chairman: "I know. I don't know how you actually allow me to do it."

Hay: "Harrumph!"

Also overheard, but in the living room:

Hay: "Badger - could you phone my phone so I can find it?

Chairman, after looking around the room: "Only if you phone mine first, so I can find mine."

I don't know if it's only me, but have you noticed that the anti-lockdowners, who were screaming loudest about lockdowns decimating the UK tourist industry, seem to be the very ones who are desperate to decamp from the UK and holiday in Portugal, Spain, Italy or Greece and don't really give a stuff about the UK tourist industry's parlous state?

We haven't been abroad since 2014, and I can't really see us having a foreign holiday for the long time yet - there's simply too much to see around the UK, and I'll never tire of it. There again, having spent the majority of my working life travelling abroad, it no longer holds any magic for me. The travelling is intensely tiresome, for a start.

I find travelling and holidaying in groups the worst, as it involves lots of compromise, which I don't like when trying to relax.

Friday, 14 May 2021

Tea Conundrum

When making tea and there's water already in the kettle from the last time you made a cup, do you re-boil the old water or use fresh water?

I may be guilty of spreading fake news here, but I'm convinced that re-boiled water leaches the tea out of a teabag far quicker than using fresh water. 

It could be that re-boiled water has a slightly higher calcium content (we live in a hard water area), which sucks the tannins out quicker.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Queen's Speech II

No wonder Boris needed a donor to fund his flat redecoration - the bugger has an outstanding County Court Judgement. His credit record must be trashed.

Terrible situation in Palestine. Do you seriously think Boris is 'deeply concerned' about the violence, as he maintains? I think he feels he just has to say that and is more concerned about squirming out of the multiple inquiries into his questionable conduct. 

What would be a laugh would be for him to offer his undoubted international statesmanship, vast diplomatic skills gained as a sacked Foreign Secretary and natural gravitas as a mediator between the Palestinians and Israelis. He'd probably suggest it would be resolved with a bout of the Eton Wall Game and dinner at the Bullingdon Club.

OK, so at least we now know there's going to be an inquiry into the handling of the Covid debacle - but next spring? Say it lasts 3 years, which he'll ensure it does (if not longer), then he'll be in the clear. Leaving it till next year also gives the government time to bury any damning evidence. It can't be now, he maintains, because 'we're still in the middle of the crisis, which doesn't quite chime with his ebullient relaxing of lockdown restrictions. Can't help feeling that his push to be able to call elections whenever he wants is also aligned to this. Can't wait till the 21st May, when Dom Cummings appears before Committee.

I hear there's to be a reduction in university funding for the arts, but who needs people like historians? Simply get a list together of some people who did horrible things in the past, focus only on their positive attributes and build loads of statues to them. That should be enough for a history degree, surely?

Compulsory chipping for cats? Why? Never heard of anyone being killed by a cat. It would be curtains for any stray, including Railway, if he were ever caught. It's allegedly to assist lost cats being reunited with their owners, but cats tend to leave their owners for a reason. They're masters at finding better accommodation.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Queen's Speech

Universities are to be made to promote free speech, or be fined, while social media platforms are to police it, according to legislation contained within the Queen's Speech. The government's fake Culture War, which diverts attention from government failings by inventing enemies, continues.

Meanwhile, the government will engage in a bit of voter suppression in order to tackle a problem that doesn't actually exist - voter fraud. At the last General Election, there was one prosecution for voter fraud and two cautions, while it's estimated that 7.5% of the population has no access to approved photo ID. This piece of legislation is a naked attempt to disenfranchise a vulnerable section of the population and therefore deeply anti-democratic.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Cold Comfort

We went away to Bewdley in Worcs on Friday afternoon to meet up with an old friend of ours and do a bit of walking along the Severn over the weekend.

On Saturday I had one of the worst hay fever attacks I've ever had, which lasted all afternoon and evening - it was like powdered glass had been thrown into my eyes. I then awoke on Sunday with a voice like Barry White and a terrible cough, which obviously wasn't anything to do with hay fever.

On Monday morning I was worse, so I took my temperature, but it was normal. I had half a dozen lateral flow Covid test kits spare at home from a trial I was participating in and decided to use one to see whether I'd somehow managed, despite both jabs, to contract Covid - but no, it came up negative.

After over a year of successfully managing to dodge the highly contagious Covid virus, I'd ironically managed to contract a rather nasty, but far less contagious, rhinovirus (common cold) from a work colleague, who in turn got it from his kids (via school), which I had kindly passed on to Hay by Monday afternoon.

Monday, 10 May 2021

What Went Wrong?

Many are simply incapable of joining the dots on Curtaingate and are unable to make the obvious link between anonymous donations, bribery and corruption. So long as it's not public money that paid for Boris' flat refurb, they're not concerned. It's a genuine misconception about how corruption works. However, they're wilfully neglecting the PPE scandal. 

Many couldn't care less about the corruption, even if it's under their noses - their priorities are making ends meet, jobs and regeneration. If Boris promises cash for their area then that's enough for them, even if it's a tissue of lies and a temporary sop to garner votes - it's enough to swing them away from Labour.

The dedicated Boris sycophants aren't in the least bothered by corruption anyway - they'd be just as crooked in a similar situation. They're simply ecstatic that Boris delivered that crock of shit, Brexit. Their irrational hatred of foreigners clouds their judgement and they are willing to cut their collective noses off to spite their collective faces. They worship at the altar of the Daily Express, which these days makes even the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Spectator look decidedly left wing. For them, Boris can do no wrong and they wouldn't vote Labour if their lives depended on it. They vote according to the colour of their scarves and their perceived tribe, not policy.

For others, what sticks in the memory is how the Covid crisis ends, not the multiple cockups leading up to it and compounding the misery. 127.5k have died from Covid, half of them (according to estimates) avoidable, but at least it wasn't them and the vaccine rollout is therefore a resounding success. That's enough for them. They're only interested in themselves.

We're living in a time of infantilism of the electorate - cheap loans allow profligacy without thought of the consequences. Consequences of actions are meaning less and less. It's the 'now' that's important - being able to buy that big telly you don't have or go on a holiday, the price of which you stand little or no chance of paying back. We're in a time of rampant consumerism and a generation that wants it all - NOW! If Boris gives it them now, then he's the boy for them.

Despite Starmer being a poster boy for working class aspiration, most of the working class probably aren't actually aspirational. They're living hand to mouth, so Starmer, in his comfortable position, is identified by Corbynistas as a class traitor and too Metropolitan. Quite why that would make a Labour voter choose an elitist Conservative though, is a paradox (revenge can be a powerful emotion that drives people to do counterintuitive things), unless the Corbynistas simply wanted to give Starmer a good kicking - they are capable of a bit of self-flagellation at times. They need to give their heads a wobble and accept that Corbyn is history; too many distrust him and he's unelectable, regardless of how they feel about him.

Does Labour need someone like an Andy Burnham, with impeccable working class credentials and a working class accent? Well, the evidence says not - Blair wasn't exactly working class and delivered three stunning victories, despite Iraq.

There's a Westminster wisdom that says elections are usually not won by opposition parties and vote winning policies, but by governing parties losing through internecine backstabbing, civil war and destroying themselves from the inside, as happened in the Major and Brown administrations. Labour still hasn't exorcised the ghost of the unelectable Corbyn and it's the Labour Party that's currently engaged in a low-level civil war. Until that war is ended, they stand no chance and, even then, not until the Conservatives are turning on themselves in a feeding frenzy of monstrous egos and ambition, as they surely will due to Boris' embarrassing incompetence and tenuous relationship with truth.

What brought all this about was the fact that Labour chose the wrong Miliband brother.

Sunday, 9 May 2021


It's curious how while many things about us remain plastic throughout our lives, our accents are fixed relatively young in life and rarely change.

We were listening to Raymond Blanc on Radio 4 yesterday morning who, despite having lived in the UK for 40 of his 71 years, he still retains the comedy French accent that endears him to so many. 

Similarly, my father lived in the UK for over 40 of his 86 years and said; "Dis, dat and der udder," with a pronounced Dutch accent, when he meant; "This, that and the other." The dental fricative, 'th', was impossible for him to pronounce without strenuous effort involving lots of spitting.

When I came to the UK in 1961, aged 6, I couldn't speak a word of English. I was thrown into a primary school class in Southport where not a single individual had an inkling of what I was saying, but within 6 months I was fluent, including a West Lancashire accent which I have never lost, despite having moved to London, Reading and Bristol.

It demonstrates how our early childhood experiences, good or bad, influence us throughout our lives.

Another interesting thing that cropped up in the Raymond Blanc interview was the manner in which some words in English that have a French root have a different meaning in the original French. Any word in English that ends in 'able' comes from French and generally has the same meaning. However, while the English word formidable conjures up images of battle-axe housewives who inspire fear, in French it means amazing.

Saturday, 8 May 2021


Our household has been struggling to determine what's causing this shift to supporting a morally and ethically corrupt government and this nation's current predilection for self-flagellation.

The only reason we can arrive at is this newfound concept of nationalism. It has worked for every right-wing dictator - for a while. It's quite easy to convince the downtrodden that the reason for their plight is Johnny Foreigner, rather than government policy on minimum pay, tax, jobs, housing and everything that domestic central government is responsible for. It's what's driving English Conservatism, Scottish Nationalism and Welsh Nationalism - a visceral question of identity that is deeply rooted and yet defies any logic.

It invariably raises its head when a country is already in crisis but, rather than resulting in said country rising above others, it usually results in an even further descent into decline as the country concerned becomes internationally isolated and is pillaged by the wealthy.

To consider oneself to be exceptional, there has to be a scapegoat - exceptionalism doesn't arise in a vacuum. That scapegoat is foreigners, as it was for all nationalists of the past.

Boris Johnson has broken every promise he's ever made. Yes. he did promise to take the UK out of the EU and accomplished that, but rather than it leading to a promised, bureaucracy-free Utopia of sunlit uplands, it's turning into an explosion of additional red tape and industrial decimation in fishing, agriculture, manufacturing, finance, etc. Sending Royal Navy vessels to Jersey to confront irate French fishermen, while simultaneously ignoring the catastrophic damage you have done to the British fishing industry, beggars belief. 

Starmer is seen as a class traitor by many on the left, yet he's the epitome of aspiration, having risen from the working class. How do the left respond to this? They vote for a party that is totally elitist, which is illogical in the extreme. However, where the Conservatives have the upper hand is around the question of national identity, a deeply rooted construct that's based on primitive tribalism, which is antithetical to an advanced civilization.

It seems you can lie through your teeth while plundering the public purse, pay someone poverty wages, put them on a zero hours contract and take food from their children's mouths, but as long as you tell them they're exceptional and have won life's lottery by being born in a certain country, while being exceptionally vague about those exceptional attributes, you can do virtually anything. 

Perhaps Starmer needs to focus on vilifying foreigners and building more statues while waving a flag. 

What exactly are the British or, rather, the English, exceptional at? Food? No - the French and Italians beat us hands down on that (how many British restaurants do you see on the continent?). Work ethic? Again, no. The Germans regularly top the list for productivity and hard work. Countryside? Again no, as the Brits head off in their droves to France, Spain and Italy for that every year. Perhaps it's statue building... Ah, I have it - we drive on the left (however, I'm surprised the right allow us to drive on the left). Again, no - 76 countries drive on the left, although they're mainly ex British colonies. Is it our funny electrical plugs, perhaps?

A couple of things we are certainly good at are health and pop music, despite successive Conservative governments' attempts at selling off the former and Boris' best efforts to let the bodies pile high. 

I continually hear Brexiteers say; "Well, if you hate the UK so much, why don't you go to your beloved EU." The paucity of this argument is self-evident. It's precisely because I love my country that I will fight to prevent it descending into a mire of ineptitude and corruption by people who wholeheartedly believe  lies and collude with a morally bankrupt government. One only has to look at what happened across the Pond to see the result when an inveterate liar is voted into power, and to Putin's Russia to see what happens when a government can plunder the public purse with impunity.

Friday, 7 May 2021


The UK government is proposing to create a number of Freeports in Britain, maintaining this is only possible because we're out of the EU. This is patently false and yet another lie, as there are 80 Freeports within the EU, mainly in the poorer and more corrupt countries - and there's a reason for this.

One of the largest investors in Freeports is a Swiss art dealer called Yves Bouvier, who has interests in the Freeports of Geneva, Singapore and Luxembourg. He is also under investigation for owing over 100 million Euros in taxes.

Freeports are perfect vehicles for tax evasion when dealing with high value luxury items and for money laundering. It's more likely that they result in merely drawing investment from surrounding areas than adding to the total economy, so one wonders whet's behind the government's love affair with them, if not for assisting wealthy individuals to avoid tax.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

The Agony and the Ecstacy

Ever had one of those itches where you're willing to virtually lacerate your skin to stop the itching, and the pain endured while scratching the itch is almost welcome? You don't know which is more pleasurable.

I have several lesions on my back. They're the result of a reaction to a mineral oil I had on a boiler suit as a cadet in my youth. As a result, boils erupted on my back which formed into scar tissue lumps within which the nerves got mangled. These left me with areas on my back that occasionally itch like hell.

If one area starts to itch and I scratch it, the itch then moves around my back from lesion to lesion, like a nuclear chain reaction which goes critical, and the only way to satisfy the itch is to find a convenient doorpost to rub my entire back up against, like a bull elephant against a tree. The feeling is so, so, so good!

Scratching the itch produces a wonderful ecstasy, but I can sometimes scratch so violently that I risk ripping open the skin on my back, if I'm not careful. It makes you understand how some people get pleasure from running, hot massages, tattoos, eating hot curries, piercings, BDSM and even - yes - Brexit and support for Boris Johnson.

Apparently it's deeply routed in our biology and is a result of endorphins and anandamine, or 'the bliss chemical'.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Growing Pains and Percentages

We're seeing a lot of column inches telling us that Britain's economy is growing faster than virtually any other economy, but this is a relative increase and one has to consider that the UK has been one of the hardest hit economies in the world due to Covid because of longer lockdowns.

The UK getting back to equilibrium produces a far greater rate of increase than an economy which has been hit in only a minor way. It's good news, but not an indicator of growth following getting back to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity and nothing to necessarily crow about. When everyone has been locked down for a long time, the bounce back will occur over a short time at a very fast rate and then level off. All things being equal, any economy which has been hard hit by Covid will have a faster growth rate than one that hasn't been hit at all. 

Imagine the economy is a spring and the effect of Covid is pressure on the spring compressing it; when the pressure is released, a highly compressed spring - or an economy that's been highly affected - will spring back to its pre-compressed size at a rate of knots compared to one that's been only slightly compressed; however, the rate of bounce back will decrease as the pressure releases due to parts of the economy having been demolished and businesses having gone bust, as many have.

In the absence of any additional stimulus, the rate of growth is an indication of just how severely the economy was hit and nothing more. It certainly no guarantee that the economy will bounce back stronger than before Covid.

Similarly, when newspapers report that eating a particular food increases the risk of a certain disease by x%, that particular snippet it meaningless without knowing the base risk. If the base risk is low, then even a doubling of the risk is still low, but the media prefers spectacular numbers, regardless of what they actually mean.

We occasionally see reference to a particular political party or religion being the fastest growing in whatever country. If that party starts with half a dozen members and that increases to 18 over the period of a year, then that's a roaring rate of increase, but still a smaller absolute increase than a party with hundreds of thousands of members that increases its membership by a few hundred.

The media's misuse of statistics is woeful and nowhere more misleading than when reporting on science or economics but, as I said, percentages attract attention, and that's the reason they love to quote them without reference to the starting point.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

The Bodge

 When you think; "Ah, got that damned leak in the van sorted at last."

When you think; "Bugger, I forgot to put the bloody grommet back  under the tap - I'll have to dismantle the entire damned thing again."

When you think; "Oh bugger it - I'll slit the grommet and insert it without any dismantling."

"The well crafted bodge is indistinguishable from a perfect job," as an engineering friend once told me.

Monday, 3 May 2021

What to do About Boris

Conservatives are in a cognitively dissonant quandary. Even the most dyed-in-the-wool, flag and statue worshipping Tory knows Boris is terminally incompetent and a congenital liar, but they have nowhere else to go until such time as the party ditches and replaces him with someone having at least a semblance of competence, honesty and integrity. 

They have to support him, knowing they will be accused of supporting a liar and a cheat and they will resort to every trick in the book to square the circle to justify their action - you can take their defence of Boris with a pinch of the metaphorical salt, no matter how they attempt to trivialise accusations of corruption by calling it mere tittle-tattle about his choice of curtains. It's a desperate clutching at straws.

They may be congenitally wedded to inequality, hierarchical positions based on wealth, small government (which is useless in an emergency that demands excess capacity, as we have seen) and low taxes - but they're between a rock and a hard place, and they know it. Their morals and ethics (yes, many have them) have been trashed by having to support Boris, and they're embarrassed about it - probably fuming that they've been trapped into this position.

Labour supporters, on the other hand, have the refuge of the LibDems if corruption raises its head, but that only splits the left vote and is therefore a strategic weakness against a party where the only alternative - Farage - is unthinkable.

I am certain that many Tory voters are simply pinching their collective noses, temporarily switching off what passes for a moral compass, remaining in a holding pattern and hoping the party will come to its senses. Perhaps, with all the corruption leaks emanating from within the heart of government itself, this is exactly what's happening now and Tory voters are hoping this episode will be over swiftly. You won't hear them voicing that opinion though - they'll continue to provide the Liar in Chief with whatever support is necessary for the sake of their ideological cul-de-sac, despite it trashing their moral reputations and them having to argue black is white.

Where a shift in opinion may well become apparent is in the Red Wall constituencies, where the merest sniff of lies about levelling up with have dire consequences. The Tory party's need to get shot of its liability is urgent - and Dom Cummings, probably the shrewdest and most dangerous political manipulator of a generation, knows this. If Boris has to be sacrificed on the altar of ideology, then so be it.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Up and Over

Collected the garage doors and decided on the dual carriageway route back. I'd actually mis-measured them - I didn't realise there were actually 3 garage doors in the pile and I'd taken the measurement off a label of the one at the back, thinking it was one of mine, which was 6 inches shorter in width. Mine are 7' 6" in width each.

In the end, the total width was no more than that of a caravan. Managed to get them up the garden and positioned by the cabins with the aid of a couple of sons who were hanging around doing nothing.

A lick of suitably coloured paint and some darker wood stain and they'll look as if they're side-opening oak doors. Not bad for £160 for the pair. The decision, however, is whether to paint them as if they're weathered oak, like the major doors and windows of the house, or varnished oak, like the additional fake wooden doors we've put on the cabins and on the house porch extension and the AirBnB.

I haven't sanded and oiled the house main doors and windows for a couple of years, resulting in them going a weathered grey - perhaps I'll go back to sanding and oiling them so the house is harmonious - but for that I'll need to purchase a scaffolding tower. Our old one from the house build was nicked when Colin, our builder, borrowed them for another house he was working on. That was £900 down the drain, but I couldn't blame Colin - he did have them locked up in his van. A new, mobile tower would be a welcome addition.