Thursday, 30 June 2022

Recession vs Inflation

Recession and inflation - opposite ends of the same spectrum.

Recession leads to cuts in demand, which in turn means job losses. Inflation, however, produces an increase in demand and an overheated economy which, eventually leads to very high prices which can preclude a country from export markets, unless the currency falters on the international currency markets and the currency is depressed, which is the usual outcome. However, wages constantly chase high prices, which in itself can lead to job losses and a cooling of the economy.

we are currently, and curiously, facing both inflation and a recession at the same time, which seems a paradox. The technical name for this is stagflation, which poses serious problems for policy makers.

The constant refrain from our government during the current inflationary spiral is pay restraint, but we don't hear a single word on price restraint, so we know where the government's allegiance lies. Their desire to get everyone back into offices, despite many jobs being eminently capable of being performed from home, adds to this theory and it's rather hypocritical of them to castigate the rail workers for not updating their working practices when they simultaneously want large swathes of the population to engage in historic working practices without need.  Again we see them on the side of property owning donors; not even that of the business owners, who primarily rent office property and make a saving from having staff work from home.

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Heath-Robinson II

I cut the hole in the Plexiglass, but with problems. 

I initially began with the file drill bit, but I ended up putting a small split in the edge of the hole, which was indubitably due to it being only 3mm thick. I immediately switched to my electric scroll saw, now that there at least was a small hole in the Plexiglass that I could thread the blade though. Another problem then became apparent - the blade heated up the Plexiglass so much that the line I was cutting fused closed as soon as the blade moved on. Had to give it a couple of passes and then snap the circle out.

Fitted the flange, which was a tight fit, and then superglued the split (bottom photo) closed.

The secondary double glazing clips are the most curious shape - they're flush on one side and have a protrusion on the other, which I assume is either to go over the glazing unit, or is used to turn the clip if put the other way round. The fact there's a countersink on one side suggests that's the outward facing side.

I fitted them with the protrusion facing inward so as to nip the unit to the wall, but there's no suitable gap between the wall and the clip. I may turn them the other way round. I'm used to ones with a reasonably long shank that allows enough room for the business end of the clip to stand slightly proud of the wall so the glazing unit fits under it comfortably.

On reconsideration, 6mm Plexiglass would have been stronger and resisted splitting better, although the complete pane would have been twice the weight.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022


Plexiglass for the air-con window vent finally arrived yesterday.

You can see it balanced on the windowsill. The intention is to clip it to the wall around the window with secondary double glazing clips, which should arrive in the post today. This will allow me to mount it temporarily when we have heatwaves and stow it away at all other times.

I've scribed the hole for the white, plastic vent and have to collect one of those drill bits that's also a file from ScrewFix later today, which I will carve the hole with.

All rather Heath-Robinson, but not bad for a total cost, including the air-con itself, of £50, whereas I'd receive no change from £1,500 for a permanent installation.

Monday, 27 June 2022


When I was a teenager you could buy Wranger or Levi jeans with zip-flies, and they fitted perfectly. My preference was for Wranglers.

Since the retro introduction of the button-fly jeans, such as Levi 501s,  in the late 80s and 90s, you now have the option of perfectly fitting jeans with a pain-in-the-arse button-fly, or ill-fitting jeans with a zip-fly.

Going for a pee in button-fly jeans takes about half an hour, for heaven's sake.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Roe v Wade Paradoxes

The recent judgement to overturn Roe v Wade doesn't actually ban abortions, but merely pushes the decisions down to state legislatures, remembering that America is a Federal State.

However, those states that will enforce a ban on abortions must realise the paradoxes contained within their decision.

They maintain they are protecting the rights of the unborn child and protecting it from, essentially, its mother. However, once that child is born, the state says that the very person who wanted to 'kill' that child must now look after it. 

I can see someone bringing a case against these states, insisting that the states take charge of the child and ensure it has a good life until such time as the child is legally capable of making its own decisions - such as owning a gun with which to possibly kill other people.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Camshaft Craft

 Came across this in the same place I picked up the aircon unit:

A lamp made from a camshaft and a pulley wheel.

Now, most camshafts are solid all the way through, meaning they have to be gun drilled, like a rifle barrel, to create the hole through which the light cable passes - very expensive, if you can find a gunsmith to do it. Some people don't bother with this and have the flex running down the side of the camshaft, but that's not aesthetically pleasing and looks a bit ramshackle.

As it transpires, a lot of Vauxhalls have hollow camshafts, so a tame mechanic I know is looking for a pair for me from the vast number of dead engines littering his yard. For the bases I have already liberated some gear wheels from a scrap bin at a local garage. 

Before doing any welding, assuming I find a couple of suitable camshafts, I'll need to thoroughly degrease and polish the lot.

Watch this space.

Stop Press: a camshaft found, but it seems it's a solid one, so the search continues.

I do like junk!

Friday, 24 June 2022

Two Cut Season

Looks like the Common outside our house is destined for two cuts this year. They do this when there's been a good period of early growth - most years it's just a single cut in August.

Usually it's left to dry and turned for a couple of days, but this year it was baled within 24 hours.

We're so lucky to have such a large, natural area of common the size of several football fields just outside the gates.

Talking of Commons - nice wins in Wakefield and Tiverton. The public has had enough of a PM who is constantly in campaign mode - i.e. making promises he has no intention of honouring.

Thursday, 23 June 2022


 The government is making much of rail workers holding the country hostage.

  • According to government statistics, only 10% of the workforce uses trains to commute to work - that embraces all forms of rail transport, including those modes not striking.
  • The rail workers held a democratic vote on striking - striking being the only means available to them if the rail companies are unwilling to negotiate in good faith.
  • According to YouGov, more of the public supports the strikes than opposes them.
  • If the rail workers are guilty of holding the country to ransome, then the rail companies are also guilty - it takes two parties to have an argument.
  • I find it hard to believe that many nurses and firefighters use rail to get to work. Granted, a small number may, but not the vast majority as they work locally. Nurses were up in arms about car parking charges at hospitals, which suggests cars are the main transport, regardless of what the government says - you can't believe anything they say anyway. In any case, firefighters, nurses, lawyers, etc. will be the next ones to go on strike and then the government will turn on them - it's what this government does best.
  • Lawyers are more likely to use the trains to get from leafy suburbs to their offices, but there's no love lost between lawyers and this criminal government.
  • The number of school children travelling to school by train must be miniscule - mainly day pupils at public schools.
  • The rail operators are unable to make any offers without government permission, as the government holds the purse strings. It's also written into their charters that they need government permission, so government HAS to be involved.
  • Rail companies made £50m last year, when travel was depressed. Shareholder dividends are not under pressure.
  • The government makes much of the need for updated practices in the rail industry, while simultaneously taking the country headlong into the 1950s with Brexit. Christ - even polio is making a comeback!
  • As for a pay rise stoking inflation - anything less than the 11% rate of inflation is actually a drop in pay.

What's the solution? A negotiated settlement somewhere mid way between what's demanded and what's offered. Both will be at the extremes - that's the nature of negotiation. Starmer is quite right not to take sides - he should be in a position between the two, which is exactly where consensus will be found. The government, meanwhile, is desperate for Starmer to come down on the side of the rail workers, who have started their negotiations with an unrealistic demand, as anyone would do, including the rail companies.

On another issue - as for the UK overriding parts of the ECHR - No, No, No! The ECHR is there to protect me from the likes of Dominic Raab, for God's sake.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022


Have you noticed how the nights are drawing in?

For a number of months I've been considering buying and installing an air-conditioning system to use upstairs in the house which, due to a design fault on my part, gets hideously hot during heatwaves, which seem to be on the increase.

The upstairs windows, which are long and narrow at both ends of the house, open from the bottom, hinging from the top, and only open about 6 inches. This means there's little scope for letting hot air out of the bedroom, which comprises the entire upstairs. Additionally, we have a vaulted ceiling, which also captures the hot air as it rises and retains it  it has nowhere to escape.

We do have one, small, side-opening window, but it's no higher than waist height, so doesn't do much to let the heat out.

There's a couple of structural solutions:

  • Change the hinges on the long, tall windows so they open at the top, rather than the bottom,
  • Put a Velux window in the roof, through which the heat can escape naturally. 
Both are quite expensive and moving the hinges on the long, tall windows won't do that much due to their restricted opening, which is because of their weight.

I've been keeping an eye out for a 2nd hand, wall mounted aircon with sufficient oomph to cater for the huge volume, but have so far been unsuccessful. 

However, as luck would have it, I called in at a local car dealership that my colleague and I buy cars for. They were having a refurbishment of the customer area and were getting rid of a De Longhi, mobile aircon unit. I took possession of it for free.

Given we only have a few really hot days a year, a wall mounted unit would be overkill, but a mobile on this size is perfect, especially when it costs nothing. When not required, it can be stored in my (as yet unfinished) workshop.

It does still have a problem, in that the duct for the hot air has to be vented outside. The usual way of doing this with a mobile unit is to hang the hose out of a window, which is not very efficient due to the gaps. I have a couple of options:

  1. Insert a permanent exit vent into the wall of the house, or
  2. Tap a vent into the wood burner's stainless steel chimney, which passes through the bedroom.

Tapping into the chimney vent would be the cheapest. The vent would need to be capable of being sealed off when not in use, as we don't want wood smoke in the bedroom, not that we ever use the wood burner, except in an emergency. You can get inspection hatches, used for when sweeping the chimney and, with a bit of modification, that would seem the best solution. The hot air could then vent naturally up the stainless steel pipe.

There are polythene window covers you can get, but they look rather flimsy and faffy to me.

There is one other, very cheap solution - a simple, cardboard sheet over the small window with a hole cut into it for the heat pipe. Not elegant, but simple and effective for the week or so of really hot weather. I tried it and it works.

However, I've ordered a sheet of 1m x 60cm x 3mm acrylic, which I will pin to the window aperture with clips, cutting a suitable hole into for the vent pipe. It can be easily mounted and dismounted and will be virtually hermetically sealed.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Desk Detritus

 My desk is looking a bit of a tip. I thought I'd do an inventory:

  • Laptop,
  • Leather Filofax,
  • Set of Stanley knives,
  • Set of scalpels,
  • Bicycle headlight,
  • Genius power pack,
  • Vinyl wrap spreader,
  • iSteady gimbal instruction manual,
  • Tennis ball,
  • Small, Philips screwdriver,
  • Induction charger,
  • USB cable for phone charging,
  • USB cable for vape charging,
  • USB cable for iSteady gimbal charging,
  • Pack of spectacle headbands,
  • 2 x spectacle cases, one for sunglasses, one for broken spectacles,
  • Small, wooden pillbox for used and reconditioned vape atomisers,
  • Vape juice,
  • 2 x Ventilin inhalers, both part used,
  • 2 x facemasks,
  • Back scratcher,
  • Cloth cutter,
  • Wooden coaster made by No.1 Son a decade ago,
  • Slate coaster with the HMS Conway crest on it (old school),
  • Laptop mouse,
  • iSteady gimbal,
  • Clip from bicycle that fixes something (can't remember what) to handlebars,
  • Spectacle pouch,
  • Several memo pads,
  • Vape,
  • Espresso cup,
  • Door lock spring,
  • WD40 can.
That's just on the desk part. I really need a clear-up, says Hay.

Monday, 20 June 2022

Metric Martyr

Given The Greased Piglet wants a return to Imperial Measurement, I thought I'd temporarily change my car's MPG reading to metric as an experiment. The experiment, however, was short-lived.

I was surprised to discover than metric doesn't mean kilometres per litre, but litres per 100 kilometres, a reversal of the base from fluid to distance, returning a 57.6 MPG equivalent of something like 4.9 litres per 100km which, being in single digits, is obviously a lot less sensitive than a measurement in double digits. 

Switching the base means that with litres per 100km you're aiming for a lower figure, whereas with fluid as the base you're aiming for a higher figure. 

Think I'll stick to MPG. 

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Haile Selassie

I'm currently reading a book about Haile Selassie, which comprises stories from those who surrounded him as factotums and flunkies, of which he had many.

One passage stood out like a sore thumb:

"Though everyone - if he proved his loyalty - could count on a bountiful gift, there were still continuous quarrels between lobbies, constant struggles for privileges, incessant grabbing, and all because of the needs of that bird of paradise that fills every man. His Most Extraordinary Majesty liked to watch this elbowing. He liked the people of the court to multiply their belongings, he liked their accounts to grow and their purses to swell. I don’t remember His Magnanimous Highness's ever demoting someone and pressing his head to the cobblestones because of corruption. Let him enjoy his corruption, as long as he shows his loyalty! Thanks to his unequalled memory and also to the constant reports, our monarch knew exactly who had how much. But as long as his subject behaved loyally, he kept this knowledge to himself and never made use of it. But if he sensed even the slightest shadow of disloyalty, he would immediately confiscate everything and take the bird of paradise away from the embezzler, Thanks to that system of accountability, the King of Kings had everyone in his hand, and everyone knew it."

Remind you of anyone?

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Northern Ireland Solution

Not happy with imposing sanctions on England, Scotland and Wales for ideological reasons, the Tory government seems intent on dragging Northern Ireland, which is currently the only part of the UK that enjoys a growing economy by virtue of being part of the UK and the EU, down to its level.

Here's a somewhat logical solution to the problem - let the people of Northern Ireland decide, although that might be a bit too democratic for Boris Johnson. He can't really afford to have a prospering part of the UK on his doorstep, as it highlights the utter folly of Brexit. It's a bit like Putin not wanting Ukraine to join the EU - too embarrassing.

If Boris was a real leader, he'd urge the Northern Ireland Assembly to convene and vote on whether to maintain the status quo, or accept a hard border with Eire. Now the DUP would undoubtedly refuse to play ball, but any leader worth the name would respond with the threat of a referendum on the issue within Northern Ireland - and we all know what result that would provide.

It could even provide ammunition for Wales and Scotland to demand such a referendum, which would be an alternative to independence, leaving Little England isolated with its borders intact and fully under control.

In another story, the government is threatening to bring in agency workers to replace striking rail staff. However, what was the reaction of the government when P&O brought in agency staff? They were up in arms! There's no rhyme or reason to this bunch of clowns.

In yet another story, Lord Geidt makes it known that Johnson was disingenuous in linking his resignation to steel tariffs and he was actually asked to give cover to Johnson in some other law breaking. No surprise there then - the leopard hasn't changed its spots. 

Friday, 17 June 2022

Day & Night Driving

God, it's surprising how much attention a bit of beard topiary gets. I was wrong yesterday, it was the 30th of March when I last shaved, not my birthday.

Quick moustache update after some more carving around the bottom lip (aka the soul patch on the mentolabial sulcus, which is quite extensive on my facial hair) and a bit more slashing back on the lower cheeks:

Still not fully happy with the result and may have to carve a bit more away on the underside, but I'll see how it goes. Can't see it lasting for more than a couple of weeks anyway; there's only so much willy waving you can do.

Back to the subject at hand. Got an emergency call from Hay on Tuesday - she was at work in Filton (thank God it wasn't Weston-Super-Mare, Swindon, Cardiff or Gloucester, which it could easily have been) and had tried to move her car at lunchtime, but the key was stuck in the ignition and wouldn't crank the engine.

I looked up the fault on a Chrysler Crossfire forum and saw it was common in older cars and had something to do with either the tumblers in the ignition lock, or the pin that locked the steering column - not necessarily expensive, but not possible to fix quickly roadside.

I was about to call a friend in the trade to go and collect it on his transporter, but thought I'd better go and have a butcher's myself first.

I arrived in her work car park and spotted the car. Climbed inside and, yes, the key was in the ignition and wouldn't come out. I turned the key and all the dash lights came on, but no power to the starter motor.

I happened to look in the direction of the automatic gear shift and, lo and behold, she'd left it in Drive, rather than Parked. Slipped it into P and everything was fine. Hay was, needless to say, rather embarrassed.

When I got back to Old Sodbury I decided to fill my car at the local service station and recounted the experience to my friend Juan, who works part time behind the till. He said he had a similar experience, or rather his wife did, when he bought her an automatic car. Juan himself can't drive, as he has narcolepsy, whereby he can suddenly fall asleep unexpectedly, which is not advisable when driving. The car worked fine for his wife during the day, but wouldn't move at night. He finally tracked the issue down to his wife and her interpretation of the letters on the automatic shift - she was under the impression that D stood for Day and N stood for Night. A far better story than mine.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

The Magnificence of a Moustache

I last shaved on my birthday on the 22nd March, intending to grow a bigger beard for a while.

However, it was getting a bit out of control, so I thought I'd do a bit of topiary and go back to a Kenneth Branagh / Poirot moustache.

The carving process was quite simple, but it does require a bit more attention with the clippers before it's in the required shape - as you can see, there are a few stray hairs.

Made up some moustache wax from some beeswax I had left from when I made up some furniture wax, mixed with beard balm, which is too soft to use for styling. The resultant mix is provides adequate hold, but I burned it slightly when using the blowtorch to melt it and so it mings a bit, not that it bothers me that much. The smell soon goes away - I think.

The problem with cultivating a 'tash like this in summer is the heat - makes the wax melt quite easily and you and up with serious droop. Drinking coffee or tea also tends to melt the wax, meaning frequent styling throughout the day. A sticky, wax-covered comb in your back pocket is a necessity.

Hay hates it and thinks it's a bit of a male, willy waver thing. It might just be the smell of burnt wax or the fact I leave waxy fingerprints all over the place.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Rwanda Conundrum II

So the flight to Rwanda didn't leave and The Greased Piglet is muttering about leaving the ECHR, which many still confuse with the EU.

What Johnson is probably unaware of is that the ECHR underpins the GFA. However, he might just want to ditch the GFA with his meddling in the NIP (sorry for all the letters).

To those who support the sending of refugees to Rwanda, I'd ask them whether they'd agree to sending Ukrainian refugees to Rwanda and, if not, why not? They also have crossed several 'safe countries' to get here, although that is immaterial, unless we were still in the EU and could invoke the Dublin Agreement. There can only be one, obvious answer. I'm open to other suggestions though.

If Ukrainian refugees and Hong Kong residents are allowed in, that makes a mockery of the racists' refrain that; "We're full up!"

I wonder whether the Congolese refugees waiting to come here from Rwanda will still be sent?

It's all getting very messy, but it's all calculated to deflect from Johnson's other woes and regroup his xenophobic, core support. The phrase; "Sleep-walking into fascism," comes to mind, although it seems Johnson and his cronies are striding into it with a purrpose.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Legal Opinion

I heard NI Secretary, Brandon Lewis, being interviewed on radio on Sunday morning, maintaining the government had received legal opinion that ditching the NI Protocol did not contravene international law. However, he refused to say where this legal opinion came from.

It was reported last week that James Eadie QC, the First Treasury Counsel, was consulted on the legality, but was specifically not asked to give an opinion.

During the interview, Lewis repeated the debunked lie that the UK was able to approve the Covid vaccine earlier than the EU because of Brexit, which is categorically not true. If he's prepared to make a bare-faced lie that he knows to be a lie in respect of this, then why should we believe anything coming from his mouth on the legality of trashing the NIP? 

The Johnson kleptocracy staggers from one calamity of monumental incompetence to the next.

Monday, 13 June 2022

Rwanda Conundrum

I've been reading the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and Rwandan governments on the refugee issue, and it threw up some surprises (it's always recommended to read the source material).

  1. Section 5 - the UK will be responsible for the initial screening of the asylum seekers. Given that information leaked to the Times newspaper suggests that numbers will be limited to 300 a year, there obviously must be some screening of the thousands who arrive here each year, as it's obvious not all will be sent to Rwanda.
  2. Section 8.2 - a relocated individual will be free to come and go as they please, which means they'll be free to try to get into the UK again, without hindrance, but disappear into the woodwork.
  3. Section 11.1 - the Rwandan government has to make a relocated individual available for transfer to the UK, should the UK be legally obliged to facilitate that person's return. Does that mean they expect to have to do this on legal challenges?
  4. Section 16 - the UK has agreed to take some of the most vulnerable refugees already in Rwanda.
  5. Section 23 - the duration of the agreement is just 5 years.
Section 16 seems to make the whole process somewhat illogical and makes it nothing more than a refugee swap.

Overall, it seems to be an attempt to show the UK government is doing something, while doing very little, which is par for the course for this incompetent  kleptocracy we call a government.

The Israeli government tried this exact procedure with Rwanda, but it was eventually overturned in the Israeli courts as contravening international law. One suspects the same will happen here following the imminent judicial review and, once again, the judges will be the target of the right wing tabloids for merely applying laws that governments have signed up to.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

Signalised Roundabouts

Going round the southern and eastern part of Bristol is what is called the Ring Road, which has large roundabouts at regular intervals. What I can't get to grips with is why they also have traffic lights.

I can understand traffic lights being used at times of high flow, but these operate continuously and therefore negate the need for the roundabouts in the first place.

The purpose of a roundabout is not only to facilitate flow at a crossroads, but to slow traffic at an approach to a junction, so that any accident that may occur does so at a much reduced speed - the mere process of going round a roundabout slows a car down dramatically.

My confusion over the purpose of both traffic lights and a roundabout is compounded by the fact that a roundabout just before final approaches to the Ring Road's junction with the A4 between Bath and Bristol has recently undergone extensive roadworks to remove the roundabout. 

Perhaps it's just a belt and braces approach, or queue detection is in operation. Any input is most welcome in resolving my confusion.

Saturday, 11 June 2022


I wonder whether anyone has speculated on the Russian Rouble, buying it when it crashed and waiting for the war to end so as to make a bundle.

In the words of Warren Buffet; "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful." The professionals are fearful and advising against buying the Rouble.

The sanctions certainly won't last forever and it's debatable whether they're even having any effect. A study of over 170 cases where sanctions have been used in the past has shown they're effective only in 34% of cases.

With winter approaching and gas imports peaking, there will be pressure on both sides in the conflict to to start peace negotiations.

Friday, 10 June 2022


Overheard in Pembroke':

Chairman: "Is this a charity shop?"

Hay; "Of course not - can't you see it's a gift shop?"

Chairman; "Don't forget I have my new specs on, so I can't see a thing."

I bought some replacement specs from Glasses Direct, or some such on-line emporium, but I think I chose the wrong varifocal option and I've been staggering around like an old person for a week. Changes in the floor level are invisible and tripping is a daily hazard.

Spotted this lovely selfie-stick holder in one of the charity shops.

We bought some food in a Co-Op there. I've seen everything now.

Can no-one boil eggs anymore?

Thursday, 9 June 2022

These Are Not the Promises You're Looking For

In order to give the impression of change and save his bacon, The Greased Piglet is to announce a slew of new, populist policies in the coming weeks - policies which, again, won't be delivered, much as all his policies and promises to date haven't been delivered.

  • 50,000 more nurses and 6,000 more GPs
  • 40 new hospitals.
  • 20,000 more police.
  • Getting Brexit done.
  • No checks on good going between UK and NI and NI to UK.
  • Points-based immigration system.
  • No rise in income taxes or National Insurance.
  • Fixing the crisis in the care system.
  • Keeping the Triple Lock.
  • Spending 0.7% of GNI on international aid.
  • Fastest vaccine roll-out in Europe.
  • Fastest growth in G7.

Here we have a photo of Johnson doing his Jedi mind trick, saying; "These are not the promises you are looking for."

The problem is that he hasn't actually mastered the technique. His problem is the lack of commitment or planning and the fact his Cabinet is stuffed with fiercely loyal incompetents.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022


We had our annual Village Day on Sunday and, given the rain on Monday, we left the dismantling and packing away of all the marquees till yesterday afternoon.

The climax of every Village Day is the Tug of War, in which different streets, roads and lanes compete against each other, in a men's event and a women's event. We will probably come under fire for not having a trans event, but seriously, merely putting on a wig and smearing yourself in lipstick to join the women's team is cheating.

I have a suggestion to improve the commitment and effort of the participants, which I intend to put to the Village Hall Committee - the trophy should be the gilded skulls of the losing team.

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

No Confidence

So Johnson has won the vote of no confidence. It has been suggested that one reason is the lack of credible challengers, but what about Tobias Ellwood, Jeremy Hunt, Ben Wallace or Tom Tugendhat?

Certainly no-one in the Cabinet, as Johnson has selected sycophants with about the same level of competence as himself, so that they are no threat. Arguably, many don't even have a single vestige of competence, such as Nadine Dorries, who in her defence of Johnson accused former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of being unprepared for a pandemic and believes we're currently at war with Russia.

For those within the Tory Party to say there's no-one competent enough to supersede a corrupt liar and charlatan is a severe indictment indeed, as Johnson is the epitome of incompetence.

His win last night was with a lower percentage support than May, who was gone within 6 months of winning her vote of no confidence; however, time will be short if he does get removed. He's not immune, as many believe, as the 1922 Committee (which was formed in 1923) can change its rules about his not being subject to another vote for 12 months. If Johnson can play fast and loose with rules, so can they. 

The danger now is of a Labour landslide at the next GE, which could be as dangerous as the Tory landslide that brought Johnson into power – large majorities are not good for politics and the ghost of Corbyn has not yet been fully excised from the Labour Party. We have seen how a small element of the Tory Party - the extremist ERG - exercised almost total control over it. The same could happen with a large Labour majority over a single, divisive issue.  

What’s certain is that Johnson will learn no lesson from this and will continue his reign of misrule, repeating his first year’s Queen’s Speech over and over again because of his inability to consider the consequences of his policies – he’s spectacularly unable to develop coherent plans and spends all his time firefighting while claiming he’s delivered what he patently hasn’t. 

The Tories lost their chance of an excellent PM when they voted for Johnson rather than Rory Stewart.

Monday, 6 June 2022

Cat Wall

We've been looking after Jumbo (real name, Jimmy) while his owners - our neighbours - have been on holiday. 

Unfortunately, Jumbo and Kitty don't get on too well (in fact, they detest each other) and Jumbo has a habit of refusing to use the cat flap in his own house and taking up residence with us - even when his owners are in residence - requiring us to boot him out regularly do Kitty doesn't become too stressed.

To establish some form of détente, we've had to introduce an International Cat Wall.

That's Kitty on the left and Jumbo on the right. It works quite effectively.

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Jubilee & Monarchy

Never in the field of digital photography will so many Platinum Jubilee photos be lost when phones are upgraded. Sad, but true.

So Boris was booed and jeered when entering and leaving St Paul's on Friday. True to form, Nadine Dorries, Johnson's unthinking attack-dog, waded in and said there were more cheers than boos. I think she needs spelling lessons - it's spelled 'jeers', not 'cheers' and I think she was merely parroting Johnson's claim that; "There was no booze."

I do sometimes wonder whether those who vehemently support the monarchy would support it as much if Andrew or Harry, were direct in line to the throne? If not, then it's not the institution of the monarchy they support, but the present incumbent who, with the exception of the occasional and forgivable slip, has performed the job in an exemplary manner. However, her powers are limited and she is little more than a cypher to whatever malfeasance the government may get up to. That is not good when the incumbent is capable and loved and the government hated, but extremely good in the case of an incompetent and hated monarch and a government that's liked.

That's not to say a cypher doesn't have its uses - a good cypher is a potent rallying point in times of crisis; an embodiment of the country as a whole. Louis XIV, the Sun King, took this to the zenith of its conclusion in his statement; "L'état, c'est moi," which some maintain is apocryphal.

My abiding memory of Queen Elizabeth is opening Parliament in a hat that looked suspiciously like the flag of the European Union. She has ways of making her views known.

It is rather strange that millions of flag waving monarchists have brought chaos to town centre roads across the country over the Bank Holiday weekend with their protests in support of the Queen, but the police never moved them on. However, just a handful of animal rights or climate protesters make some people go bonkers and demand their execution.

At least Elizabeth has shown unswerving, 70 year dedication to duty, whereas those at the top of our government have, in a very short space of time, trashed the very notion of duty in favour of greed, complacency, self-servience, lethargy and utter incompetence. The fault for that lies with the Prime Minister, who has eliminated within his Cabinet anyone who could feasibly challenge him - dogged loyalty has trumped competence. He then compounds his greed and debases his office by rewriting the Ministerial Code such that what was once a resignation issue is no longer relevant.

No wonder Britain is no longer trusted or revered internationally, being a byword for corruption. Britain talks big on the international stage of the rule of International Law, while simultaneously showing every inclination to defy it when it's convenient. Honesty, decency and integrity lie in the gutter at the feet of this PM.

However, on the bright side, I'm looking forward to buying Malbec by the gallon in Tesco. Oh, hang on, wine makers don't use Imperial measurements....

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Blotters and Copybooks

No.1 Son and I were having a discussion on the imminent elimination of Boris Johnson. He asked whether Rishi Sunak would win the race to replace him, to which I responded that Sunak had blotted his copybook.

I was horrified to discover that No.1 Son was totally ignorant of what that phrase meant. He pointed out that blotting was something that was done when people used fountain pens and he had no idea what a copybook was. For him - a 24 year-old - the phrase was from the deep recesses of history.

It makes one feel old when one has to explain phrases which were common currency not that long ago.

Friday, 3 June 2022

A Well-Deserved Foreign Holiday

Who on earth chooses to holiday abroad to holiday hotspots just as we're recovering, economically, from Covid? It's madness and chaotic airports are a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Reading news stories, people are saying they deserve a foreign holiday now. Deserve? Perhaps those who maintained vital public services deserve a holiday, but do they - or indeed anyone - deserve a foreign holiday? For the majority, furlough was one long, paid holiday.

I don't think we've had a foreign holiday since we went to Gozo in 2014, and I'm not missing going to foreign climes. In fact, Gozo was a hell-hole of unairconditioned heat, which I didn't particularly enjoy.

My advice to those who really want to go abroad is to not go to the places everyone else wants to go to - the chances of flights being delayed are massively smaller. Try Ukraine, Syria or Somalia - can't see any scrambling for seats on flights to those destinations.

Further advice would be to holiday within the UK. The worst that could happen is that your holiday comprises one large deluge of rain and a bit of windy weather. At least you'd be infinitely more guaranteed of reaching your destination and getting back. Why risk torture with an attendant high cost?

Thursday, 2 June 2022

The Negotiation Window

Ukraine is becoming a problem and Zelensky is going to have to face up to some difficult decisions, before it's too late.

  • It would seem Ukraine's ascendancy is now under threat and Putin is focusing on the eastern area of Ukraine on his borders.
  • The West is supporting Ukraine with weapons, but not boots on the ground, and quite understandably not. 
  • The West is also supporting Ukraine with sanctions (primarily oil) but, as the oil tapers off it becomes more expensive, so Russia is, arguably, still getting the same revenues as pre-sanctions.
  • The cost of weapons and the effects of sanctions are hitting the West too, and it's a drain that can't be sustained indefinitely, as we're facing our own problems. Unity is already wavering and will waver more as winter approaches.

A stage is going to be reached when the desire by the West to see Putin kicked in the teeth is outweighed by the cost of supporting Ukraine - and Ukraine-fatigue will set in. We're talking realpolitik here, versus idealism - it's others who are dying to satisfy our prurient desires.

Zelensky can only negotiate successfully from a position of strength, and that position of strength has already, arguably, passed as Russia regroups and is starting to have successes in the east.

Should Ukraine cede parts of the country, parts that would be a running sore for decades to come if retained, rather than risking losing the entire country? Russia is much better resourced in the long term and therefore better positioned in a war of attrition. If Western aid falters, then Zelensky and Ukraine are done for. Western involvement, particularly in the area of sanctions, is totally dependent on the support of the electorate and will last only as long as the sanctions don't hurt them too much. Putin doesn't need the support of his electorate, which he merely a passive drones to manipulate to his advantage.

The possible fall of Putin will not result in Russia suddenly being admitted to the ranks of liberal democracies - corruption is firmly entrenched and another hard man would simply replace him. 

The window for negotiation and salvaging something from this is fast closing, if it hasn't already shut. Even if a peace is agreed, the West will have to shoulder the cost of rebuilding Ukraine - Russia certainly won't.

As I've said since the start of this conflict, the long-term objective has to be articulated and strategy formulated around that, taking into consideration pragmatic realities and timescales. The objective cannot possibly be the permanent expulsion of Russian forces from the eastern areas - Ukraine-fatigue will set in well before that could feasibly happen, and even then it would not be a permanent cessation of hostilities.

Ceding eastern areas, well populated by Ukrainian nationalists, would create a poisoned chalice for Russia; retaining eastern areas, well populated by secessionists, would be a poisoned chalice for Ukraine. That's just simple fact.

It's entirely understandable that the Ukrainian government wants the complete expulsion of Russian forces, but is that possible and, if so, would it lead to a cessation of hostilities? Think of Eire and Northern Ireland on the island of Ireland. Who has had the greater problems in Northern Ireland - Eire or the UK? Learn from history, which has a tendency to repeat itself.

I totally accept that talk of ceding parts of Ukraine to Russia will be seen as defeastism and appeasement to Ukrainians and, indeed, many in the West. I would see it that way if I were a Ukrainian. However, it's just facing up to a fast approaching necessity. Additionally, ceding part of Ukraine to secure peace would allow Greater Ukraine to then join NATO, which is impossible in the present circumstances. That's a massive strategic gain ensuring permanent protection for Greater Ukraine. Putin may not want that, but if he wants the separatist areas, that's the price he will have to pay.

The best analogy I can come up with is having your arm or leg amputated to save the rest of your body and then having the remaining body covered in armour.

It's a mistake to think that public support, once achieved, is unwavering. As soon as a policy decision hurts the voter, attitudes to that once universally-acclaimed policy will and do change. The public is fickle in the face of personal loss.

Most of us alive today lived through the Cold War. Another Cold War with a fascist, totalitarian Russia, rather than communist, totalitarian Russia, is nothing new.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022


 I've coined a new word in our domestic vocabulary - strongteaum.

Hay always makes her tea in the manner of builders - very strong - whereas I prefer a more delicate brew favoured by woke, European philosophers - weak with a bit of sugar.

That made the portmanteau word 'strongteaum' to burst forth from my mouth and, henceforth, a brew for Hay will be termed strongteaum.