Tuesday 31 January 2023

Independent Advisers

Ref Sunak and Zahawi: a PM doesn't need an Ethics Adviser. An Ethics Adviser, unless a lawyer steeped in ethics or a senior civil servant with decades of constitutional expertise, has no particular expertise or qualifications that the PM himself or herself doesn't have, and certainly no more than the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. 

Using the advice of an Ethics Adviser appointed by the one who decides on the issue, in the final instance, is not due process. Due process is a requirement that legal matters be resolved according to established rules and principles, and that individuals be treated fairly, not on the whim of the PM. Only a lawyer trained in ethics, or a senior Civil Servant, is qualified to pronounce judgement on such issues, not an ex banker, as the current Independent Adviser is.

The earliest published form of the Ministerial Code is a result of the QPM's release by the Major Government in 1992. Subsequent governments made various amendments, but the final arbiter was always the PM of the day.

The Adviser under Tony Blair was Comptroller and Auditor General Sir John Bourn. When Gordon Brown came into office in June 2007 he appointed Sir Philip Mawer, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, as the Independent Adviser on Ministers' Interests. Both of these individuals were senior Civil Servants with very responsible roles in Parliament and therefore well versed in government and parliamentary issues, having their work overseen by Parliamentary Committees of MPs.

Since 2020 (under a certain Boris Johnson), two Independent Ethics Advisers appointed by Johnson have resigned; one in protest over their advice not being heeded and the other for lies on the part of Johnson during an investigation. To lose one may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.

Liz Truss didn't even think she needed an Independent Adviser.

Why can the Advisor not be the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards?

Monday 30 January 2023

Royal Families Paradox

It's strange how we're encouraged to rally around our Royal Families in times of crisis, as if they embody the spirit of the nation, when they are invariable rather unrepresentative of the nation in so many ways.

Royal marriages used to be made to foster political alliances with other countries and this would invariably result in the dilution of the native blood within that Royal Family. 

You have only to look at King Harold of 1066 fame - he is portrayed as a Saxon, his father being the Saxon Earl Godwinson, whereas his mother was Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, a Dane and a niece of King Knut and, therefore, Harold was himself half Viking.

Predating Harold, Edward the Confessor's mother was Emma of Normandy, who herself was of Viking/French stock and descended from Rollo, the Viking who was given land in Normandy as a bribe to stop him raiding France. Seems the Vikings were everywhere at the time.

It continued unabated with marriages into most European dynasties, to the extent that the English bloodline is quite diluted, until we reach Diana, were marginally more than 50% is English and vastly more than 50% in the case of William's kids.

Throughout our history, we've been rallying around foreigners, if you count blood as a marker of patriotism, which many do. Perversely, and paradoxically, those who espouse the blood and soil mantra are the most vociferous Royalists. 

In England, however, a monarch has never married a partner of a different race and I wonder what would happen if one did? I'm certain some would have a big issue with it.

It brings into question the entire construct of nationality. Is it fixed at birth by location, does it depend on bloodline or can it be selected at will? Take me, for example - by birth I'm Dutch, by bloodline I'm Anglo-Dutch, by choice I'm British.

Sunday 29 January 2023


I don't know why, but I seem to be one of those people who can't keep a beanie hat on straight. It only takes about half an hour and the thing either migrates to the top of my head, or take on a jaunty, skewed angle to my right.

It's almost as if I have a pointy head. 

I looked up tips but, except for the pinning, I observe them all. Must be something to do with wearing spectacles. They also have a habit of jauntiness.

Saturday 28 January 2023

Workbench Light Update

Well, I received the 2m length of bendy, LED strip light (with UK plug) intended for my innovative workbench light, but was horrified to discover it didn't have a self-adhesive side, so I ordered some double-sided tape from e-Bay with which to stick it to the underneath of the length of water pipe. That meant another couple of days of delay.

Yes, I could possibly have got some from ScrewFix or ToolStation, but they don't seem to do the really narrow 8-10mm stuff, and it's designed for conduit and hence not really strong enough. However, it struck me I could get some from a car part shop in town, as it's used for fixing car number plates into position. They didn't have 10mm tape, but did have 12mm, which would suffice and, naturally I was impatient, so I bought it for a fiver.

Voila! Sorted! Daytime view.

And night time view. Plenty of light from all directions. I'm well pleased.

Total cost £10.84 - £7.85 for the LED strip and £2.99 for the tape off eBay, although I can add £5 for the additional roll of tape (totally unnecessary) I bought at the car parts shop. The water pipe was free, as we had plenty left over from the house build. I've no idea how much a couple of metres of water pipe would cost, but I can't see it being more than a fiver, if that.

Friday 27 January 2023


Apropos of yesterday's post on electric tanks, during the electricity price crisis, and as I've written before, we've had our underfloor heating switched off and are using our 12.3kW log burner to heat the house (a wise investment).

However, to heat the domestic hot water we've had to keep part of the system on, and that relies on the air-source heat pump to operate.

Now, while the cost of using the air-source to heat domestic hot water is a negligible extra when the underfloor heating is on (and free when the solar panels are generating lots of electricity during the day when sunny, but not at night), it's a relatively high cost when everything else is switched off - around 16kWh per day, just for 24x7 hot water, which we don't use 24x7.

What's needed is more of an on-demand system for the domestic hot water - some form of geyser system. This will become more important once we lose the feed-in tariff in 16 or so years time. Electric showers may also be more economic to run when there's no underfloor heating operating.

The electricity crisis has really focussed our minds on how to run the house more cost-effectively. Having oodles of free, solar energy has made us rather complacent.

Below is an analysis of the cost of running the house on electricity over the last year (click to enlarge).

You can see the huge down-spike (down is greater cost) over this Christmas when we put the underfloor heating on and had No.2 Son staying. There are other spikes, but that's due to one of our rented cabins, which is connected to our system and only has electric heating. It's inhabited by a business for around 2 or 3 days a week and puts a huge drain on our supply.

You can also see, in the last week, where I have switched the air-source heat pump off, resulting in no domestic hot water (it's far more efficient to use either a kettle for a bowl of hot water, or leave a pan of hot water on top of the log fire). This has returned us to summer consumption levels, obviously, but we are spending a couple of hundred quid a month on logs. That said, the feed-in rebate pays for those.

It demonstrates the inefficiency of an air-source heat pump when used solely for domestic hot water, it being far more efficient to use an on-demand system for the few times during the day that hot water is actually needed. Use it in combination with a standard home heating system and it's not too bad.

We should have installed a back boiler to the log burner when we built the house, but we never envisaged the electricity price crisis. At least we can heat the vast majority of the house (except one room) with the one log burner - and very effectively too.

Our annualised electricity consumption continues to nosedive spectacularly, specifically due to our efforts this winter, as you can see from the chart below (again, click to enlarge).

We're down to 7,000 kWh per annum from an average of 14,500 kWh and a very profligate peak of 17,500 kWh.

I've been invited to sign up for the Peak Usage scheme by British Gas (our electricity supplier), whereby if you use less electricity between 5 and 6pm than you used just before that time, you get a payment. You're emailed on the days the scheme applies. However, given we're using only 6kWh a day at present, due to having all forms of electrical heating off, it's doubtful we'll actually receive any payment.

Given the hour the Peak Usage scheme operates, it's doubtful if anyone can get a payment, as few people are home before 6pm anyway. That hour, nevertheless is when peak demand happens, possibly because 5pm is precisely when timed heating systems are timed to crank up into operation in preparation for when people get home at 6 - although the majority of those heating systems will be gas and not electric. I guess you could time it to come on at 4, go off again at 5 (when the house will at least be partially heated) and then come on again at 6, which achieves the overall aim of flattening the 5-6pm peak. 

Flatten the curve is a mantra we should be well acquainted with now.

Thursday 26 January 2023

Electric Battle Tanks

What with all the furore over Germany supplying Leopard tanks to Ukraine, I wondered whether anyone had developed an electric tank and, yes, they're on the drawing board.

Above is the Abrahams X, a hybrid, but all-electric tanks are possible and under development.

The major advantage of an electric tank is that there's no heat signature, making it invisible to heat-seeking weapons.

Wednesday 25 January 2023

Cary Arms Hotel

As I said yesterday, today's post is about the Cary Arms Hotel in Babbacombe, where we went for Hay's birthday.

We stayed in a rather swish beach hut, one of 6 that the hotel owners (the de Savary family) have built in the grounds.

The view from the beach huts is phenomenal, as you can see.

The beach hut is split-level with the bedroom on a mezzanine. The design is so simple and yet absolutely brilliant. I have to build one of these myself.

The Dimplex, fake log fire is quite effective (the place has underfloor heating) and even has a crackling fire soundtrack of which you can control the volume. The waterfall tap in the bathroom is a bit gimmicky, but still nice.

One thing that surprised me was the restaurant prices, which were very reasonable, given the manner in which restaurants have increased their prices in response to inflation. You wouldn't have known there was a cost of living crisis. Total cost for bed, breakfast and dinner, was £100 per night each, which I thought very reasonable for the quality offered and the location.

It's a bugger of an up-hill walk to the town, especially if you have COPD and your knees are starting to go squonk, but the hotel does provide a minibus that can take you up the hill on request. 

We will definitely be returning, but with the kayaks, and in warmer weather, although the weather didn't bother Hay, as she had 2 cold water swims (as is her wont) in the sea, although it was a balmy 8 degrees - far warmer than our pond at home, where she normally has 2 or 3 dips a week.

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Bus Pass & Workbench Light

Had two occasions to use my Diamond Travel Card when we were away over the weekend (my knees weren't up to walking back to Babbacombe from Cockington) and wondered whether it was possible to load it into my Google Wallet, so I didn't have to carry it around with me, but it would appear that this is not possible. That is, unless someone else has found out how to do it. It would certainly be useful.

To get to Cockington we had to walk through Torquay. It's advertised as the English Riviera. I can think of many places I've visited in England that would deserve that appellation, but Torquay ain't one of them.

Cockington Country Park, however, is a quaint village with a large, country house, just outside Torquay, being locked in a thatched time-warp.

The Big House hosts a number of craft studios. One of these studios is a glassblowing operation, but they've had to shut off their furnace as the cost for gas has risen from £2k a month to £16k.

Another studio hosts a bloke who makes very nice lights. I nicked an idea from him for my new workshop - how to make a workbench light using LED strip and a length of water pipe. Surprisingly, he doesn't make these for sale, but he should. It's a brilliant idea.

The bent water pipe allows the light to be spread from all angles in to your workspace.

I've found some more robust mains water pipe and have drilled the holes in my workbench to take the ends. I'm now waiting for a 2m length of LED strip from eBay (£7.48) that I can stick to the underside of the pipe - no need to slit the pipe open, as blokey did, as it weakens it.

I can use a heat gun to make slight adjustments to the fore and aft angle.

The problem crafty people (for want of a better word) have is that they had a bonanza before the financial crisis, as people had become used to not going out for meals and thereby had money to spare; however, craft products have a high price and now, with the cost-of-living crisis, disposable income has been decimated, and these people are feeling the pinch.

Tomorrow I'll do a post on the hotel we stayed at - in a beach hut.

Monday 23 January 2023

Harry's Book (Again)

Finally finished Harry's new book, Spare, and a very good read it is too. His ghost writer is excellent and I can see why he was chosen. 

I started writing this analysis on the basis of he said, she said but, under the bonnet, there's so much more going on that's not immediately visible by merely reading the narrative.

The gutter press was incandescent that Harry had barred it from the intimacies of his wedding in St George's Chapel. The Family has a name for these 'Royal commentators', which escapes me at present, but while they were allowed to see everything going on outside after the wedding ceremony, they couldn't mix with the nobs within the Chapel. These so-called experts are no more expert on the Royal Family than I am an expert in nuclear physics from simply looking at the sun.

Harry had multiple issues with this gaggle of gossip-mongers, dating back to his mother's death, which traumatised him; it was that the paparazzi who were chasing his mother on the eve of her death did nothing to help her and simply kept clicking away as she died. Yes, they were self-employed paparazzi, but their paymasters are the gutter press, who can hand them £100k for the right photo. Not only that, but the press had outed Harry when in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite promises to keep a lid on it until the end of his tour. General Dannatt was livid about this broken promise.

Is the press racist? Probably not when they're with their middleclass friends at dinner parties, but they know how to weaponize the racists among their readership to generate clicks and sales from a constituency decent media organisations would steer well clear of.

There additionally happens to be a group of courtiers who, for reasons best known to themselves, believe it's their responsibility to protect the monarch, and no-one else's. They take it upon themselves to act without even asking the monarch or any of the Royal Family - they're a very powerful, controlling cabal of eminences grises, According to Harry, the links between these courtiers and the press are what drives the Royal agenda, and it's an unhealthy relationship, as Harry has discovered.

Harry, among others, has an impending law suit against certain media organisations and these organisations wish to cast as much dirt in front of Harry as possible before the case comes to court. Their tactic is to minutely dissect his memoirs, looking for any discrepancy, no matter how small. This is the old lawyer's trick of focusing on a trivial, but minor detail, pointing out it's inaccuracy and then portraying the entire testimony as worthless on that basis. The fallacy of the thin end of the wedge.

I have a habit of delving into the turdscape of the Express and Daily Mail when a suitable story happens to cross my path in the news aggregator I use - FlipBoard. One of my recent excursions into the mind of an Express reader (if you can call it that) resulted in a battle with an idiot in the comments section over Harry's book and some of this minutiae.

It was obvious that my adversary had never read the book, nor the context surrounding the Taliban controversy (not that it's a controversy if you read Harry's words). He maintained he'd read the Taliban comments in context, but was singularly unable to precis that context and resolutely refused to even look the context up. Manna from heaven for the gutter press and an another unwitting halfwit to add to its army.

Between October 2001 and August 30, 2021 there were 454 British military and civilian deaths in Afghanistan. I am certain the Taliban carefully considered the families of each of those they killed and did not treat them as chess pieces, especially when they used indiscriminate suicide bombs or maimed children in order to use them to get near to British forces.

My opponent then went into the intricacies of the difference between an Xbox and a PlayStation, as if the veracity of the entire book can be predicated on exactly which game console Harry received for his 13th birthday (Harry thought it was an Xbox, but the XBox hadn't been released when he was 13).

Here are Harry's words:

Birthdays were always a huge deal at Ludgrove, because every boy, and most teachers, had a ravenous sweet tooth. There was often a violent struggle for the seat next to the birthday boy: that’s where you'd be assured of the first and biggest slice. I don’t remember who managed to win the seat beside me.

"Make a wish, Harry!" 

You want a wish? All right, I wish my mother was... 

Then, out of nowhere - Aunt Sarah? Holding a box. 

"Open it, Harry." 

I tore at the wrapping paper, the ribbon. I peered inside. What...? 

"Mummy bought it for you. Shortly before . . . 

"You mean in Paris?"  

"Yes. Paris."

It was an Xbox. I was pleased. I loved video games. That’s the story, anyway. It’s appeared in many accounts of my life, as gospel, and I have no idea if it’s true.

Note the disclaimer at the end.

Then there was whether Harry was at Eton or Klosters when the Queen Mum died. Harry believed he was at Eton, whereas he, William and Charles were all on holiday at Klosters. Now before calling Harry a liar, it has to be remembered that there were two Royal deaths in 2002 - Princess Margaret on the 9th Feb and the Queen Mum shortly afterwards on the 30th March. On the 9th Feb, Harry would have been at Eton and it's not inconceivable he confused the two events. Why would be intentionally lie about that, as many have accused him? What is there to gain?

Regarding Harry claiming Henry VI, the founder of Eton, was his ancestor (Henry VI had one child who died childless aged 17 at the Battle of Tewkesbury)? So Harry is not very good at history and probably thinks his line goes back to Alfred the Great. He admits in the book that he was no scholar, which is why he declined university in favour of the Army. One Eton teacher even gave him a ruler with images of all the English monarchs on it (a ruler ruler, so to speak).

I was told that I simply didn't like the opinions of the bloke I was arguing with, to which I responded that it was not his opinion, but the opinion of the gutter press, which has a history of manipulating people like him. 

Ever since 2016, when someone at Kensington Palace (the eminences grises) leaked the liaison between Harry and Meghan, the tabloids and the Conservative newspapers have waged a relentless war of attrition against her. Why is that very difficult to understand? The lies they printed are well documented. Even his previous girlfriends were scared off by the gutter press. 

Harry was not permitted to bring a legal case against the media, despite various members (including Charles) having brought successful cases in the past. The fact Prince Andrew is now claiming he was bounced into not fighting the Giuffre case, to avoid embarrassing the monarchy, appears to add weight to Harry's claim. Harry maintains that because he has now dropped so far in the line of succession, he can no longer rely of the Palace legal machine to support him, nor avail himself of Royal security.

It is strange that the most hate toward Harry and Meghan comes from those who have not read the book and steadfastly refuse to do so, getting their opinions through the skewed prism of the gutter press, which has an agenda. Actually, it's not strange at all - it's sad and predictable. We should have learned this from Brexit (the negative press and TV commentators seem to be the same ones that extoll Brexit, the virtues of our current government and that stoke up the Culture War).

The male haters all seem to have an obsession with the flag, but not in an healthy way. They claim to be Royalists, but would not hesitate to attack Charles whenever he ventures into climate change or anything Green.

Much is being made of Harry saying Camilla was dangerous. What's carefully left out of this is that William felt exactly the same and they had talked about Camilla extensively, but that was early on in their public relationship. The boys were in no doubt though that Camilla was laser focussed on rehabilitating herself in the eyes of the public, who saw her as 'the other woman'. By and large it has worked, but not without the support of the gutter press and Palace flunkies.

At most, Harry can be accused of not checking certain dates or facts as he saw them, which shows poor proof reading. He comes across as totally human and determined to rebel against the never complain, never explain mantra, which lets the gutter press call the shots where the Royal Family is concerned. “To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men."

He's certainly got a battle on his hands and is relishing it - the press is annoyed that it can't control him and, since the revelations in the book, have nothing on him with which to blackmail him. 

That said, he wishes he'd known Princess Margaret better, given that she, as the Spare, ran the same gauntlet as him in so many ways, and resented it.

As for Clarkson (a superannuated juvenile chasing a juvenile audience); if he dreams of seeing the Duchess of Sussex paraded naked through the streets, pelted with excrement, doesn't that make him, using the same Game of Thrones analogy, the bigoted and hypocritical High Sparrow? Taken in isolation this may seem innocuous to some, but when combined with the verified death threats Meghan has received, it's tantamount to incitement. Would the advocates of Free Speech try to persuade us that death threats against them are nothing more than a manifestation of Free Speech? No, they'd call it Hate Speech and demand action.

It's rather funny watching the Anti-Cancel Culture, Anti-Woke warriors climbing the Cancel Culture tractor in support of Clarkson by cancelling Amazon in protest. The hypocrites!

Meghan bullying Palace staff? That seems totally out of character with reports from people who have worked with her or known her from all walks of life. There seems to be a narrative that the machine which surrounds the Royal Family want to promulgate, despite the contrary evidence. Whether this is with, or without Royal Family knowledge is moot, but the impression is that the Royal Family is aware of it but can't (or won't) do anything about it.

Not once did Harry attack the Royal Family, except to express exasperation at its supine attitude to the tabloids and the manner in which the Palace machine, comprised of courtiers, continually sought to undermine him. His attacks are focussed on the press and his fervent desire is to free the Royal Family from its stranglehold. 

Are there errors? Almost certainly - It's a memoirs and memories are notoriously fickle. Is it mainly truthful? Given the despicable history of the British press and the lies it peddles, almost certainly. Is it worth reading? Definitely, I highly recommend it.

I was tempted to get the audiobook, where Harry does the narration, so I could listen in the car. I did hear he wasn't the first choice....

Sunday 22 January 2023

A Couple of Overheards

Overheard 1:

We'd been watching channel 57 (TruTV) which shows 60s videos and music. Elvis Presley had just been on.

Hay: "Elvis' manager was Dutch, despite having an English name. His real name was Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk"

Chairman: "Colonel Sanders wasn't Dutch!"

"Hay: "It was Colonel Tom Parker, not the Kentucky Fried Chicken blokes."

Chairman: "Oh, of course, it was a slip of the tongue. I knew it wasn't Berne Sanders."

Overheard 2:

We'd just bought a portion of chips to share on our way back to our hotel in Babbacombe.

Chairman: "The South Americans had the potato for thousands of years and yet never invented the chip. Europeans did that, although the Belgians and the French argue as to which nation was the inventor."

Hay: "So how did the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans cook their potatoes before Europeans took them to Europe?"

Chairman: "Dauphinoise, I presume, or tartiflette." 

Saturday 21 January 2023

Political Games

Rishi not wearing a seatbelt. Not really concerned - we've all been there. A misdemeanour that's nowhere near the scale of Kier Starmer being photographed by an illegal trespasser not breaking the law during lockdown.

Nadhim Zahawi mucking about with his taxes - the self-employed can be just bas creative with their tax returns, but nowhere near the scale Zahawi can. There again, if he uses the excuse that he's used legal means, he's part of a government that voted for these legal means that allow rich people to get away with using legal loopholes. Much worse than Rishi's faux pas and, I'm sure, much more will come to light.

30p Lee Anderson using a staffer to substantiate the claim that nurses don't need to use foodbanks? Reprehensible. He's on record for setting up fake doorstep campaigns with his mates.

This staffer has been thrown to the wolves by Anderson and it has been revealed that she went to an expensive, independent school, has a general for a father and a charity boss as a mother, is single and on the way up - not weighed down financially by kids (or single parenthood) and living on a wage that's unlikely to increase by much. She can probably borrow quite easily on the basis of her parents. 

Given researchers are usually on the bottom rung of a political ladder and en route to becoming an MP, Anderson has probably ruined her chances.

Anderson has a bit of a reputation as a bully, so was she a willing participant, or was she simple afraid not to say no?

Anderson is a disgusting human being and, therefore, tops my list of the aforementioned thee.

Friday 20 January 2023

The Classics

I was talking with someone about electric vehicles and we reached the conclusion that, what with the potential for hydrogen powered cars, which use hydrogen to produce electricity to drive an electric motor, manufacturers would be best served making bodyshells and running gear that is suitable to both EV and hydrogen fuel cells, thereby eliminating having to design a totally new vehicle.

Anyway, the subject moved on to classic cars. Now there are classic cars and classic cars. What I mean by this is that some older cars undergo a wave of popularity for the simple reason of nostalgia - those who love them because they drove them in their teens and 20s. Once that generation dies out, these cars are no longer true classics and they plummet in price.

True classics are artworks and deserve the accolade because of beautiful design and include the E-Type, the Aston Martin DB4, the Mercedes Gull Wing (above), the Citroen DS21 Convertible I wrote about last week. They were invariably very expensive to start with, fell in price as they became older and more costly to repair, only to undergo a resurgence because they were simply irresistible and gorgeous - the da Vincis and Michelangelos of the automotive world.

Cars from the 70s and 80s are currently in vogue as classics - the Cortina, the Capri, the RS2000, The Golf GTi, etc. However, once my generation kicks the bucket, I can't see my kids wanting to go anywhere near them and they'll be the junk they were when they first came out.

MGBs, for example, were popular classics for a long time and the price went up to around £10k for a looker. Now, however, you can get an extremely good condition MGB for under £5k.

Thursday 19 January 2023

Doctor, Doctor

The title of doctor has a long tradition and is conferred on someone who has studied for and been awarded a PhD and is a scholar; however, medical practitioners are also called doctors, despite only having a BSc.

Consultants drop the Dr and become plain Mr, which is a bit of an anomaly, yet the title Mr is much sought after in medical circles.

Using the term Dr for a medical practitioner began in the 17th century, prior to which they were physicians, barber surgeons and sometimes apothecaries.

Hay has a PhD in biochemistry and is a doctor, but not a medical practitioner in the conventional sense, although she constantly diagnoses me from a biochemical perspective and has a far greater knowledge of the biochemistry of the human than the vast majority of medical doctors.

We have a friend who did his PhD with Hay and then decided to follow this up with a medical degree - we call him Dr Dr.

Wednesday 18 January 2023

Political Takeover

The Labour Party has some 400k plus voting members, while the Tory Party has under 200k. Yes, those 200k Tory members fund their party with a lot more than the 400k Labour members put into Labour, but that's because there are more Tory millionaires than Labour millionaires. The more someone earns, the greater the likelihood they would support lower taxes, which is a cornerstone of Tory policy.

However, if the 400k Labour members signed up as Tory Party members, they could convert the Tory Party beyond all recognition. Tories cannot do such a takeover on the Labour Party as there simply aren't enough of them.

It would be like the attempt the Tufton Street funded 'Restore Trust' movement made to control the National Trust as part of the right wing Culture War. Restore Trust failed, however, as they simply didn't have the numbers to overwhelm the National Trust and, in fact, swelled genuine NT membership as a consequence. Restore Trust recently lost a legal case against The Good Law Project and had to reveal its links to climate denialism and the fiscally irresponsible Institute of Economic Affairs.

Tuesday 17 January 2023

Minority Report

I see the government is now planning to stop people protesting on the basis of protests POSSIBLY turning disruptive. We're turning into an elective dictatorship, for God's sake.

Since when have the police been able to arrest someone on the basis of what they may do? Yes, you can be arrested on suspicion, but there has to be evidence in order to secure a conviction. There can be no evidence of a protest becoming disruptive before it actually becomes disruptive. 

Can't see this gaining any traction, unless it's not referred to Parliament (like the intention is on rescinding EU legislation); even then, there would be a myriad legal challenges based on precedent.

The other week the police arrested a journalist for merely watching and reporting on a protest, so the claim the police need new powers is facile. Kier Starmer, a former DPP, agrees.

Banning strikes, banning protests, making it more difficult to vote - it's all geared to eliminating any possibility of criticism of this government. It's the rhetoric of despotic dictatorships. It's the rhetoric of Putin. 

Those supporting this strategy need to be careful - this is from Pastor Martin NIEMÖLLER:

First they came for the Communists 

And I did not speak out 

Because I was not a Communist 

Then they came for the Socialists 

And I did not speak out 

Because I was not a Socialist 

Then they came for the trade unionists 

And I did not speak out 

Because I was not a trade unionist 

Then they came for the Jews 

And I did not speak out 

Because I was not a Jew 

Then they came for me 

And there was no one left 

To speak out for me

Is the government determined to make itself totally unelectable, as that appears to be the strategy? How I long for the days when we were governed by grownups and actually voted for grownups.

Monday 16 January 2023

State vs Private

I keep hearing the same old arguments about private health and private schooling:

Firstly that someone availing themselves of private health frees up appointments for someone using state health. 

This is not the case, as there is no such thing as a doctor who exclusively works in the private health sector; they're all NHS trained, NHS doctors who do private health work on the side. The time they spend enabling someone to jump the queue within the private sector means longer waiting lists in the NHS. Yes, someone is being taken out of the NHS waiting list, but at the tail end and not the front - those at the front will have to wait longer. Even at the tail of the list, there will be no difference from the position the private patient would have been in the NHS list.

Secondly, that applying VAT on private school fees will result in private schools closing down, putting an additional burden on the state sector.

Why would they close down? If any could not survive with VAT applied to their fees (and that would be only a small number), they could be taken over by the LEA and would simply become state schools, receiving more pupils from the overburdened state system. It's not as if the teachers would resign en masse and become unemployable. Shareholders would have to be compensated of course but, as charities (currently), they are not-for-profit, so any recompense would consist of only the fabric of the school. 

I don't buy the argument that it would result in a tax on aspiration. If that were the case, it could be made on any vatable aspirational purchase. Having fewer foreign holidays to be able to send your kid to public school is not a sacrifice, it's a lifestyle choice; not eating a meal in order that your kids can is a sacrifice.

Sunday 15 January 2023

Porsche 198 Spyder

Yay! Harry's book has arrived and I shall be digging into it ASAP.

The other day I had occasion to go to Reigate to collect a car. On the way, on the M25, I passed the car shown in the photos below. Didn't have a clue what it was until I saw the Porsche logo, and even then I had to look it up.

It's a Porsche 918 Spyder, of which just under a thousand were made in a production run that finished in 2015.

It's actually a hybrid and on electric power it has a range of 12 miles. Hardly seems worth it - that's just about enough to manoeuvre it in your garage.

You can buy one for around £600k, despite them being over 8 years old now. Can't be very fast, as I overtook it in a Mercedes van.

Saturday 14 January 2023

London Crime

A quick overheard:

Chairman: "Fancy watching some more Netflix Bodies? I just want to see that bastard Roger hung out to dry."

Hay: "Ah, yes, but I can't help feeling I've seen too much of Max Beasley's bum going up and down on some poor woman."

A quick aside - my copy of Harry's book never arrived from Amazon. I received an email saying they couldn't deliver it and my payment would be refunded. Can't understand why, unless they'd run out; however, Hay ordered another copy on her account and that should arrive today. Perhaps my copy is languishing on that Air NZ flight from Mexico to London.

Back to the subject. 

It would seem that anyone is to blame when crime rises, but when it falls, as homicides and knife crime has in London, it's open season on who wants to claim responsibility, and it's invariably the government.

I was listening to LBC yesterday morning where callers were commenting on Sadiq Khan's comments on Brexit. The overriding theme was that he should concentrate on knife crime rather than Brexit, but when the figures are inspected it transpires that nine homicides were gun enabled in 2022, which was a 25% fall and the lowest figure since 2014. A total of 69 homicides were knife enabled, which was a 17% reduction and equal to the pre-pandemic figure for 2019.

Who will claim the kudos? The government can't blame the Mayor of London when knife crime rises and then take the credit when it goes down, but I bet they will.

Friday 13 January 2023

Public Services

Should MPs, and especially ministers, be made to use the public services they're responsible for? 

They may understand the issues, but without skin in the game they can't possibly feel the impact of their decisions when they send their kids to private schools or avail themselves of private healthcare. The urgency is missing when you're alright, Jack.

While many prisons are run by private services, I'm surprised there is no luxury prison service for the wealthy to avail themselves of. However, which prison you go to isn't a matter of choice. Perhaps, one day, it will be.

That said, there is a number of prisons around the globe where conditions are markedly better than your average clink.

My copy of Harry's book should arrive today. Who would have thought that the gutter press vociferously maligning it would result in such publicity that it becomes a block-buster? Bit of an own goal for the hacks who take comments out of context in a vain attempt to destroy him. The fees should enormously swell Harry's war chest for his imminent legal case against the gutter press. 

Thursday 12 January 2023

Looted Art

 Are the Elgin (Parthenon) Marbles looted art?

The Ottomans had invaded Greece following the fall of Constantinople and sold the marbles to Lord Elgin, who removed half of them between 1801 and 1812. Is that any different to the Nazis invading France and selling any art they looted? I can't, for the life of me, see any difference, nor did Lord Byron at the time, not that Byron was aware of the Nazis. No-one would dispute that looted Nazi art should be returned to its rightful owner, so why not the Elgin Marbles?

On top of that, the Parthenon, a magnificent work of classical art, is not complete without the original marbles.

Wednesday 11 January 2023


Time was when protest marches were quite frequent, but no longer. This made me wonder what had changed - are the issues that make us march in protest fewer, or has something blunted our desire to march as part of a mass movement? 

It's not as if there aren't rather a lot of things to protest about, but not a single protest march. Even strike picket lines are tiny affairs.

Yes, there are small protests, such as those on motorways against pollution, but not mass protests, although the Stop The War protest in 2003 was the largest ever UK protest, closely followed by 3 2nd EU Referendum marches in 2018 and 2019.

I've reached the conclusion that the protest march has been replaced by shouting on social media and believing that is enough.

What do you think?

As for the government legislating for a minimum service during NHS strikes, a minimum service level isn't achievable even without strikes, let alone with strikes. In effect, the government is banning strikes. If that isn't worth protesting against, I don't know what is. They seem determined to ensure they become unelectable at the next GE.

Tuesday 10 January 2023

DS 21 Convertible

I recently became aware, and I can't remember how, of the Citroen DS 21 Convertible, arguably one of the most beautiful cars ever made.

However, I was horrified about the price these cars can fetch - anywhere from £90k to £200k. They were manufactured between 1958 and 1973, being expensive when first sold as there were only 1,365 ever made.

The entire DS range had several innovations that weren't copied by other manufacturers till many years later - if at all. Back to the Future II had a futuristic taxi which was based on a DS saloon.

Matthewson's, the classic car auction house in Thornton-le-Dale that's the subject of the TV programme Bangers and Cash, have a DS21 saloon in their upcoming auction on the 3rd and 4th February.

The saloon versions aren't that rare, but I'd give my eye teeth (or, rather, the one that's left) for a DS 21 Convertible.

Monday 9 January 2023


Dave, the stag's head that used to adorn the oak beams in our kitchen, is now resplendent on the new garage.

Progress has started again, although Colin's hand has not yet regained its full use.

Sunday 8 January 2023

Harry's Book II

Much is being made by the gutter press of Harry having killed 25 Taliban, as if this was new information, and are calling it wreckless.

What the gutter press is unaware of is that this was widely known in 2013 but, given it was pre-Meghan and the orchestrated campaign against her, it was all tickety boo and reported, even in the publication of public record, The Times, So, the risk is no greater to him than it was then.

Far from bragging about his kill tally, Harry said he was not proud of the fact, nor embarassed; however, he's being attacked for bragging about it. Only the gutter press could interpret a couple of sentences in this manner. 

The fact snipers are proud of their kill rate and Special Forces had competitions as to who could kill the most Taliban does not exonerate Harry in the eyes of the haters, despite his words.

Yesterday I said the gutter press were doing a sterling job at publicising Harry's book. What struck me since is that they're actually helping him swell his war chest for his impending legal case against the Mail on Sunday. A perfect jujitsu move.

Saturday 7 January 2023

Harry's Book

Haven't read it, but probably will when it comes out in the UK, as I'd like to read his actual words, rather than the manner in which the gutter press is guaranteed to twist it.

Some are taking issue with Harry's claim to have killed 25 Taliban in Afghanistan, maintaining he had put his fellow combatants at risk by his revelation - what the hell do people think the Army was doing in Afghanistan - having a jolly in the sun? 

There are myriad military memoirs by ex combatants - did they also put their Army chums in peril? Andy McNabb, among others, made a bloody fortune from his SAS exploits, and how the hell did WWI and WWII Aces know they were Aces if they didn't keep a very 'unprofessional' tally? Snipers are supremely confident of their tallies and their reputations depend on them. Here's a story about British troops having kill count competitions in Afghanistan.

Yes, Harry has possibly marginally increased the risk for himself and his immediate family, but not every bugger who fought in Afghanistan. To suggest this is so is utterly ludicrous and grasping at straws in order to justify an attack him.

I spotted a Twitter commentator saying Harry had breached the Geneva Convention. When someone asked what clause, he couldn't answer - the Geneva Convention doesn't prevent combatants killing each other in a battle scenario, if it did, war would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. The arguer then maintained, without a shred of evidence, that there must have been civilians among the dead Taliban.

Objections were made by others concerning Harry being taught to dehumanise those he was sent to kill, not realising that if you're worrying about your enemy's wife and kids, you're not going to make a very good soldier and are likely to get a Taliban bullet in the head first. You must surely take your brain out and imagine your shooting ducks at a shooting gallery in order to cope with it. 

And strategy IS a game of chess. Chess, like war, is the purposeful attempt to gain an advantage over your opponent, regardless of what the Taliban may say in press releases - those buggers don't even allow women to be educated and kill people at the drop of a hat, so their pronouncements are utterly valueless and I don't know why anyone even reports their opinions.

"But we've only heard one side of the story," was another retort. Could you imagine a therapist saying that to a patient and wanting to talk to the abuser? There's nothing stopping the story from 'the other side', except it would be filtered through the PR machine that surrounds the Royal Family, which seems to have a will of its own and over which they have little or no control.

What Harry has done is bared his soul and thus cut out the gutter press middlemen, who are incandescent with rage that they are out of the loop and can't reinterpret his words, although they're busy doing just that with excerpts obviously taken out of context (when you hear the context from more reputable media organisations). One newspaper, if you can call it that, said; "Spare us this," and then went on to publish a 17 page spread on Harry, not sparing a single detail. Such utter hypocrisy!

When all is said and done, the gutter press is doing a sterling job of publicising Harry's book and making him a fortune - they're doing the very thing they don't actually want to, because they can't help themselves - it sells papers.

Friday 6 January 2023

Enjoy the Papacy


Haven't done an Overheard for a while; must get back into the habit.

Chairman: "Apparently there's going to be a comet blazing across the January skies that was last seen by the Neanderthals."

Hay: "You must remember it then."

The funeral of Pope Ratzinger has reminded me that we seem to have had a string of rather dour Popes who do little except run the Catholic Church in a predictable and monotonous manner.

Whatever happened to the days when Popes would really enjoy the Papacy and use it as their personal fiefdom, holding parties, orgies and spending lavishly? Some were even warlords, rampaging all over Italy to create a Papal State. 

Invariably the Cardinals and Archbishops were the Spare for some noble family and used the Church as a means of amassing a fortune outside of the direct line of inheritance to the family Dukedom.

It used to be that a Pope obtained the position through massive acts of bribery, such as Alexander VI, or Rodrigo de Borgia, as he was also known. Nepotism used to be rife in the Renaissance, with various Popes making their illegitimate children Cardinals.

Anti-Pope John XXIII (aka Baldassare Cossa, one of three simultaneous Popes) was sponsored by the Medici family, having been a pirate before becoming a Cardinal. He was ordained as a priest on the 24th May 1410 and elected Pope on the 25th. A very colourful character. The Medici were rewarded by being appointed the Vatican's bankers, which was a very lucrative appointment indeed.