Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


I welcome your comments, so do please write. Please note however that all comments are moderated prior to publication. Whilst I fully appreciate that life can be frustrating, nevertheless, abuse, SMS language and illiteracy will not be tolerated!

Monday 28 January 2013

The World Turned Upside-Down

About fifty years ago a pop-singer and guitarist, Joe Brown, enjoyed a minor success with a song that went (as I remember) something like this:

"Father's down the dog-track,
Mother's playing bingo,
Grandpa's swearing at the telly,
You should hear the lingo;
No-one seems to notice me,
Isn't it a sin?
What a crazy world we're living in."

Well Joe, I think it's a lot crazier now - this view prompted by the coverage on the BBC of the attempted robbery of a Ladbroke's betting shop by a fifty-year old habitual criminal who at the time of the attempt was wearing a gas-mask of second world war vintage and brandishing a pistol.  The would-be robber was tackled by some very brave customers and whilst under restraint, died.

In its earlier reports the BBC referred to a "tragedy"!!!  What tragedy please?  The death in flagrante so to speak, of a would-be armed robber is NOT a tragedy - it is never a tragedy.  Meanwhile in the article, the BBC informs us that the robber's family have said that there will be "no revenge" over the death; nice of them.

Bloody cheek.

The Late Alan Levers - Robber
Picture: BBC
It just remains for me to add the observation that it would have been a "tragedy" had the above person turned up not wearing his gas-mask...

Until the next time

Saturday 26 January 2013

And now it's the Conservatives' Turn!

My previous post concerned a slip of the tongue by a Liberal-Democrat MP; this one concerns communicative incompetence by the Prime Minister.

Referring to what I suppose might be called a certain reluctance on the part of various multi-national companies and corporations to pay tax (quelle surprise) Mr Cameron announced at the World Economic Forum at Davos that they "must wake up and smell the coffee."

The giant multi-national that sells coffee-flavoured drinks, Starbuck's, has displayed a distressing degree of hyper-sensitivity to this comment, assuming that it was a "dig" at their organisation and in consequence has threatened to withhold a substantial investment (i.e. more look-alike near-coffee shops) in Britain.

I don't think that the P.M. intended to make a 'dig' at Starbuck's, though I suppose "wake up and smell the search engine" wouldn't work very well; no, I think he was being or rather trying to be, irritatingly 'modern' as perhaps he thought.  Horrible - and he was at Eton - the school that I wish I had attended!
However, given my recent experience at Starbuck's I am not inclined to be sympathetic to  managing director Mr Engskov's cries of anguish about what is simply a nasty piece of American business jargon.

But in future Mr Cameron might be better advised to say for example "In future, Her Majesty's Government intends to examine very closely the elaborate tax-avoidance schemes being practised by a number of multi-national business organisations."

There you are, Prime Minister, why not "Put it on the 5:15 and see if it gets off at Westchester" or perhaps a little more appositely, "Put it in your percolator and see if it comes out brown."

Until the next time.


27th January: The BBC reports that Starbuck's rejects suggestions that the company had reacted to the "smell the coffee" comment and that Friday's meeting with the PM had been scheduled for some time.  Perhaps the Sunday Telegraph allowed itself to get a little over-excited, though given the alleged proclivities of the Telegraph's proprietors I should have thought that the subject of tax avoidance was one to keep quiet about.  A storm in a (near) coffee-cup then perhaps?

Poor Old Liberals

One has to feel a little for the Liberal Democrat party; led by a non-entity, and languishing in the polls a long way behind UKIP, the party now faces another public-relations problem.

A Liberal Democrat MP, Mr David Ward has got himself into hot water: he is reported to have accused "the Jews" of  "inflicting atrocities on Palestinians... on a daily basis."

Tut tut Mr Ward, you should have accused the Israelis not "the Jews" - as a "Lib-Dem," political correctness should be embedded in your DNA.

Mr Ward MP is of course entirely correct - I have often referred to Israeli excesses here; it was just a matter of terminology, though it is quite possible that the Israelis - at least many of them - consider themselves undeserving of any criticism.

Until the next time

Thursday 24 January 2013


An Irishwoman named Dolours Price has died.

"Dolours" is a bloody good name for this terrible woman, who was convicted of involvement in the  IRA Old Bailey bombing in which 200 people were injured.

And this person has admitted driving mother-of-ten Jean McConville on her way to be murdered, again by the IRA.  She also alleges that Gerry Adams, the sanctimonious leader of Sinn Fein was her 'commander,' a claim which Adams denies. Adams said that Price was 'not well.'  For the first time in my life I find myself in agreement with him.

What a  credit to the human race she was.

Unbelievably - to me at least - she was released from prison "on compassionate grounds."  "Compassionate grounds" - you know, like the the bloke who on Gadaffi's orders blew up the aircraft over Lockerbie and lived for another three years or so after his release.
I am now waiting for similar good news in connexion with the likes of Abu Qatada etc.

Until the next time 

Tuesday 22 January 2013


As has been widely reported, the French have responded to the request for help from the Malian government in regard to the insurgency of Al Quaeda terrorists in Mali.

The situation is the subject of a United Nations resolution, and in consequence of this, the French are receiving assistance with logistics from the UK, the USA, Canada, Belgium, Denmark and Italy.  Additionally, troops from a number of Mali's neighbours, numbering in the region of 5000 are to help in repelling the terrorist insurgents.

I note that as usual, no help is apparently coming from those other permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and China.  I wonder why?  Surely they do not support these incursions?  Certainly the Russians and Chinese are fairly robust when Islamic extremism appears in their bailiwicks... Are they afraid of upsetting some of their African client states I wonder.

Until the next time.

Prince Harry and the Taliban

Prince Harry has today been reported as making some rather unprofessional remarks concerning his time in Afghanistan as a co-pilot/gunner in an Apache helicopter.

Accordingly the Taliban, via an anonymous spokesman has described the prince as 'cowardly.'

The same un-cowardly Taliban who demonstrated their courage and bravery in shooting 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai for campaigning for education for girls?  Oh! that was the the Pakistani Taliban, so that's all right then.


Until the next time

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Damned Inquisitive

At present I am undergoing a lengthy dental treatment programme.  Near my dentist, in Clapham, is a branch of Starbuck's and today after the dentist, I stopped there for a cup of coffee and to read my newspaper.

On ordering my coffee, I was staggered to hear the sales assistant ask for my name; this must be a new idea, since this information was not sought from me during my last visit just before Christmas.

My response to the request was 'why?'  The assistant replied that 'management' had ordered that this be done.  Of course I refused after which the fellow added that he thought that this was 'an American idea' or words to that effect.

I cannot imagine why Starbuck's needs my name and I consider it a gross impertinence to ask for it; after all, I am in the shop to buy a cup of coffee, not for example to order a bespoke suit. Sadly this sort of intrusion and familiarity is all too common (in both senses of the word) these days.

Given the bad odour in which the company is held following the recent revelations that it pays virtually zero Corporation Tax in this country, I recommend that it treads a little more warily in future.

I move that if anyone finds themselves subjected to this sort of request and does not wish to make a direct refusal, that they reply 'Mr Toad' or 'Miss Toad' as appropriate.

Until the next time.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

An Elite that Lacks Class

Anyone who can be bothered to 'read between the lines' of some of my rants here will know that I am no enthusiast for The Age of the Common Man.

Today the BBC reports an excellent example of the lack of class shown by the present elite (I cannot bring myself to abuse the word 'Aristocracy').

International Banking Giant Goldman Sachs proposed to delay until April the payment of the vast bonuses it will award to its staff and thus time the payments to coincide with the reduction of the top rate of income tax - from 50% to 45%. This politically inept plan earned Goldman a fully-deserved bollocking from the governor of the Bank of England.  In consequence Goldman has has decided to try to save face by cancelling the plan.

How can a mature organisation the size of Goldman Sachs show such a lack of sensitivity and political nous?  After all they cannot (can they?) be unaware that the public have at least as low an opinion of the banks as they do of politicians - and it is well known that irresponsibility and greed amongst the bankers has been a major contributor to the present slump.

The answer is of course as I wrote above, lack of class.

Until the next time.

Always News In England

Of course the title refers to the great British subject, the weather.

Yes, an impartial observer could be forgiven for thinking that here in Britain the weather - at any time of the year - seems to take us by surprise; and the newspapers are well aware of the fact and love to exploit it with headlines such as 'Phew what a scorcher!' and 'The Big Freeze.' etc.

Well quelle surprise! It's January and temperatures have dropped, concern has been expressed that old people may suffer - fair enough - but in truth it's unlikely to be much less than -4 degrees.  There's nothing new in low temperatures in January, so why the panic?

Even worse are the general pathetic attitudes that seem to prevail here: a year or two ago buses were not running because the roads were a bit icy; really - this in a city where buses ran throughout the second world war...

For six years I lived in France at an altitude of 800 metres - about 2600 feet; it was normal in the winter for the temperature to drop to -15 degrees and I recall a week when the highest temperature was -5, this accompanied by up to two feet of snow.  Nobody was surprised: it was the winter; trains and buses ran, the farmers kept the roads clear. I ask again, why is the winter a surprise here?

And in today's Daily Telegraph it is reported that 29% of parents will ban their children from playing outside in the cold weather as it is seen as 'too dangerous.'

As pathetic as the photograph I once saw of children wearing safety goggles whilst playing conkers.

I genuinely fear for the future.

Until the next time.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Wants to be an Enfant Terrible

Rupert Everett. Picture: Daily Telegraph
Rupert Everett has today expressed his concern that "wealthy oligarchs" are going to reduce the population here in Britain to the condition of "Indians under the British Empire."  For good measure, he adds what I suppose he hopes are provocative views about church marriages for 'gay' people.

I suppose that we have been made privy to Mr Everett's thoughts because he is a famous actor, though for the life of me I cannot see why his views are any more relevant than anyone else's; I doubt that the Daily Telegraph would be interested in MY views on such topics, and I do not think that an acting career is a qualification for weighty statements on current affairs, though I must confess that I am disinclined to research the subject further.  Perhaps he approves of the appalling windbaggery of the dreadful Kinnock?

Anyway if the Empire is to return, perhaps that means that the government will build roads and railways and other great public works as were carried out in the days of the Raj.

Damned good show I say.

Until the next time.

David Bowie

Today the BBC has published a list of "66 Facts about David Bowie."  This of course coincides with his first new release since 2003.

Bowie has sold 140 million records and is one of the all-time most successful music acts.  I have always thought that his best work was that with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Darryl Jones and Omar Hakkim - Let's Dance, China Girl etc.

For the benefit of the BBC and any David Bowie fans out there who like arcane information about their hero, I can offer a 67th fact:

I witnessed the man losing a cheeseburger-eating competition with an old friend of mine; the score was 7-4 and the contest took place in Beckenham...

The date?  Ah! That's my secret.

Until the next time

Wednesday 2 January 2013


She's at it again: Senora Kirchner, the increasingly desperate president of a near bankrupt Argentina, is following in the footsteps of her predecessor, General Galtieri in hoping to distract the Argentinian populace from domestic woes by making noises about the Falkland Islands, which she claims "belong to Argentina."

No they don't - in fact the islands were claimed by British Navy Captain Byron in 1765, though at the time they were a French possession, subsequently ceded to Spain but reclaimed by the British in 1833 since when the islands have been continually under British sovereign rule.

President Kirchner likes to refer to Argentinian territorial integrity, but for those who imagine that the islands are a short hop from Argentina (perhaps like the Isle of Wight apropos Britain) it's worth remembering that they are 310 miles from the Patagonian coast.  On that basis perhaps the USA will claim Cuba, which is 16 miles from Florida!

The 3000 inhabitants are resolute in their desire to remain under British protection; in fact the Argentinians rather blew it when they invaded in 1982, forcing the inhabitants to drive on the right and declaring Spanish to be the official language.  There were other heavy-handed diplomatic balls-ups at the time which served severely to piss-off the islanders.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that there is to be a referendum amongst the islanders concerning sovereignty, adding that Britain will "respect and defend the results of the plebiscite."  Also the islanders' leaders cite the UN charter regarding self-determination of peoples whilst President Kirchner bangs on about "colonial rule."

The Argentinian president would be better advised to focus her energies on the looming financial crisis in her country, and also bear in mind that apparently a substantial part of the Argentinian population actually don't give a damn!

Until the next time

Captain Mixed-Metaphorical

Another mixed metaphor, this time from the slightly oleaginous Sir Martin Sorrell, chairman of the vast advertising and market research group, WPP:

"It's been a very gruelling year and next year is going to be more of the same. You're in the trenches and it's hand-to-hand combat. Corporates are not happy bunnies at the moment."

Hmm, unhappy bunnies in the trenches...

This one comes from a BBC report about Sorrell's views on tax.

Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States, was once asked about sin; after a period of reflection he remarked that he was "agin it."  I suspect that Sorrell's views on tax are similar  to the late president's.

Until the next time.