Monday, 31 July 2006


Sorry been quiet - technical issues! I'm on dial-up ATM because the broadband connection has died - again! It was fine when I got back last week (a few days working away) and disappeared folloing heavy rain on Friday! Grrrr!

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Heavy handed plod again

Remember the stories about pensioners being harassed by the police over unpaid council tax? Well the police are at it again. This time the victim is an elderly chap accused of nothing more then offering peerages for some "under the counter" money to support the Labour party. When one of the donors was honest enough, when completing his application for a seat in the House of Lords, to tick the "Yes" box next to "Have you given a quarter of a million quid to the party supporting your application?" this poor old cove rushed round and helpfully suggested that such an admission was not needed.

Of course Lord Levy has a few bob and is now out on bail so I don't suppose we'll see him carted off to see the magistrates just yet but surely the police could be out hassling the real crooks - those who haven't paid the taxes imposed by the very people he is raising money to support.

Iain Dale's Diary

You'll notice that I'm bigging up Iain Dale's blog. The reason is simple - he writes well and looks to have an inside track on what is happening in the Westminster village right now and there is so much going down that it's useful having someone highlighting the bigger tidbits!

Crime and punishment

So now I'm confused. It appears that if I commit a crime in this country I should expect to get my collar felt and carted off to the assizes (but not Bow Street) where I will have my fortune told and, if it's deemed serious enough, I'll be indicted and sent to Crown Court and from there I'll enjoy a stretch at HM's pleasure in one of the increasingly over-crowded facilities run for the sole purpose of keeping miscreants out of circulation. There is a whole separate post about who we do or don't lock up and what we do or don't do with them once there but that's for another day.

As a process this looks okay until I do something to upset Uncle Sam, if I spit on a Ford or use the stars and stripes to light a Marlboro, in which case it seems that I can be extradited (is this in any way link to rendition I wonder?) and held - in a US jail - for up to two years without facing trial. Don't forget that the freedom loving US of A still has a number of people banged up on Cuba some four years after capture and has still to raise charges in a court of law, only this week it was finally agreed that they were subject to the Geneva Convention. So the Natwest Three are believed to have committed financial crimes against their employers (Greenwich Natwest , London) but because a co-defendent is also linked to Enron they are being dragged to Texas tomorrow (Thursday). They are going under the terms of a treaty between the UK and the US which was drawn up to combat terrorism and reduces the burden of proof when asking that a suspect is handed over for trial. The UK has ratified this treaty but our allies across the water, the ones with the rather less than shiny record on human rights of late, haven't.

These three men each made, after tax, 900,000 quid on the strength of the financial transactions and claim that when they heard about the Enron crash they went to the financial authorities and told them about their dealings, perhaps as a smoke-screen or perhaps because they didn't break UK law but whichever it is they are now being taken from the jurisdiction of the country where the alleged offences took place to placate the ongoing Bush/Blair concord. It stinks and I'm not alone in this view - read Iain Dale, Civitas, Liddell in The Sunday Times;
When it came to alleged IRA terrorists, the US judiciary worried that those people we wished to extradite might not receive due process in the British courts, what with us being imperialists and racists. So here's a question: do you think British citizens whom the US believes to be members of Al-Qaeda will get a fair trial in the US? In the state of Texas, which was devastated by the Enron implosion, will there be a fair trial for Messrs Bermingham, Darby and Mulgrew?
As the law stands anyone - "terrorist" or not - can be whisked away to stand trial in the US so be careful who you upset and keep an eye on this and other laws as they get rolled out by Governor Blair.

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Two billion quid anyone?

No real surprise that the government has finally woken up to the idea that we really don't have any option but nuclear for power generation. However much people wring their hands over the risks and uncertainty of waste disposal and the desire for renewables the UK is going to be reliant on as many hamsters as we can get into those little wheels unless some investment is made in building power stations. Of course the discussion then revolves around what type to build but the cost of coal and gas is rising and we rely on other countries for both - not a good place to be as was shown when gas prices from Europe were suddenly increased and also when Russia and Ukraine fell out over a bill.

The key part now, of course, will be how successive administrations address the issue of developing energy from renewable sources - something the UK lead the field in until the ill-fated NFFO which was designed to support renewables but, because nuclear is also a non-fossil fuel, supported nuclear power generation.

This country hits the wall in 2023 with regards to power - we need new provision up and running by then, it's when the current nuclear stations will go end of life and they currently provide 20% of our power - and the amount of power needed will only increase because turning equipment off at night won't save enough power to make up for the house building boom.

How cool is this? It's not just your simple "add a flag" - quikmaps allow scribbles and notes and offer images rather than street maps if that's more appropriate. Blame Methel for sending me off on this one!

Monday, 10 July 2006

Golden oldies

I'm not usually a fan of reruns or old stuff being rehashed but this looks like a winner! From the same site - the new system of threat level is revealed, don't go there if easily frightened or offended.

The footy is over and the climax was totally unrelated to football and all to do with thuggery but thankfully it didn't feature English players or English fans. Whatever excuse Zidane rolls out I'm afraid I find it hard to believe it can be used to justify an assault. Anyway, on Memex I found a link to some fantastic portraits of footballers - wonderful stuff.

That's me for now - Test Match starts Thursday :-)

[Current sounds: Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan, "Highway 61 Revisited [Remastered]"]

Sunday, 9 July 2006


Feeling German this evening - not sure why but It may have something to do with some sort of 3 to 1 occurrence.


Not mentioned The Mermaid for a while so I thought I'd big it up as The Mermaid is a super pub. You might have missed the post about it being redecced and now having a large non-smoking room as well as an outstanding range of cask conditioned beers and palatable lagers.The beer garden is beautiful but can get busy at weekends so arrive early to make sure you find a table and well cooked but sensibly priced food is available at lunchtimes Monday to Saturday. Always a warm welcome at The Mermaid.

Hopefully Jackie will let me have photos of the redevelopment work so that I can update The Mermaid page on the website but in the interim you can always get your lazy butts down to The Mermaid and enjoy a traditional, friendly, country pub the likes of which is sadly disappearing in this age of bland commercialism.

Monday, 3 July 2006


Playing with w.bloggar again and the "Insert stuff about what you are playing in Windows Media Player" intrigued me so that's why you may get a wee bit about what I'm listening to every now and again. As a piece of information it's probably as boring as stamp collecting but I like the idea of these connections - media player talks to w.bloggar which talks to Blogspot which publishes the whole shooting match.

[Current sounds: Smile Like You Mean It, The Killers, "Hot Fuss"]

Mozart and I

So. I got a mail from someone who had seen the Bishopsbourne site and wondered whether I had a shot of Bourne Park House. I didn't but I said I'd grab some over the weekend - it's the work of a minute and I took a few. Now I'm famous in the world of Mozart!
[Current sounds: Jenny Was a Friend of Mine, The Killers, Hot Fuss]

Sunday, 2 July 2006

Sad indictment?

Maybe I'm getting old but I find it disturbing that the lead news story is the resignation of the England captain on a day which saw two more soldiers dying in Afghanistan, the discovery of two women murdered in Shrewsbury, the escalation of conflict in the Middle East and four young people dying in a road accident in Northern Ireland.

Beckham is a wealthy man, and good luck to him. He's been very astute in his business dealings and marketed his looks and skills very wisely. I don't doubt he is very upset to give up a job that is the dream of many boys (and girls) but I'm reasonably confident that he and his family will eat tomorrow and the day after that and for many days to come.

By the way - why oh why does anyone think we can control Afghanistan through force of arms? Our own history and, latterly, the history of the Soviet Union show that an indigenous guerilla army can hold off all comers in that difficult terrain.

I think we all know what is meant by "massage parlour" but I don't remember it being used as a euphemism by the police and national news in the way it is with regards the apparent murders in Shrewsbury. The place the bodies of these two unfortunates was found is described as a Health Studio but, and I quote, "police believe it may be a massage parlour". I'm left to wonder where those of us who might need a nice massage can safely go without innuendo.

Saturday, 1 July 2006

It's coming home

England's World Cup excursion is over. £5 Million/annum and the "Golden Generation" of English players didn't get Sven past big Phil, the bloke who should be replacing him. I hope I'm proven wrong but I'm afraid I don't expect great things under McClaren either.

Fiery Fred

Fred Truman has finally succumbed to the lung cancer he's been fighting for a while now. Fred was a fearsome fast bowler but is known to later generations for hosting the lunchtime pub games programme. He was a great speaker on cricket and both brusque and knowledgeable and a great character.


Jemma and her friend are doing their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award hike/camp/hike today so I collected them and Calum last night. Cal has been sleeping in the tent all week and because Jemma is using it this weekend he decided to come over here and use my small tent in the garden - that's where he slept last night.

Dropped the girls off this morning, they are starting out 5 miles from here, and they met up with the others in the group - 30 in all, split into teams of 6. It was already 20 degrees at 08:00 so they've got a nice day for it!