Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lib Dems and a hung Parliament

In case you missed it, Ming the not-very-merciless has ( as a celebration of the first year of his leadership) appointed a minion to look at forming pacts with other parties if there is a hung Parliament. As others say elsewhere today, this opens a gigantic Pandora's box.
It also shows that ( as I postulated yesterday) the next election is over. Ming is looking backwards, rather than forwards, and will get completely trampled in the exit from LibDem voters.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Electoral Calculus

I'm not sure Political Betting has got the right word here - Calculus was a branch of mathematics that seemed to me to have little relevance to very much. I'm sure someone will correct me.
However, I think it should probably be "Calculation".
This is all because of the most recent polls, giving Dave an actual majority when the election comes.
I have been saying for some time that the Tories would have an overall majority of more than 40, and the LibDems would be back down below 40 seats. On the present poll, it looks like below 20, never mind 40.
I have also predicted NuLabour will effectively disappear and we will be back to Old Labour with a friendly grin ( can't see Gordon being able to do that, can you?) and the LibDems moving further left.
What is quite clear is that Gordon is going to do his damnedest to bowl Dave over, assuming he gets the nod when Bliar goes. As his recent intervention in promulagating the 2016 World Cp shows, people just don't believe or like him. So my bet is, if Gordon faces Dave at the Despatch Box, even more people in this country will NOT vote for him.
There may be ups and downs between now and whenever, but the next election is effectively over.

Monday, February 26, 2007


Just so you know how sad I am, I was watching a repeat of Rosemary and Thyme last night. Pam Ferries had bought donkey cards for Christmas ( despite the countryside looking about September) and when Felicit Kendal went to buy another Christmas present for her, she refused all connections with donkeys ( donkey bag, donkey mouse mat, donkey mouse, donkey purse) and was finally offered two well bound volumes.
" What kind of donkey is that?" she asked.
" Donkey Hotey." ( Don Quixote, geddit??)

Transylvania again

I am a very superstitious but only because my mother was very fey, and continually pointed out the future.
I think superstition occurs when the same random event happens frequency in a certain order, so that people start associating certain things. For example, I am extremely weird ( ok,ok, I know) about finding money: if I find a coin somewhere that is a sign.
So imagine my delight when I found a 10 cent coin in a property I was looking at in Floresti.
This is worth all of 2p.
I only need another 4,999,999 to buy the place.

Churchill and the Labour Party

There is clearly something going on.
Gordon Brown, Tony Bliar and now John Reid tell us he is one of their heroes.
This smells to me like a truly cynical ploy. By association, Labour are trying to say, hey, we are really conservatives. Er no, you are control freak, economy,pension fund, liberty destroying,
lying bastards.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I am sitting in an internet cafe in Sigishoara, having had THE most fantastic day. One of the particularly nice things is that noone here seems to know the first thing about business and I have become a combined business guru and mascot that appears to open all sorts of doors that have previously been closed. Thoroughly undeserved I'm sure, but it is really nice to have people making appointments NOW for when I am next back.
The main point about this area is that it is a Saxon area, with about 200 villages. The Saxons came here from Germany 8 or 900 years ago, at the behest of the Holy Roman Emperor, to provide security for the southern edges of his lands.The houses are unimaginatively beautiful, as are the villages, churches and locations themselves, but under Ceaucescu they were depopulated and devastated. The Mihai Eminescu Trust has been working for 15 years to save these villages and provide sustainable development. They just might be getting to the corner that is marked "turning the".
This is only my second time in the area, but every one of the ideas and business possibilities that were discussed then have been taken to at least the next step, if not the one after that, and even the things I was told then were impossible have somehow become possible, as people are falling over themselves to outdo each other in the services & products on offer to the wider world and to their own citizens.
One of the most interesting conversations today was with an eco-economic professor on CO2 emissions and combatting them. Apparently, miles and miles of forest are not as good at converting the CO2 as a bio-diverse agriculture, including prairie, different trees, different animals and the regular growing season. Transylvania has the possibility to become the Lungs of Europe.In a weird way, the EUs set-aside programme, forced on them by production, may actually be a really good idea.
From people looking for handouts for their business proposition, it would appear that within a very short space of time they have got the idea that what they have to offer has to be saleable at a fair price, make a REAL profit, and provide funds for further expansion. 6 months ago, the trust was being inundated with people wanting a sub for this or that. Within that period - and I like to think slightly because of my prodding them - they have managed to get the sustainability message across. There are now real businesses coming forward with real potential that don't require handouts, and which will be the basis of the economy for the area and its inhabitants for a very long time.
The other really nice thing was meeting an actor called David Mallinson, he who played O'Donnell in the original This Life. Delightful man full of wonderful stories. One of the Ms. Lears asked if he was out saving trees, too. I think the answer is yes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chinese films & Glasgow Tories

I went, with my BAFTA hat, to see a Chinese film last night called something about "Golden" I know this is a bit vague, but that was roughly my feeling about the film. I have seen quite a few over the years, and apart from them all having unhappy endings ( I do like a nice happy ending) they are usually extremely good "fun" in a martial arts sort of way. This was no exception, but the body count was so great and the general air of betrayal so intense that I found it hard to concentrate on what was admittedly a pretty thin story. General advice: steer clear of Chinese films unless you want a good cry.
And what about the Glasgow Tories? Mrs. Lear helps out from time to time, and she reports they are in good heart. They have at least one extremely good candidate for the Scottish Parliamentary elections, and a further three who are quite good. I wouldn't be surprised if there are rather more Tories at Holyrood than most people are betting, especially as , at least in Glasgow, the concentration is on specific local issues.
I am off to Romania again for a couple of days. The temperature is much lower than it was in January by about 15 degrees celsius, so I am taking my woolly boots. The concensus around here is I am bonkers, as all they remember is the Romanian Orphans ( still a problem in major centres), although it is slowly improving.
I just love where I am doing some work, which is around Sigishoara, itself a World Heritage site. Within a twenty kilometre radius there are about another 40. It would be an ideal area for people needing peace and quiet, especially eg authors trying to write a book. However, I had lunch with a friend , Mr. Retired Civil Engineer, yesterday, and his view was that I was going for the legacy option. He was very dubious and mistrustful of this, as he said I was in danger of " getting " principles. He regarded that as most dangerous, and claimed he had never had any that required him NOT to compromise. He also told me he had had some sort of tax investigation and subsequently received a letter saying he did not need to submit a tax return any more.
Either his means are considerably less than I think or he needs new reading glasses.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Not necessarily good for the Tories

I have a thing about being 57 - I hasten to add I have made it past this fateful year of life. I do, however, know many people who have managed to pop their clogs between 56 and 58, and noticed even more in the papers.
I am led to believe if a man makes it past 58, in general terms, he is a pretty good bet to make it into his 70s, and if past 72, he is usually good for a few years more. Apparently, the overall shift to people dying at an older age has not altered this strange blip in the mortality rates.
Gordon Brown is 56 today.
The Tories definitely want him to become leader and survive.

Monday, February 19, 2007

" Doing something worthwhile with my life"

I can hardly believe Bliar said this. So being Prime Minister of Great Britain is not worthwhile?

Why I LOVE ( one) Architect.

Amongst my many charitable works, the Mihai Eminescu Trust in Romania ranks high at the moment. In case you don't know they are saving areas in Romania that Ceaucesciu devastated, and very lovely it is beginning to look. It's in Transylvania, and you may have seen my recent post about how much I liked it.
Jessica, the boss lady, asked me if I knew anyone who could copy OS maps, and I said I did, expecting to have to pay to get 20 copies of each done.
So imagine my delight when I asked Nindy ( who has been somewhat pissing me off) to copy the maps, and he said he would do it for free.
If you would like Nindy's address, leave a comment with your email and I will send it to you.

How to have a legacy and have a position in history.

Well of course everyone HAS a position in history, however small a dot it might be. But I am of course talking about Bliar.
Three things impinged on me this morning.
The first was a survey showing that the South East, East etc contribute INTO the tax pot. As you move North, this progressively diminishes. Thus East Midlands ( net WITHDRAWAL)takes out slightly less than the Midlands, which takes out less than North West, which takes out less than North East etc etc. The two biggest drawers out are Northern Ireland, right at the top - or the bottom - who withdraw something like £3200 pa per person, and Wales, with about £2500. Does this ring some kind of bell? The more you give people the less likely they are to sign up to conservative principles - and it creates a great client base who are not going to shoot themsleves in the foot. I know NI is not split along Tory/NuLabour lines, but to be fair the MPs from NI are irrelevant most of the time in terms of Westminster. So Tony's first legacy is to have created a state which is dependant on handouts rather than enterprise.
The second thing is Bliar's Marr interview - "Under 21s will for the first time be liable to mandatory prison sentences for gun crime" Er excpet it's not true. In 2003 a law was passed which meant over 18s could be mandatorily jailed for possession of a gun. Except, because the time for drafting bills has fallen from 18 months to 6 weeks, and debate in Parliament to nil - and anyway most of it is done on the sofa as orders in council - it means that jailing someone under 21 for this particular problem is effectively unenforceable. And the suspension of the "sus" laws mean all these people are now openly wandering around with guns ,knives and whatnot, with effectively no check on them.
So the second part of Bliar's legacy is a raft of badly drafted, uneforceable laws that will take years to sort out. In all probability, the best option is to repeal whole chunks of it and replace it with properly thought through laws.
Finally, there is a story in the papers today about Oban and its new "Western hub" airport. The local authority has spent millions upgrading Oban's " airport". Except noone wants to fly there. A wonderful metaphor for all the IT programmes, failed infrastructure PFI contracts etc etc. So Bliar's third legacy is going to be billions wasted in non-operational systems, institutions and projects, whilst we also end up with non-functioning armed forces. And, as an add on, massively overtaxed citizens.
Great legacy. Great place in history.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

What's British?

I've actually no idea, but I do know a couple of things I regard as relevant.
The first is slow to anger, but devastating when roused. This is slightly at odds with the Scots, Welsh and Irish, who tend to be both quick to anger, and also devastating when roused. One only has to think of the Irish on day one of the Somme, who were the only regiment to take their objective, but then had to fall back through lack of support on their flanks. The British as a whole are now surely angered by Bliar and his henchmen
The second is a belief in British superiority, despite any evidence to the contrary. It was only Mrs. Thatcher's period in office that gave us this belief once more. Notably, Bliar has managed to dent this again, by a pangloss of lies, and soundbites.
The third is a general suspicion of " foreigners". All societies are suspicious of incomers, even down to the idyllic small village. Let the new person EARN people's respect. The British have generally excerised caution until this present Government when the now discredited multiculturialsim was too eagerly embraced. Caution and restraint would have served us better, and a requirement of assimilation. Cobbet Rides Again argues forcefully for this today.
Finally, fairness. The Britsh, known for a stiff upper lip, standoffishness and so on have always been utterly determined on fairness - taking the part of the underdog comes naturally to a Briton. The best argument in any situation in Britain is to describe something as " unfair" to get everyone on your side immediately. Bliar has turned even this on its head. Whether it be education, where social mobility is no longer posssible because of his policies; the armed forces having to beg borrow and steal equipment ( tellingly, Bliar refused to go into the Combined Cadet Force at Fettes - one of the reasons people from that school are known as Fets Wets);the NHS which is now not renewing contracts of overseas Doctors, Nurses etc, under the fig leaf that there are enough new British trained interns coming forward ( I'm willing to bet this is a stealth cut as opposed to a stealth tax); to the tax system, which is trumpeted as green when it manifestly isn't ( more road tax, but even more expensive trains and buses); to the new council taxes, which will take into account if you live near the shops or schools, in a nice area; the list goes on.
Personally, I am utterly disgusted with what a bunch of Scottish miscreants have done, not only to Britain, but to the Union, and even to the Labour Party itself. The Sunday Telegraph had a very good article today describing just how duff a PM Bliar has been.The Labour Party used to stand for something ( whether you agreed with it or not). Now, I don't believe anyone could actually say what NuLabour is for - apart from self perpetuation.
And to cap it all, Andrew Marr, who is a Lorettonian and should know better, never even asked Bliar about the Cash for Peerages this morning. Marr has managed to lose all credibility as a political interviewer over the last few weeks, soft on Labour, spin on Tories, as opposed to impartial and correct.
Before everyone thinks I am jealous or fixated on Scottish Public Schools,and overproud of my own School ( Rugby), may I just remind you of Lord Peter Wimsey, when being interviewed in one of Dorothy Sayers books,was asked " School?". He replied " Yes", and was wearily asked " Which school?" " There is only one," he replied, " Eton". " Not at all," said the interviewer. " You might have been to Rugby, for instance". " Rugby? Good heavens, no. That isn't a school, it's a railway station."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Digging for Butterflies

I'm a bit of a paper/pen shop fetishist. I LOVE nicely bound writing pads, notebooks etc, and always carry a Smythson pad of that lovely extremely expensive blue paper with me. My present pad was sold to me by Samantha Cameron, but that's another story.I don't write that much in it ( too expensive) but if I want to retain something for a while I use it.
Whilst in Italy a few years ago I bought a very nice vellum notebook, beautifully bound, with the idea of setting things down in it that pertained to the family. I hadn't seen it for a while, but knew where it was, and duly dug it out last night. I also found with it a strange little book bought many many years ago in Montreux, and into which I put thoughts, ideas for stories and whole lists of anagrams of a variety of weirdness - and yes I am a crossword loony.
I have them in 4 categories: Appropriate,opposite,weird and consequence.As an example, "Arts seldom" is under approriate as it changes to " Old masters". Similarly " The war" goes to " Wreath". In the second and third group you find "Triip to CIA" becoming"Patriotic". Definitely in the third group is "Teacher" and "Cheater", whilst " Cruel MP" is the consequence of " Crumple".Now you see how weird I really am.
Some are truly magnificent - " Extra time" is "Taximeter", and " Night drugs please" is "Sleeping draught". Now I think about it, I might add one to each blog - I'd forgotten how good they were.
Anyway, this is all a bit of a preamble, because within this book are a number of items that I had put into my world famous best seller " Digging for Butterflies" I should explain it is only to be viewed by my family after I am gone in another 44 years.When I turned 50, Middle Miss Lear gave me a beautiful leather bound book with the title in gold block on the outside. It comes from a dog we had, which used to rootle about in the grass, ripping tufts with his teeth and throwing them in the air, scampering about and generally behaving a bit like a Mad March Hare. When I asked the dog's owner ( Miss Lear 2 who was quite small at the time) what her dog was doing, she replied " Oh, he's digging for Butterflies"
At the time, of course, I just thought this was a funny remark, but as I have grown older, I have come to realise how wise it was. There is a great truth in this saying, as well as wisdom and a signpost to life. Even though we knew the dog could never find a butterfly under the grass, it never stopped him being optimistic about it.He was also thinking laterally, and trying to do something never done before.What a lesson in life: Strive optimistically and with pleasure, and never be put off by setbacks and failure.
As a final thought for the day, one of the sayings I had jotted down, possibly as much as thirty years ago, was "The truth changes colour depending in the light". As we say in Glasgow, " Where's yer Bliar noo?"

Friday, February 16, 2007

Why I hate Architects & H & SE

1) When you ask them a question, they say they will have to check and get back to you.
2) When you as them the same question two days later, they say they will have tocheck and get back to you.
3) When you ask them on the Monday following, they say they will have to check and get back to you.
4) When you ask them on Wednesday, they say they will need a site meeting.
5) When you have the site meeting on Friday morning, they say they will have to check and get back to you.
6) So when you go ahead because you actually know the answer already, and the workers are starting to stand around doing nothing, they say you have to produce a drawing to show what you have done.
Er, I thought that's what architects did??

And as far as H & SE goes, their efforts do not actually produce one less death, accident or mistake anywhere in the world. It is merely an exercise in backside covering, so that when someone comes along and says, " This went wrong" you can say " Ah well, my paperwork is all in order and therefore I am not to blame."
The French dont have such a thing as H & SE. ( Nor, as far as I know does the rest of Europe)They have kept to the sensible position that if you as a person or a worker do something wrong or stupid, it's your own fault, and you take responsibility for it. In this country, of course, noone can fail and nothing is anybody's fault. What absolute bollocks. No wonder this country is in deep doodah.Arseholes.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

From Devil's Kitchen

Devil's Kitchen always has factual analysis. This appeared today.

This is the full text of the Equality Act 2006. Section (52) titled "Public Authorities" says the following
(1) It is unlawful for a public authority exercising a function to do any act which constitutes discrimination.It then says,
(3)The prohibition in subsection (1) shall not apply to-
(a) the House of Commons,
(b) the House of Lords,
(c) the authorities of either House of Parliament,
(d) the Security Service,
(e) the Secret Intelligence Service,
(f) the Government Communications Headquarters, or
(g) a part of the armed forces of the Crown which is, in accordance with a requirement of the Secretary of State, assisting the Government Communications Headquarters.

So when all those politicians were banging on about how the Catholic Church could not possibly be exempt because equality from discrimination was universal and applied to everyone, what they actually meant was everyone except them.

Of course, this is no surprise ( after all, when you have been the beneficiary of free University education, you certainly don't want anyone else having it do you?) Human nature is immutable, and this Government is particularly bad at "Sorry"

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bit late I know, but....

Bliar is doing one of his hospital visits.
He goes into a ward.
"How are you today?" he asks the old man in the first bed.
"Wee sleekit cow'rin' tim'rous beastie," screams the man at him, so he moves on.
"And how are you?" he asks the second patient.
"Some hae meat but cannae eat!" yells this one.
"Hmm," says Bliar to the doctor. "Is this the psychiatric unit?"
"Naw - it's the Serious Burns Unit."
Boom! Boom!
I have a friend, Mr. Retired Civil Engineer, who lives next door to Burns' cottage in Alloway. He is less than pleased at the mega-money( many many millions) that has just been showered on the Bard's erstwhile home. During the summer, it is already impossible to visit them owing to the hoards visiting the cottage. Once turned into the "Burns Experience" ( Yech!), their lives will not be worth living.

Manners (2)

Today's Herald has an article about manners in various British cities. It will probably come as no great surprise, but Glasgow is the most polite city in Britain, well ahead of others, especially Edinburgh ( Where would we be without laughter? Answer: Edinburgh).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

BAFTA & Dame Maggie Smith

Tuesday is BAFTA night, and I went to see "Becoming Jane" which is released in about a month's time. Quite a nice film, lacked a bit of pace and the script was a bit iffy, buit the acting was good. Maggie Smith played what one might describe as the Lady De Bourgh character from Pride and Prejudice. It was delightful. Her nuances and facial expression never failed to convey exactly what was meant. Quite by chance, I watched "Keeping Mum" last night, where she plays an axe murderer. Despite the difference in the parts, she conveyed the dottiness perfectly All justified by " What wouldn't a mother do for her daughter?".
I was reminded of her in the Peter Ustinov film " Hot Millions" where she played a diffident and incompetent secretary, who emerges as the heroine.
Julie Walters had the best line in tonight's film." Affection is desirable, but money is essential." If only everyone would behave with that in mind, I'm sure things would soon improve.

Bloody Glasgow Council

You may say I should not swear on a blog, but I can tell you the office was blue with naughty words this morning.
I spend most of my life dealing with Glasgow Council, between the planning department, the rates department, the housing benefit department, the cleansing department, the get a licence for a skip department etc etc.
Sherrif Officers ( better known as Bailifs in England) turned up, looking for rates for a property from 2000/2001.
We don't have rates to pay. We rent properties to people, who are then responsible for paying the rates. Even if they don't pay, we are still not liable. They are. The moment somebody goes into or out of a property, we send a note of who they are, their address and the relevant dates. The Council had lost all this correspondance.They put it onto microfiche, and tons of documents appear to go missing every year. So instead of asking for information, they employ Sherrifs Officers at great expense, who then get a flea in their ear from me, and a copy of the correspondance.
The other one is even better. Our present offices were 3 derelict buildings. There were 3 entries in the valuation roll. For reasons noone has ever been able to fathom, the Council then made three further entries in relation to the properties, once two out of the three were redeveloped. This has been pointed out to them about 10 times over the past few years. They STILL send the Sherrifs Officers for the SAME, NON-EXISTANT property on a regular basis. Every time it is sorted out ( our time, effort etc, not theirs) we get a call telling us it is now all sorted. Two months later we have to do it all over again.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sunday Lunch

I've always been a fan of lunchtime lunches and conversation. I especially like Sunday lunch, so we frequently ask people to come and partake food and wine with us, sitting properly at a table and having a REAL conversation.
Yesterday was no exception. Mr and Mrs Die Casting came, and Cousin Carole was still with us. We had a super lunch. As you know, I don't drink in this country, but I get quite as excited as those who do.
What did exercise our brains, though, was the present position of Miss Die Casting and her young man, referred to in her family as " German Dave".
They have been going out together for nigh on 3 years. However, the total time spent together is minimal, as German Dave works in Germany ( 5 star travelling life style) and Miss D C lives near Glasgow. GD ( whose mother is German and father Croatian) arrives late Friday night about 3 weekends a month and disappears again Sunday morning. Yesterday was no exception. Miss DC was is and continues to be extremely upset by this. There is no end in sight. Mr & Mrs DC think German Dave is a bit of a gold-digger. They admitted if he was a merchant banker earning £2million a year, living in Glasgow or London, they would not be too worried, but Mr.DC ( extremely rich) gets very defensive when German Dave's credit card won't clear.
So what to do? Clearly Miss DC moving to Germany is no solution as GD travels all week anyway. So should Mr.DC offer GD a job? But it appears GD is a bit of a rolling stone and does not want to change what he does. The real problem is the complete lack of any endgame. It'll simply go on like this forever.
The general consensus was that Mr.DC should have words with German Dave along the lines of " I'll cut her off without a penny" and see what happens.
I accept this is not up there as problems go with Darfur or Arab-Israeli conflict, but it is having a serious effect on one family.
Anyone any suggestions??

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Where is Tapestry Talks? And who isn't a grass?

Tapestry Talks is one of the people I used to check on every day. He has not posted since January 9th. I check back occassionally, but nothing. He is an interesting chap. I ran across this today when I was checking back to see if I was doing anything wrong ( it's only part of the piece, I suggest you read all of it)

Cameron And The End Of The EU

Cameron seems able to swing people behind him when he meets them face to face. That's a great skill. He appears to be offering nothing in terms of favours in return for support as he wins backers in the media and elsewhere.
Blair managed to get all behind him but only by agreeing to everything his targets requested. To the EU he promised the Euro. To Bush he promised unconditional support for the Iraq War. To others he promised all kinds of things most of which he failed to deliver - e.g PR to Paddy Ashdown.
Being tradeable for favours, in particular made Blair the all time favourite for Rupert Murdoch. According to Lance Price, Murdoch has more or less controlled Britain's relations with the EU 'under' Blair.
It is pleasing that Murdoch is finding Cameron less of a sucker, and Murdoch is having to learn respect for Cameron, even if that means he is taking the occasional pot shot at him to see if he can bowl him over. Murdoch must be beginning to realise that taking pot shots at Cameron could soon become a highly counterproductive strategy in terms of hanging on to all his media/sports privileges.
Power could swing quickly back to Westminster under a new Conservatiove government with the EU reaching a period of less certainty as to how to stabilise let alone progress.
Murdoch has seen the light about Gordon Brown. Only Paul Dacre is getting that one completely wrong still. He will have to retract on that front or look pretty foolish before long, with the Brown/EU era of big government/centralisation about to crack, and power about to swing back the other way. Cameron is the vanguard.

What's particularly interesting about this is that it shows just how unprincipled this Government is. As I have said before, it is the first Government in the UK that has absolutely no guiding principles, apart from getting into power, and retaining it. Virtually every policy heralded in 1997 and since has been reversed. It shows how venal Bliar is, and how lacking in understanding of true political ability. Anyone can gather support by promising all things to all men. But to get support without actually promising anything is a sign of true political nous.
Oh, and by the way, the ONE person who did NOT grass, sneak, peach, or clype at school was David Cameron. Bliar would be unable to claim the same thing.

Danny and NuLabour

You may recall the campaign Praguetory ran about Danny Dewsbury the film maker and his work for NuLabour. I understand it is coming back to haunt the Party in no uncertain fashion, despite the fact that he finally got paid, about 5 months after he had done the work.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cousin Carole

We have my ( older) cousin Carole staying for the weekend. She is a delightful person, full of chat, who sadly lost her husband some months ago and her 93 year old father ( qv Uncle Willie has died) within the last two months.
The really nice thing is we are chatting about things from our childhood, and about our other cousins. One forgets so much from what , in our case, was a magical time, filled with fun, sun and love. I accept we lived in a privileged atmosphere, but I know many others from the same era, without the privilege, who equally enjoyed the time.
I believe that the reason it was enjoyable was the lack of reponsibility. It's wonderful to know if you scrape a knee somebody will wash it and bandage it ( not forgetting the Dettol -ouch!), call you in to eat at appropriate times, put your clothes out and make sure you change your knickers. Nowadays, of course, we are all too concerned with Bird Flu and Global warming to have time for fun. No wonder so many of Britain's town centres are no go areas at night with young people completely out of their skulls - they are drinking to forget.
Actually, putting the clothes out has a thread running up to the present day. I am not noted for my dress sense . I had my first pair of long trousers at 12, brown cords, bought in Jenners, and I haven't progressed much since. I am also slightly colour blind and therefore have no real idea of what goes together. Mrs. Lear despairs of me. She recently upbraided me with the line " Honestly, you dress so badly, I expect your mother put your clothes out for you when you were a little boy!"
At my somewhat sheepish look, she sighed deeply, gathered some alternative clothes and put them on my chair. She wandered off muttering to herself " It's true, men are just little boys at heart."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Frank the Car

AKA The Undertaker collects rents for me in the East End of Glasgow. I hasten to add he is called The Undertaker because he is somewhat eccentric, wearing a top hat and driving an old hearse. He is known as Frank the Car because he fixes cars that are not working.
Anyway, Frank collects the rents because he is a tenant of mine within a small industrial complex, and he collects everyone's rents and then delivers them to me. He gets paid a small amount for doing this.
The reason he does it, however, is not for monetary gain. It is because Frank LOVES talking to people. He doesn't sleep well, and frequently toddles into one or other of the Glasgow police stations for a chat at 3 or 4 in the morning. I often get a text from him at midnight, telling me some extraordinary tale. I am reminded of Terry Pratchett's Ankh Morpork city with denizens of the night lurking in the shadows.
What I hadn't realized was that Frank is actually following in the traditions of some Indian beggar caste that bothers people for money. There was an article recently in Private Eye about how the Indian tax people had hired the beggars to collect tax from recalcitrant payers. They were so succesful that they only needed to do it for about a week, and over 90% of the outstanding taxes were ingathered - with the rest promised within a further week.
Frank clearly works on the same principle. He starts talking to the tenants about 72 hours before the rents are due, and doesn't stop until they give him the money. Frank always turns up on our doorstep at least 24 hours before the cash is due - with the money.
So spare a thought for those unfortunates who have to cough up - the pen may be mightier than the sword, but the tongue is mightier than your willpower. As one tenant put it to me " He does my head in"


When I was a wee boy, I was made to say please and thank you, and may I get down from the table ,please.
I was reminded yesterday about how nice manners are. I was in London and had a meeting with a Romanian lady and one of our lady aristocrats. Politeness was everywhere. Doors were opened and ladies were ushered through. Gentlemen stood up when ladies entered the room. Graciously, the ladies said " Please don't get up" but of course we did. The discussion was friendly, people's opinions were deferred to, and a sensible path forward was agreed by all concerned. People had put their own ambitions and agendas on hold, in the interests of making progress that all could buy into.
How different from a meeting I had this morning when everyone appeared to be only interested in ripping each other's throats out. Individual agendas and demands were jabbed in your eye. At the end of an hour, nothing had been agreed as everyone stood on their points of principle. Complete waste of time, and noone even attempted a please or thank you, even when passing the milk.
We've lost so much from our everyday lives, with people being told they have "rights" and how to get them. What happend to responsibilities? Parents assault teachers for reprimanding young louts.Householders are charged for defending their homes. Crime appears to be lessening because pople don't bother to report it any more. They probably feel they would end up in jail for assaulting the counsellers who the police would foist on them. We all have to work extra hours because the cost of living rises inexorably, despite what our Government likes to think. The knock-on effects on our society are already beginning to come home to roost, and I can only say that I am gladthat I will probably only have to put up with it for a shorter time than most.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The dog

I have a very winsome Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who is, in Kennel Club parlance, a Black and Tan. He is now about 3 years old. Having had previous experience of these dogs, until they are 5, they only have about half a brain cell. After they are 5, their brain capacity doubles. Still only 1 whole brain cell, but marginally better.
Anyway, one of the daughters ( actually, they are not like Regan, Goneral and Cordelia so I can't really refer to them as such) has a very beautiful and upmarket Burmese cat, who occasionally comes to stay with us. She ( the cat) hates everything apart from herself, and certainly regards our small dog as completely beneath her. She terrifies him, and all he wants to do is be friends. The cat's owner tells me she thinks my dog is stupid. I don't think he is, but I am prepared to revise my opinion.
In essence, I have been reading all about the disadvantaged children and how Bliar and his lot have closed lots of the schools that used to help challenged children. If there was such a place for dogs, my daughter would probably have sent my dog there. He is an enormous coward ( like his owner) but, as I said at the beginning, extremely winsome, a bit like Hugh Grant with big brown eyes and floppy hair.
Imagine my distress when I discovered him this morning staring fixedly his water bowl. Then at his food bowl. Then at his water bowl.... you get the picture.
I have therefore somewhat revised my opinion of his brain power.
He is clearly dyslexic.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Marketing magazine

I have been reading the Marketing Magazine ( from the Chartered Institute of Marketing). The theme was marketing using a story to make the brand stick in people's minds, but there were two quotes which jumped out at me.
The first was: "A tale, however slight, illuminates truth". Absolutely right.
The second: " Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" Absolutely right again. In case you haven't guessed, the stories connected with Iraq and cash for peerages are those that will stick in the public's mind long after Bliar is gone.
What struck me was that these two are ultimately linked. History famously never repeats itself, but it gives a pretty good approximation. And if you haven't learned from your experiences and from mistakes, God help you.
So just now, as Bliar contemplates the ashes of his premiership and the imminent charging of at least three of his closest allies, I hope he spares a thought for Tricky Dickie Nixon, who, if he had stood up and said, " Yes I knew about it, but it was wrong" might have got away with it. Similarly, if Bliar had said on day one, " Yes, we took the money, and yes they expected to get peerages in the fullness of time - what do you expect, we had an election to win." - all this might have blown over.
Bliar, of course, would never listen to his Ancient History - " Those whom the Gods love, the Gods destroy".

The Next General Election

Everyone is postulating a hung Parliament this morning, and what might the Lid Dems do.The short answer is I have no idea, but I do know it won't be a hung parliament.
My reason for saying this is simple. All the calculations "guessing" seat numbers ( Baxter et al) do NOT take into account Scotland and Wales as quite different calculations - at least, as far as I know. If you know different, please tell me.
My point is that the number of seats held by Labour in these two countires is not going to be significantly different - lots of extra Labour votes will effectively go to waste as they already have and will keep the seats. But the perrenial middle classes in England will vote massively against NuLabour. So in reality, the 6%Tory lead gap is probably minus 5% in Scotland and Wales but plus 11% in England. This will have profound constitutional implications in the future. As I have said , Old Labour will be back merged into the LibDems in the future, or completely out of touch as they were in the 80's

Sunday, February 04, 2007

October 2006 Blog

For some reason, having migrated to New Blogger, the first post that came up was from October last year, and referred to Bliar mentioning only a few hundred NHS redundancies. The Tories had suggested 20,000, which I felt might be OTT.
Now we know the truth. It's 37,000 or thereby. So now you see where Bliar has absolutely no connection to reality.

Told you

NOW today etc etc. Told you someone would turn Queen's Evidence.Told you there would be charges. Told you the Labour Party will take a generation to recover. Told you Brown was a dead duck from day one. Told you they had no principle of any description which is why they have achieved nothing apart from ruining everything.
The next thing will be that NuLabour as such will disappear, and Old Renewed Labour will be back - and out of power forever. The next Government after however many Conservative years will not be Labour. It will be the successor to the Lib Dems as they move further left.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Old England

You may wonder what I am doing blogging on a Saturday, but I am waiting for someone to turn up. I am in London at the Destinations Travel Show today, and I am here for free.
What happened was that as I walked into the main concourse of Earl's Court, a diminutive lady and even more diminutive gentleman approached me.
"Are you going to pay to get into the show?" asked the lady. When I said yes, she promptly gave me a free entry pass. Needless to say I thanked her and we got chatting. Her husband had worked all his life as a shop floor worker somewhere around London. They had raised two children, one now a lawyer the other a nurse. " Made sure they knew what was what and how to mind their Ps and Qs, and they worked hard at University - very proud of them, me and Derek".
They had bought their council house as soon as they were allowed to. " We had the cash, you know, my Derek was always a saver" - Nod from Derek. What were they looking for at the show? " Well, it's mostly a day out," says Daisy ( we were by now on first name terms) " But we used to go to Southend, and I miss it - only been to Spain otherwise."
I asked them if they thought they might be going overseas this year. " Quite fancied a cruise," said Derek. They asked me what I was doing,and I explained I was checking out the show for a possible stand next year. " OOh, you want to do that! Lots of rich people here every year we've been. Ain't that right Derek?" Nod. By now we were inside the show, and I fancied a coffee, so I asked them if they would like one.
"Oh no thank you, dear, FAR too expensive in 'ere. Have one out of my flask" produced out of a bag a bit like Mary Poppins's.
So there I stood, head and shoulders above Daisy and Derek physically, drinking their coffee, and feeling utterly utterly beneath them.
I don't care what politicians say or do, I just want them to remember that they are put there by people like Daisy and Derek.

Friday, February 02, 2007

" My Party is behind me"

Yes it is - pushing

Bliar and Humphrys

I listened with some scepticism to this interview on Radio 4 this morning. Nothing's wrong, the paper's have written a lot of stuff which isn't true, I will answer questions after it's all over, I'm really busy, crime is down, NHS is doing really well, I'm still a pretty straight kind of a guy... yech!! But the man's a genius. There must be many people who still believe in him, and in many ways all he says is true.
I've said it before, if he had only lived up to 10% of the potential he held sway over in 1997, we would all be better off, and happier, healthier and safer.
Unfortunately, NuLabour and Bliar must be the first set of politicians who actually have no basic tenets or principles - apart from getting into power and keeping it. Don't forget he actively courted the LibDems before the 1997 election, just so he could be absolutely certain that if Parliament was hung, he could count on them. Even that looked good to the then electorate. - statesmanlike. Of course, the minute he had his own majority, Paddy Pantsdown never even had his calls returned.
The Tories and Cameron are incredibly lucky that Bliar has behaved as he has. Once in a generation there is a seismic political shift, and this is one.
Don't for one second imagine Brown didn't know anything about the loans. He definitely asked. Of course he did. He's a control freak.His williness meant he didn't write it down, or had anyone else there to hear the answer. A Problem? McCavity's not there.
As light relief, another of the sexual moans from the Vagina Monologues, for a CHAV: " Hmmmmmm - ahhhhhh - oooh... AAAAGH... hang on a minute, I've a text coming in"


You are:Objective, honest, and credible.Intellectually curious, with many diverse interests.More inclined toward ideas than people.Fiercely independent and unapologetically unconventional .
I did some sort of quiz and this is what came out. Not sure I agree entirely, but it certainly gave me a warm feeling.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

P***ing on your own

I must say I never thought I would be mentioning " down there" on this blog, seeing as I am somewhat squirmy in relation to blood, women's troubles etc etc, but last night I was taken by Mrs. Lear and her friend, Mrs. Radio Executive, to see the Vagina Monologues.
The three actresses included Carol Smillie, she of the Dancing and Makeover fame. I laughed and laughed, with that slightly nervous, slightly embarassed edge at most of it, but there were one or two one liners that had me in hysterics. One was a reference to " not your ordinary minge, this is your M & S minge". The other was the description of the Wee Free sexual moan - consisting of a face like thunder, arms and legs crossed, and dead silence. In case you don't know, Wee Frees are a peculiarly intransigent Scottish offshoot of the most Knoxian , dour religious believers. One of the previous Chief Justices, whose name I think was Maclean of Clashfern, was a Wee Free. He attended the funeral of a lifelong friend of his, who happened to be Catholic. He was instantly prevented from attending any further of his Church's services. Forever.
Anyway, this is all a bit of a preamble. There I was, one of 5 men amongst about 1,000 women, and after the interval and the interval drink, I needed to go to the loo.
As you can imagine, there were lines of women for the ladies. I walked confidently to the gents, expecting no problems.
Except the theatre had decided in view of the number of females, they should be allowed to use the gents as well.
Fortunately, they had a (male) member of staff on duty, and when I suggested that not only was I in need but also probably quicker at it than the ladies, he promptly cleared the room, and left me there. Alone.
After this experience, I actually found it quite difficult to pass very much, especially as there was a sort of growl coming from the other side of the door. I hurriedly washed my hands and came out to find the usher, arms outspread, preventing my modesty being undermined. I then had to walk past about 100 extremely scowly ladies who would gladly have skewered me if given the chance. I hurried back to my companions for protection, and the show continued.
The point of all this is that people are always talking about a group of teenagers advancing towards one as being "scary". Believe me, that is as nothing to the feeling of 1000 women staring at you silently.
As a schoolboy, we used to be taken by the school to Stratford to absorb Shakespeare every term. The head of the English department said the same thing every time.
" Individually, you may be quite charming, but en masse you are revolting."
Too right.