Saturday, June 30, 2007

" I feel I can look the East End in the face again...."

Ar last! A terrorist outrage in Glasgow!
It does, of course, have all the hallmarks of Scotland and Glasgow at it's best.
Whatever it was went off too soon, resulting in the perpetrators setting fire to themselves.
Then, when they tried to escape, the locals set about them in no uncertain manner.
And the hero, helping the police by " restraining" a man on fire ( knocked him to the ground and stamped on him.. " Just to try to put the fire out, like")... was then himself restrained by the police.
Ah, the joys. Bit like Scotland's football team. Peaks too soon, buggers up the crucial game, them gets lalldy from the locals.
And, as I say, we Scots can hold our heads up now that we are no longer being ignored by terrorists.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Whatsis name?

It was never hard to figure out what to call Tony Blair. He rapidly became Tone, TB,Blare or Bliar.
However, Gordon Brown is altogether more interesting in the nomenclature department.
We already have Gordo, Clunker, Clunking Fist, Broon ( ah, takes one back to Oor Wullie), son of the manse,GB, Vader and now - dah dah - Flash Gordon. I particularly like this last. He of the flashing smile - makes grown men weep.
I'm sure there will be others ( NuKnox springs to mind, playing on the Presbiterian theme) but I'm equally sure that despite the paens of praise that have been heaped on him, he won't have changed one bit from the dour, dull control freek he is.

What he's REALLY done

What Broon has really done is con everybody yet again.
By bribing various people with future peerages, he has persuaded some to give window dressing to an extremely narrow-minded Governmenet. As Guido says, not one of them has any business experience.Of any kind. So Digby Jones is drafted in to advise on business. Er well, actually, he announced that 6 months ago. So no change in his re-announcement strategy then.
The people in the Cabinet are all extreme second raters. Des Browne? Harman? ( he wouldn't even let her be Deputy Prime Minister). Douglas Alexander?? Jacqui Smith? What great jobs they've all done to date.
The one interesting one is Miliband. He has to be the next Labour Leader.
Even if there is no actual policy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tony's Chip's Shop's

I just passed the above.
I would never have noticed it except for the apostrophes.
Goes two show what yu have two do too get noticed these daze

Setting the VHS recorder....

The Eldest Ms. Lear is presently in America at the second wedding of a friend. As a result, I have been tasked with recording two episodes of the West Wing , the seasons finale of ER and todays PMQs.
So far, despite everything, I have only managed one episode of WW. The seasons finale of ER was blown out the water as we were out and it required actually setting the timer. It was all correct - except the VHS didn't start at all -" sigh".
Even with the help of the middle Ms. Lear, I am incapable of mastering the complexities of such a machine. However, Mrs.Lear just has to press the record button today, so with any luck we should have something on the tape.
The instruction books for these things ( and computers, car radio systems etc etc) are clearly written by technically able people who have a complete lack of ability to express themselves in words of one syllable. Years ago I was told that when programming a computer, you had to put every step in it. So, to scratch your head, you started with " Move hand upwards, followed by arm - crook finger - locate itchy bit..." you get the picture.
Infortunately, the manuals don't do this. They give names to things about which I have no idea and which are certainly not called that on the machines.
I'm sure there is a business in people going round houses to sort out elderly people like me.
Alternatively, the neighbours' 5 year old could do it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

LibDem demise

I see the polls are now reflecting my belief that the LibDems will effectively disappear after the next election. The Fist is clearly doing his best to split the party, believing that the fall out will benefit him more than the Tories.
He should be careful. The era of clever political spin and manipulation is over. Only truthful and straightforward people with principles will hack it in the future. There is an enormous disgust with politicians in general, which David Cameron is doing his best to counteract. NuLabour and the Libdems have not so far addressed this issue ( OK they have mouthed a few platitudes, but they haven't done anything).
I particularly liked the interview with the Fist during which, when asked if he had offered Paddy Ashdown a cabinet job after being blanked by Ming, replied " That is a complete travesty and misrepresentation of what actually happened". So, er, what did happen? Everyone, include PA, seem to think it's what DID happen.
No spin there then.

The West Lothian Question

In British Politics today there is actually a much more important question than the above. Political people think TWLQ really important, and has ramifications for the Union.
I, on the other hand, subscribe to the notion that the man in the street cares far more about micro-matters. Jim Hacker's British Sausage is a case in point. European constitution? Too boring. Bananas the wrong shape? Ho,hum. Can't call it a sausage anymore? OUTRAGE!
So it is with outrage and disgust that I report the Sporran Question.
I'm sure many people will have spotted that the Endangered Species Act means that you have to have a certificate of purity ( for lack of a better expression) if you own an animal skin of an endangered species. Apparently, this includes badgers.
I only know two things about badgers. One is if you put two males together, one will kill and eat the other. The second is that David Archer got into trouble for killing badgers that were infecting his herd with TB.
Now, however, the traditional covering for the sporran is under threat. If you wear one, you will require a certificate.
As far as I know, noone makes them with badger fur any more. ( Let me know if I am wrong). So the only people with proper badger sporrans probably got them from their fathers or grandfathers. In Scottish society, one's clothes in general are NOT new. A new Barbour is the quickest way never to be asked back to a shoot.
So when the next society wedding takes place, what are the Boys in Blue to do? If they have any sense, they will do what they ought to do for 90 odd% of NuLabours completely shambolic legislative programme, and what they have largely done over the foxhunting ban - ignore it.
I would march in support of Badger Sporrans. And this from a man who does not even have a kilt - at least not since I was 8.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Those Polish plumbers

Actually, it's Polish builders I am waiting for.
But I'm quite impressed with their set-up. They are VAT registered with an office, pay tax and everything. The fact I can't communicate with them doesn't really seem to matter as a few hand signals in the general direction of the problem seems to suffice.
They say they will put down dust sheets and everything, so we shall see.
The dearth of people to do odd-jobs is manifest in the fact that the minute their van appeared, all our tenants in our office building rushed to book them up for all sorts of things - not necessarilly for themselves, but for a friend who has been looking for " simply ages" for a wee man to DO something.
Rather like the Government really. We've all been waiting months for Bliar to get out the way, and now we have Brown & Harman.
Guido has a very good Youtube post, showing a young lady immediately behind Harman, saying a few choice swear words and hiding her head in her hands when the result was announced.
Can't help but feel we will all be doing much the same shortly.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The value of my Blog

Prague Tory has a clickthrough on his site which suggests his is worth some $76,000.
According to the clearly inaccurate programme, mine is worth $0.00

Friday, June 22, 2007

Making a difference

I'm just back from Romania again, after a series of meetings intended to bring micro-funding to rural areas in Transylvania.
This would be under the banner of possibly the only good thing the EU has ever done, called Leader Action Groups or LAGs. In essence local people in rural areas decide what they want to happen to improve their area. The groups are made up of roughly a third each of town halls, businesses and associations. The associations can be anything from sports teams to knitting circles. The funding is about 50/50 with the EU, so the locals have to provide 50%, and the individual projects are typically Eur 20-40,000.
In Mosna ( it of the wonderful Mayor) we had visiting LAG administrators from Finland, where they have had LAGs for more than 10 years. The range of projects is astonishing - everything from creating bus stops out of old milk depots to bringing business men out of the city so they understand better the problems of rural locations. Although individually the projects are quite small, typically over a 5 year period there will be 80-100 in each LAG area, so investment of up to Eur 4million. Finland's LAGs spent nearly Eur 250million in the last period. For sure they were the first Finns in quite a lot of the places we took them to.
It all went very well and hopefully things will move forward. Nothing is quick in Romania - even making out an invoice takes about 10 minutes - but the LAG has about 40 members, an office, equipment and so on - but no manager yet. He will get about Eur 400 per month - enough to attract a graduate.
Of course, the main object of the excericse was the eating and drinking, and 70 people sat down to dinner after the first day. We had slow food - goat stew cooked for over 10 hours, washed down with copious quantities of the local wine ( neither red nor white and not quite rose either). Utterly delicious. Then wonderful cakes and tarts made with local fruits, and a local liqueur made from forest fruits, almost black and full of surprising tastes. Cost for as much as you could eat and drink? About £3 per person.
Lots of lovely little things. Romania is a macho society. Waitresses habitually pour men their drinks first in mixed company, but the waiters pour ladies' first. A car hire contract specifies that the car has to be returned having been washed. The car hire lady says " You don't need to bother about that - its already dirty." A car with a California numberplate - turned out to be Romanian's who had been working in the States and shipped their car back. Having a meeting in a bar, and an old lady standing outside listening to what was being said. When asked to move on she said" I just wanted to make sure you were doing things properly". Another lady handing a scrap of paper to the mayor of Mosna when he visited a small village in his area called Nemsa. It was a petition about something and she had no way of getting to the Mayor as she could not afford the fare. When he asked her why she hadn't ridden on one of the many horse-drawn vehicles that criss-cross the area, she replied " It would not be right to come to the Town Hall in a haycart" and was quite indignant at the thought. Asking for salad in a village eatery and being told that the boss had said no salads were to be sold as the distinguished visitors could certainly afford something more expensive. We paid the higher price and had the salad, which produced an ecstatic response from the boss.
I just love the area, and it means something to me to be doing something for them.
And now a cautionary tale:
The village of Cris ( Pronounced Krish) is beautifully set in a valley with a proper road to it. The village and its valley are dominated by a wonderful XIV -XVIII century castle. Germanic on one side, it has all the attributes of a Chateau on the Loire on the other. The whole area and its castle was owned by the Bethlen Princes, fabulously rich in their day.
They had fallen on hard times even before WW2, and when the Communists came, they all fled. The castle was looking pretty ropey by then.But even the Red Army understood the importance of the castle, and it was beautifully maintained up until Ceacescu's fall.
Almost immediately the descendants of the Bethlens claimed back the castle, and under the laws of the land, they were handed it back.
Thereafter, with no money to maintain it, it fell into sad disrepair. A French charity ( because of the Loire connection) redid much of it about 5 years ago, but it remains empty, crumbling & dead. It would make a fantastic hotel - but you would need about Eur 20million to do it up, and the Bethlen's have resisted all efforts to buy it from them - er, well actually not, they want Eur 20million for it and the value is probably about Eur 1m.
So capitalism is not always a good thing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Britain's Hitlerian State

One of my pet hobby horses for some time has been our NuLabour master's attempts to emulate Hitler.
Don't believe me? I ran a few examples a while ago ( fabricating evidence for war etc etc) but there has been much more in the last wee while.
Quite apart from the subborning of judges, the attorney general and the entire justice system ( and good on the judges saying they would have nothing to do with it) we now have that lynchpin of Nazi Aryan policy - castration.
OK I know it's only chemical, but Hitler and his pals had a policy which was aimed at social misfits and people of sub-normal intelligence. Not up to snuff? Don't want any more of youdo we? CASTRATE! STERILISE!
One of the most poignant and telling scenes from Judgement at Nuremburg was when the defence attorney( Maximilian Schell) verbally cornered the castrated witness ( I think it was MontgomeryClift, but would stand to be corrected) and showed he was in fact a child abuser of below average intelligence. The point was being of low intelligence was not grounds for castration, but child abuse was. I know the present proposals are "only voluntary" but they are going to be available to more people and er, well, we expect it to be a great success - especially if by accepting the castration you get your sentence reduced or your identity kept secret.
I haven't seen "Taking Liberties" but I just bet even non-political and Labour Loving Lefties are finding it a bit uncomfortable.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bard in the Botanics

This is a blatant plug for Bard in the Botanics in the Kibble Palace in Glasgow's Botanic Gardens in the West End. Please give generously or at least go to see a performance. It's well worth it, and quite fun.

Theatreland - by Gordon Barr, Artistic Director of the Glasgow Repertory Company

Glasgow offers a great deal for audiences and theatre practitioners alike. A variety of venues offer so many different forms of art and always the room for new opportunities. It’s a busy, vibrant city, which is constantly growing and offering bigger and better opportunities for anyone who lives here. The Glasgow Repertory Company is a prime example of a new venture that Glasgow has taken firmly to its heart. Established in 2002, each year of our Bard in the Botanics Festival has proved more successful than the last with audiences regularly reaching over 10,000 to see our Shakespeare in the park performances. Glasgow is a perfect venue for Bard in the Botanics and Glasgow Rep because its audiences are very tuned in to Glasgow’s cultural life and accept and celebrate it as a real asset for the city. Our actors and production staff have a real passion for the work that we do and really put their heart and soul into each production. This is something I believe is reflected in the reaction that we get from the public.
Glasgow audiences are the sole reason for the phenomenal success of Glasgow Rep – their acceptance, their warmth and their resilience have allowed the festival to become such a hit in a short space of time. We regularly have productions that are completely sold out before the opening night and, regardless of the weather, our audiences still keep coming. Where else would over 3,000 people brave one of the worst summer nights in recent memory to watch an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

Deleted through boredom

Tapestry Talks - who disappears occasionally and then has a flurry of activity - has a post today about Bliar signing us up for the New EU Constitution. No referendum, no Parliamentary debate, no nothing. His arguement is that this effectively ends Britain as a Sovereign State.
This would be true, I think, except that to a large extent we are already circumscribed in what we can do. I'm not sure anyone,anywhere is any freer than we are. Most other places are much worse, and I have to say I would rather be a French, German, Dutch, Spanish ( you get the idea) rather than eg a Turkish citizen. Did I mention they want to join us?
What I do think is important is the fact there has been no debate. The EU is so boring, as TT says, that we ignore it. It's " over there" and nothing to do with us.
Except it is.
I no longer know where I would rather live than Scotland. I used to know. It was France.
I'm not so sure anymore.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Been in Moraira

Mrs. Lear and myself, along with Mrs. Lear's friend The Hospital Visitor have just spent a couple of days near Alicante.
Everything was simply wonderful, and we had several pleasant - and inebriated -meals with friends who live there.
As I don't sit IN the sun, but merely in the shade watching things go by, I have plenty of time for thought whilst everyone else burns.
The main one was that builders are the same the world over - whistling at pretty girls.
The second was that I thought it entirely appropriate that Sir Terence Wogan had become a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire.
Lastly, I have been reading a couple of books about French and Italian collaboration.
The French had a large number of people who were anti-semitic ( Darquier de Pellepoix, Bousquet) and actively helped the Nazis. French Jews were sent to Auschwitz by French policemen. De Gaulle, " We are one nation - we all resisted" made a cardinal error in not allowing the sins to be atoned. Still in parts of France families don't speak to each other.
The Italians were never anti-Jewish as such. Many French Jews hid in the bits of France the Italians annexed after 1940. Once the Salo government in Italy came to power ( Nazi puppets) the Nazis sought Jews in Italy - not Italians. They had a different attitude to the French. As one policeman put it about his superior " He was a party member, but it was not in his heart. I didn't expect him to enforce all the laws, just those we had to to survive."
I think this difference continues today. Italians bend with the wind, and survive. The French are inflexible, and appear to be going to have many more problems in the future than the pliable Italians.
Germany and Italy lost their Fascist regimes in 1945.
Spain only lost hers in 1977.
Anagram of the day: ISNT A TENOR = STENTORIAN

Friday, June 01, 2007

In London...

... things go from bad to worse. Two meetings delayed by 90 minutes because the tube stopped. In a tunnel. For 90 minutes. The second one was an accident at Earls Court Road and Cromwell Road. Complete gridlock. No alternative routes. Minimum an hour to get anywhere. Thankfully, I live in Glasgow where people complain if they get held up at traffic lights for more than 60 seconds.
More importantly, it seems to me that, along with the slowing of traffic, the business life, whilst ever more hectic, gets less and less done. I suppose a lot is to do with the back-side covering that goes on,but it is very refreshing when something works. I had one meeting on Thursday afternoon, due for 3:30. I got a text telling me the other party were in place by 3pm, which meant I could grab half an hour at the end of the day. I went with a friend for a drink to the Berkley. They have a lovely bar called, I think, the Blue Room, with a huge cigar humidifier in it. Lots of people were buying extremely expensive killers and smoking them in situ.
They won't be doing that after 1st July.
Anangram of the day:MINCE? HOW? = CHOWMIEN