Tuesday, July 31, 2007

DC and loyalty

What's this all about? Tories altready having a go at whatever chance we have of winning the next election?
There is a distinct difference between the Old Tory Party ( which has lost the last three elections, and would certainly lose the next one) and the New Tory Party. The old guard need to realise that Labour's policies, however much we dislike them, are clearly not at odds with the general mood of the country. Afer all, if all you do is appease everyone and knee-jerk react to situations, you are seen to be doing something. Actually, you are not, but the perception is that you are. So what's not to like?
The Tories need a Clause 4 moment. Labour so desperately wanted power in 1997, that they would have done anything to achieve it - and that included speaking with one voice " on message" and dumping unpopular policies.
So don't deride DC for sounding somewhat vague. Vague keeps people on side until a policy is promulgated.
And don't behave like Ali Miraj and the Chairwoman of Newark Conservative association ( see http://www.dizzythinks.net/) .
Tell the Conservatives what YOU think. Listen to what they have to say.
And maybe - just maybe - David Cameron WILL be the next Prime Minister of Great Britain

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ze Tchermans und der senz of humour!

We have had several friends staying with us, all to attend the othello on Friday night.
One of them recently back from Germany and relates the following.
Having nothing to do one Saturday night, he decided to go to the cinema. He was astonished to see that the film " U-571" was showing. It tells the story of the Americans hijacking a U-boat, capturing an Enigma machine, and so winning the war.
Yes, well.
Anyway, much to his astonishment, it was dubbed into German, and all went well ( if totally inaccurate historically) until the Americans, having captured the sub, had to make a crash dive as the Kriegsmarin closed in.
"Wie tief sind wir?" ( Translation: how deep are we?) screamed the Yankee captain.
" Ich weiss nicht - es ist in Deutsch beschreiben!" ( Translation: I don't know, it's written in German)
He swears the audience continued laughing for the rest of the film.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Othello and Bard in the Botanic

We held a private party in the Kibble Palace last night, to see the excellent Othello by Bard in the Botanics ( http://www.bardinthebotanics.org/) . It's already sold out, and the success engendered this year will surely help with sales and future sponsorship for next year.
Two of the guests were of a senior military sort.
By way of conversation, I asked one what he thought of the military dimension to the play.
The two Commanders of Men looked at each other knowingly.
" Well, " said the senior " Pretty scruffy looking lot."
" Indeed," said the other. " But pretty much what one would expect from a bunch of Italians."
" Yes," said the senior. " Much rather fight them than the Germans"
I can't help but think our military are a touch behind the times.

Eric Muhe

I read with regret that this fine East German actor had died.
He played the Stassi man who became human in " The lives of Others" , an excellent film I mentioned some time ago.
In real life he had been persecuted until the fall of the wall, as an anti-government actor and activist. In making the film, he must have often thought of the things that had happened to him, which, I'm sure, made his acting and portrayal utterly brilliant.
He died of cancer at a relatively young age, perhaps brought on by his sufferings. I mourn his passing.
But we have friends staying who are nothing if not stalwart Tories. When I mentioned that Muhe's early death was probably brought on by his suffering at the hands of the East German Government, my friend said " Goes to show that Socialism gives you cancer."
Certainly, if the incidence of cancer in Scotland and Glasgow in particular are anything to go by, he is not wrong.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Death of two hedgehogs

I read the following in Money Week today.:
" The Department for Environment etc ( DEFRA) has run up a bill of £50,000 for taxpayers over the alleged wrongful deaths of two hedgehogs. DEFRA said the animals were poisoned by Great Yarmouth Council, despite having no back-up from either the RSPCA or police. After a FOUR DAY trial, the judge threw the case out. DEFRA's wildlife adviser was forced to admit there was no conclusive evidence the hedgehogs had been killed by poison. Robert Whiley, the pest controller who had laid the poison in a pensioner's garden after she complained of rats, denied recklessly distributing it. When his level of training was questioned, he said " I've been on more courses than Lester Piggot."
I think several points emerge from this.
1) Judges in general retain their independence and common sense.
2) The Government and DEFRA in particular are complete morons, to whom OUR money is water through their fingers.
3) Robert Whiley has been on a number of pest control courses.
4) DEFRA, despite presumably having Government Laboratories at it's beck and call, couldn't prove there was any poison in the hedgehogs.
and finally 5) There are rats in Yarmouth.
I don't actually think any of this should come as a surprise to anyone. I am particularly enamoured of our judges, who seem to be that last bastion against the government and the taxman ( viz. Arctic case the other day).
If only there was more common sense around.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Proactive recycling in Scotland's southern counties

This is complete plagiarism, but I just love the story.
We have a friend staying, helping sort out various IT issues. As I was driving him into town today, he told me of the village near Bristol, which had had metal flood defences installed some years ago. After they had twice been stolen ( hence " proactive recycling" in the words of the council spokesperson), it was decided they should be stored in a place of safety, and only installed when a flood threatened.
So last week, it was decided the time had come. The plan was in place, the equipment was ready, the transport was laid on, the critical path analysis was in place. It only remained to move the barriers and install them.
Alas, by the time this had all been done, the barriers could not reach the relevant location.
The roads leading to the installation site were already under 8ft. of water. So the town ended up being flooded out again.
As with so many things with this present government, the law of unintended consequences struck again.
PS we have our first flood refugees arriving tonight. Apart from the motorway gunk they will presumably have eaten on the way north, the coq au vin being prepared for them will be their first hot meal in 5 days.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

James Cleverly's Mum

James has had to come back from his hols, because his Mum was taken ill with a chest infection, which she did not survive.
The only two things absolutely sure in life are taxes and death, but I certainly do my best to mitigate the former.
My father predeceased my mother by some 14 years. When she died, for the first time ever, I actually felt grown-up. There wasn't anyone above me. There was just me.
Three things come back to me from that time.
The first is that my mother had got dressed in her new Basler suit, put on her makeup, done her hair and then dropped dead. We decided to bury her in the (extremely smart) new suit, only to discover the credit card bill with the purchase on it.
When I told a Godfather of mine of her decease, he said " Well, if it was a big day, your mother would surely have been looking her best".
The last thing was the funeral. Mother was never one for being morbid and morose, and the funeral in a small Lancashire town reflected that. Afterwards, I thanked the minister, only to be told, in a broad Yorkshire accent," It were a bit light for a funeral, in my view"
Mum would have been delighted.

Out of the blue

I got a phone call the other day from someone I knew had left the country.
He had a few problems some years back and he scarpered to avoid retribution in spades, not only from the police but a few other people as well.
He was calling from Glasgow, he said. He had popped back because his old Mum was ill and he wanted to see her before she died. He wouldn't be going to the funeral, as people would be looking for him. They'd never think he would be back before, and probably didn't even know she was ill.
Why he called me was a complete mystery, except he and I had always got on well, and, in so far as I trust anyone, I had trusted him. One might say there is honour amongst thieves. In some small way I had helped him when he first went overseas, but, on reflection, I had probably heard nothing from him for more than 15 years.
He was doing well. He had not had loads of money when he went, but he had managed to make a life for himself. He was married with two kids. They were very happy. He regretted his earlier life. He blamed the people he went about with in the late 80's. They were still looking for him.
This last was hardly surprising, as he had left depositions for the Procurator Fiscal about the activities of certain gentlemen.But he had left before any trials as he knew he would never survive day one.
He thanked me for my small service. He said he would buy me a drink if we ever met again, but failed to tell me where he was.
It was an interesting conversation, and it set me thinking.
It makes no difference what happens, life goes on.
Unless you're dead of course.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Scotland the What?

I have written before about this since disbanded group of comedians from Rhynnie outside Aberdeen. Not only was their speech almost incomprehensible, their belief that Rhynnie was the centre of the Universe made them a very endearing act.
I was reminded of them yesterday as I walked along the cliffs at Dunure near Ayr. We had had an excellent lunch outside at the pub. We were taking a constitutional for our health ( and the dog's). The sun was blazing down ( really) so strongly that the suntan cream was doing the rounds.
And I thought to myself, if only the weather was reasonably stable and like this a bit more of the time, noone would ever leave Scotland.
At which point we walked past a parked car where the people inside were setting up their own BBQ. I could not understand a word that was being said. I decided they might be Polish. Or Latvian. Or anything.
And then I noticed the car number plate. From Aberdeenshire. I couldn't resist asking if they knew Rhynnie.
" Aye.Centre of the Universe " I think he said.
So it's everyone there then.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Man who said he could be there for 9am.

We have a friend staying who decided, after a year of not asking, that he would quite like to get back some of the money the British Government took from him. I refer, of course, to the dole, or, as we say not in Jockshire but in SCOTLAND - the Broo. This is lingua franca for The Bureau, short for the Employment Bureau, which is what everyone used to call the offices now called - who knows, but the place you go to sign on if you are out of a job.
He carefully phoned for an appointment, and was told there was a long waiting list. After some discussion - and reluctance on the part of the person supposed to give him some of his own money back - a date one week after the phone call, was agreed.
Because he decided to visit us, he phoned again to say he would be unable to come on the appointed date. More than a certain amount of belligerence was expressed, especially as he justified his non-appearance because he intended to look for a job in Glasgow.
" You'll need to bring proof, otherwise we can't help you" said the harridan. After some more fruitless discussion, my friend put the 'phone down, and rang back five minutes later.
" I want to apply for jobseekers allowance," he said, disguising his normal mellifluent tones with some difficulty. He says it was worse than Mel Gibson in Braveheart.
" There's a very long waiting list -have you applied before?"
"No" Sharp intake of breath at the other end of the phone.
" It'll be at least two or three weeks. What time could you come in?"
" What time do you open?" " 9am"
" That's fine I'll come in at 9am"
" Seriously? You could come in at 9am?" " Yes"
" Oh, well, you could come in any day you like - even tomorrow. Noone ever comes in before 11"
Now in theory, if you have to sign on, it appears you get a letter saying you have to be there for 9am. But noone ever is.
And these are people with no jobs and nothing to do. I hate to think when someone who actually did have something to do would turn up.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Manzilla Foundation

I received a txt msge yesterday afternoon."Come to the opening of the exhibition at 7pm Artentrepreneur".Artie is the son of friends of ours, who has managed to create an impressive arts empire in an old whisky bond. By the way, www.whisky.com is presently in an auction of domain names, and is sitting at $200,000 if you want to make a bid.
Anyway, Mrs. Lear and I have a friend staying, so we thought it a good idea to take him along to see what Le Tout Glasgow has to offer.
The art itself was not overly wonderful, apart from a circle made from straight vertical lines ( weird but true) which I thought would look good in the corridor of a building we are doing up.
However, the performance art group - The Manzilla Foundation - were rather fun. Two men and a girl - one leading a Saluki - extolled the joys of artists rising like a Phoenix from the ashes, and handed out envelopes.
When I read the contents, I immediately thought it was a brilliant idea. It plainly stated that the MF would take away any art that the owner wished destroyed, certify it had been burned, and produce a piece of paper to that effect for presentation.I thought what a brilliant way of raising money for the Artentrepreneur! I just bet there are many who would like to destroy a lot of the work he sells.
As one of the paintings in the show I particularly disliked, I decided I would buy it and present it for destruction.
Fortunately, I decided to check to cost of the actual destruction process before proceeding.
The MF person I asked was horrified. I had completely misunderstood the whole thing. The idea was that an Artist might be having eg writing block or creative block, and it might be his/her previous work was holding her/him back. The MF only undertook to destroy an Artist's own work, and at that Artist's request.
Can't help thinking Mr.Artie has missed a trick.


I came across http://www.jockshire.com/ - I've tried to put a link it, but as the resident non-tecky I can't get it to work. I'll wait for someone to turn up and do it for me.
Anyway, outrageously, it refers to where I live as " England's northernmost county"
We're not! We're a country on our own with some autonomy.The interesting thing is that despite the promulgator of this site's apparent disdain, by calling us this, he implies there is and should be a UNITED KINGDOM.
But the author does have a point when he mentions the West Lothian question. I think he intends that the Loth bit ( read LOATHE) makes his point. Unfortunate, too, that for every crossword compiler ever born, the clue containing the word "Scot" always ends up being IAN - slightly esoteric I know, but true none the less ( loathe a Scot - geddit?).
Certainly, per head of population, we provide more forces personnel than any other part of the UK. And more Labour voters, heart attacks and pious cant. We do defeat much better than the English, something I have always found endearing. Bill Shankly's " Football is more important than life or death" sums us up almost perfectly.
In a recent survey ( reinforced by the Holyrood Election results) more of us Jocks wanted to separate from England. Many more English want rid of us. If we are to be treated as just another English County ( something that Jack McConnel effectively did, which lost him the election) then maybe we should declare UDI. Alex Salmond and his team are presently making all political parties look cack-handed and out of touch.
The one thing we lack in our homeland is irony. Enthusiasm, pride,aggression, self-belief and self-doubt in equal measure, and passion we have in spades, but not irony.
I was reminded of this yesterday when, parked and waiting for a friend, I was beside a Big Issue seller. He did a brilliant marketing job, and within a few minutes had clearly collected about £10 or so. Without a moment's hesitation he nipped into the bookies next door to place a bet. I saw him do this about four times.
Think about that next time a ( non) homeless person urges you to buy a load of drivel.

P.S. I particularly like the picture at the top of Jockshire - a wet window. Whilst I would normally agree, we have, mercifully, not been flood out, unlike SCOTLAND'S SOUTHERNMOST COUNTIES.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


From 7am yesterday morning I was walking over fields and hills, checking maps against physical contours and landmarks, taking photos to tie in with marks on the maps. By the time we finished at 2pm we were all seriously exhausted, but we had mapped out an area we wanted to buy to plant trees, create a fishery and recreational lake.
It's a most beautiful valley, just beside Mosna. It abounds with thousands of butterflies, birds and flora. We are only using a tiny part of it, so anyone who wants to see the sights I did yesterday can go anytime. One was of about 1,000 small blues and grizzled skippers dancing,whirling and alighting, only to shoot away again. Fantastic.
The rest of the day was spent checking titles against the maps, getting people to sign precontracts and generally doing all the dull and uninteresting stuff that you can't leave to chance.
Most of the land we are buying is derelict in the sense that it is no longer worked - the owners have long disappeared to Germany or into the towns - and our hope is that by giving employment, it will bring people back to the villlages. Or at least encourage them to stay.
All bar two of the people signing yesterday were young people who had inherited the land from their parents or grandparents. They had no interest in keeping it. They no longer had any connections with Mosna or the villages round about. They just wanted the money.
There were two old men , no longer able to work, both well into their '80s, who were selling. The first was going to move to the local town where his children all lived, and the money would help with that move.
The other was a wonderful character and man of honour. He looked every inch like a Roman Senator. But inwardly I was crying whilst he signed the papers.
He had three daughters. They all lived in Canada and America. He hadn't seen them for more than fifteen years. He had never seen his grandchildren, although he had photographs of them. I asked if he had any plans for the money. No, he said, he would probably just have an extra glass of wine or two. In any case he had a bad heart and probably wouldn't last long anyway.
Our buying the land from the old people ( rather than the younger ones) triggers a payment from the State of Eur 100 per year per hectare. The idea is to consolidate the ( very small and scattered) areas around villages. Overall therefore, our buying his land was going to represent quite a significant increase in his standard of living.
But I felt heart-sore for him. I have three daughters too, and I thought, perhaps for the first time ever, about what being old and alone really meant.
It isn't nice.
So go out today and try and find an old person to be nice to.
I promise it will make you feel better.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My way of Life...

I'm back in Transylvania again in the most glorious weather.
I just love it here. I love the way everyone tells me to be careful of everyone else as they are crooks. It's the Yorkshireman's cry of " I worry about everyone except thee and me and I sometimes worry about thee."
This has been, so far, the most interesting visit yet.
I got the keys for our new ( read 1796) office/flat and have put in train various changes.
Cleaning it for a start.
Anyway, with a bit of luck when I come back next month it will be a) habitable and b) useable.
I've been interviewed by some Romanian TV Channel, and three times by journalists, all in connection with the LAG ( qv) and now the EcoMuseum project (see below). Two very nice Welsh ladies, one older one younger, who were in the area doing research for a play they want to write about immigrant workers in UK, heard about me and Alin my translator, and asked to meet for an interview. We scheduled them in for 30 minutes, only to find that the mobiles started ringing to demand why weren't we in Biertan. We looked at our watches to discover that nearly two hours had gone past. Just as an aside, this shows that turning up 2 hours late in Romania is not unusual.
The EcoMuseum project is most interesting. In effect, 6 villages have clubbed together to form a living testimony to the Saxon past in the area. The LAG has set aside one room in its offices in Mosna as a starting point for the tour ( brochures, maps,guides etc) and from there you will be able to visit various places. We did a tiny bit today ( the dignitaries were more interested in the food and drink to come). It included the Mosna Church and Citadel, the first place Prince Charles wanted to visit in Romania. To the house set aside for the LAG and EcoMuseum , then on to a Saxon ( still in use) corn mill, a working farm, and the oldest house in the village with beams date marked 1794. A small libation was taken in each of the wine made by the owner, water was drunk from the wells, honey from the honey combs, tomatoes from the gardens and then it was time for the feast.
It took place in the kindergarten school. 60 of us sat down to pork and vegetable sour soup ( sounds dreadful but is truly delicious) with wine, plum brandy and a glass of water for the wimps. The main course called ( I think) Sambals, is pork and rice wrapped in cabbage, and served with cabbage. Sounds dreadful but is utterly wonderful to eat.
Of course there were some speeches ( including one from me saying how happy I was and delighted to be invited) which resulted in a kiss on both cheeks from all the men present. None of the women bothered - or maybe they weren't allowed to. The local choir master rendered a Romanian paen of praise to the mayors present.
Amidst all this, Alin, myself and our advisor on matters sylvan, managed to look over some land, agree a price for it, agree to meet with another 12 potential vendors on monday, and get the car washed. This last was very important, as it gave the three of us about 10 minutes to gather our thoughts and plan the next bit.
At the feast I sat next to a man who had been at a thing called Globefest in Budapest, organised by the person who drove a tractor through a McDonalds, and went to jail for it to make his point.The theme of the "fest" was " Which way IS forward". I think this is increasingly a very important point, particularly in places like Romania. It seems to me to be unlikely that our very advanced society IS going to go forward in any meaningful way for billions of people on Planet Earth.
Transylvania,despite it's many problems, does not show any of the angst, jealousy and envy visible anywhere in the UK. Even the poorest, living on the equivalent of Eur100 per month, are clothed, fed and housed - and apparently happy. How many in the UK on 20 or 30 times this amount can say they really are happy?
The reason we were to be in Biertan was to meet a fantastic lady who paid for the children of poor people to be educated. That sounds very grand, but it only consisted in her giving them the bus fare each day to the main town - about Eur 50 per child per year. She had no money herself. She begged, borrowed and shamed anyone and everyone to give her money. If anything, she is a Rosa Luxembourg staunch Communist, but in the true tradition of sharing. If there were more like her, Romania would be the best educated country in Europe.
She told me a story about when she got married. In fact, she didn't mean married in the religious sense, she meant bedded. She has stayed with the man for 35 years and they have children.
The reason they never married was that her "husband" had elderly parents who had a flat, and she had a small flat as well. If they had married, there would have been two flats with one surname between them, and blood-related people in each.
At that time in Romania, such a situation meant that the second flat had to be given back to the state. No ifs no buts.
As she says ." We still have a hard life, but we are free."
I wish we appreciated freedom as much.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lost 'phone

Whilst at the Bard on Sunday afternoon, a lady started wandering around waving a mobile phone " Anyone lost one?"
As she seemed somewhat lost herself, I took the phone off her and phoned O2 - the network provider in this case. Luckily, the mobile's number was written on the back. They couldn't help - it was against company policy to give out the names of mobile owners - even though I was phoning from the number concerned.
So I started to phone the people in the stored numbers. I asked if they recognised the number. The first two said they didn't and had no idea who it could be.
The third said: " Oh my God! What's happened?" When I calmed him down I told him it was a lost mobile, and, from his reaction, I assumed he knew who it was.
" Hang on hang on!" he shreeked," I'll need to read the number again!" There was a pause, followed by some muttering.
" Er ..actually I have no idea whose number it is" - end of conversation.
So I went into previously dialled numbers and dialled the first one. Fortunately, my enquiry was met with a calm man's voice, who opined it was his mother's number, her name was Mrs.X, and she was at the do with a Mrs.Y.
It transpired Mrs.X had gone home, but Mrs.Y was still there and promised to return the phone to her.
However, the non-recognition of the numbers set me thinking. It was a pretty old 'phone, with odd bits of cellotape on it. My eventual conclusion was that whoever had owned the phone before had stored numbers in it, but that Mrs. X had never deleted them. The old phone owner would have given his mates his new number, so they wouldn't recognise the old one on their screens.
I could have spent all afternoon contacting the stored numbers to no effect.


I wrote a while ago, before Flash, that there was a sense of drift and stasis in the country.
I accept that the attempted bombings and other matters have somewhat interrupted various agendas, but I don't sense any great directional impulse.
I am reading Fantasy Island at the moment, which I daresay is influencing my thoughts, but there does not seem to be anything "new" going on. If anything, the Tories committees reporting over the next few months is arguably the most interesting thing happening.
France under Sarko is certainly girding her loins, whilst Germany has slowly but surely been plodding along. I am always amused at Flash's insistence that these two countries are " in trouble" because of their refusal to adhere to the new Anglo-Saxon business principles . My goodness, they still make things! How old fashioned! Except Germany is still the largest exporter in the world, and the French are getting along pretty well too.
We ,on the other hand, are over-indebted, oversupplied with non-productive council and government " workers", and have no world class businesses apart from pharmaceuticals. And they will probably leave soon for the good old US of A where the real money is.
So what's to do? It seems Flash has no real new ideas. He may have intended to announce a blizzard of initiatives, and may yet do so, but it can only be more of the same. They don't have principles. They have the desire for control.
So I await with interest the Tories results. At least it represents some debate and thought.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lazin' on a summer afternoon....

I had a lovely Sunday afternoon, sitting in the sun, having a picnic and watching a rather good rendition of Midsummer Night's Dream.
It was all in the aid of charity, and the cast of Bard in Botanics ( http://www.bardinthebotanics.org/) gave their time and afternoon off for free ( NB all contributions gratefully accepted).
Apart from the fact they performed exceptionally well, our Director, Gordon, had done a brilliant job of having only 5 actors. It certainly kept our brains in gear, as Hermia also played Titania,Oberon etc etc - you get the idea. It was a pretty physical performance which used a lot of tricks to make the audience understand what was happening. Everyone enjoyed it.


Even more interesting is going to be Othello with only 5 actors, from next week. I can't help but feel small acting companies are the way forward. The London Theatres are presently swamped with musicals, who have the big budgets and the pulling power. We need a counterbalance or The Theatre, as we know it in this country, will eventually disappear.


After my mentioning the day WWII broke out, the youngest Ms. Lear,who clearly does not have enough to do, emailed me the following:

To add to your anniversary and birthday: my birthday marks the day in 1936 when Germany occupied the Rhineland, breaching the Treaty of Versailles. On the Eldest Ms.Lear's birthday the first gas murder experiment were conducted at Auschwitz and on Mrs. Lear's birthday the the Germans occupied the remaining bits of Czechoslovakia.

Clearly Middle Ms. Lear is innocent of all charges.

UPDATE: Eldest Ms. Lear has opined that the MOST appalling thing about her birthday is she shares it with Cherie Blair - or Booth.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

See You Jimmy

With all the praise for the taxi-driver who knocked the balls off the flaming terrorist the other day, I was reminded of an incident many years ago after a Scotland- England football match at the old Wembley.
I was driving back to Scotland and stopped in , I think, Harrow to get something to eat. As It was about half past nine at night, the only thing open was a Chinese Carryout. Inside were numerous people waiting for their orders, amongst whom were four quiet and well behaved Scots, reading their Daily Records, and commiserating with each other - Scotland had lost, I think, 3-0. They informed anyone in the assembled English company that would listen that " Aye, yer boys were good. Good match - could have gone either way."
Their number was called and they collected their bag of food. They had already paid ( a requirement in that place), and Jimmy checked the contents.
" Where's ma Chinese roll?"
You could have heard a pin drop in the shop.
The young Chinese girl serving was unabashed.
" You no order."
" Aye I bluidy did! An' paid 50p fer it an aw!"
At which point, his pal said " Leave it Jimmy, it's no worth it." - and out the shop they went, to sighs of relief all round. Conversations even started.
Until ten seconds later Jimmy came charging back in. Everyone tried to make themselves disappear into the walls, and Jimmy gripped the counter, leaning aggresively into the Chinese girl's face.
"It's no the 50p!. It's the principle o' the thing!" And he began to make his way out.
Half way to the door he stopped and turned. He was clearly trying to think of something to show he was a big man, to whom the 50p was a mere trifle.
" See, " he said," Its the principle. Why, I've spent more than 50p on... on.." nothing came out for a few seconds, and then enlightenment dawned. "... crisps!"
And out he went, head held high.
We are a proud race.

That PMQs

I didn't watch it at the time ( although Mrs. Lear did).
From what I have seen and read, Brown is exhausted already. He stuttered. He twitched. He needs to train up.
But more importantly, the man's a complete bore. From Bliar, who was engaging, light on his feet, and, in my view, one of the great politicians and a genius at the soundbite, we have a man who is incapable of producing anything less than a tome.
The day of the NuLabour soundbite is gone. Flash can't do it. And if occassionally he manages a short bon mot, it sounds false, because someone else wrote it. Bliar always sounded as if he had made it up on the spot ( he mostly did) and meant it. Flash sounds as if he is reading the telephone directory.
Most commentators suggest he will get better. I'm not so sure. As PoliticalBetting points out today, PMQs mean just that - noone else can brief him, he has to answer. Bliar, of course, never answered anything, but Flash's instinct is to give an answer with facts and figures, and if he does, he will get shot down in flames every time.
The most telling moment, of course, was the " I've only been Prime Minister for 5 days..."( actually he was wrong - it's 7 days - not a good start). It sounded whiney and weak, and not the sort of thing one wants to hear from Our Leader.
There must already be many who wish Bliar was back. I'll take a small bet Flash won't lead NuLabour into the next election. I feel a resignation on "health grounds" coming up.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I had lunch today with a couple of business colleagues. One is fairly erudite in a rough sort of way, whilst the other is fairly rough in a rough sort of way.
The latter, Mr. Wheeler Dealer, was most interested to hear all about Romania. Once I had given him the spiel, he told me he had never been, but he had gone on a fact finding mission ( read rape and pillage) some years ago to Bulgaria.
" Naw naw," he said," I couldnay take it. All that acrylic script."
Mr. Investment Management Guru looked pensive for a bit.
"That's wrong," he eventually said. " Think you mean acrostic"
I don't suppose they meant cyrilic, do you?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

3rd September

In case anyone doesn't know, I was born on 3rd September some years ago.
I've always been proud that this date is an infamous one.
1929 - Black Tuesday.
1939 - WWII broke out.
1948 - you get the idea.
Anyway, I learnt for the first time tonight that " Les Droits des Hommes" was also signed originally on 3rd September, 1792.
It's not all bad then.

Monday, July 02, 2007


As heard on Classic FM this evening.
" These people can come and do what they like down south. But this is Glasgow and we'll knock the S..t out of them"
Glad to see our true colours are still to the fore.
As I've said before Terry Pratchett's wee blue men ("We'll fight onythin'! We kin get oot of onywhere! - Except a pub") r us.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Letter from Romania

Hi Alin,
there is an article in one of the UK papers today which offers tours to near Poiana Brasov which, if you go above the tree line, says you can see bears and wolves. Any chance if you could find out if there are guides or people who can take you to where to see them?
It is very cold here, we have the central heating on again!
Kinglear ______

Hello Mr King
every night in romania tv news its a reportage regarding the Brown Bears and wild Wolves as long as I know there are no guide,just 1 week ago 2 Amercans turist they got kiil by a wild Bear,(and because of this incident the Brasov authority they want to stop the turist and the taxi driver )they was brot there by a taxi driver,most of the turist they are brot there by taxi drivers,I think its a madness to hire a guid to bring turist in a place were nobody its safe!!!!
sometimes in this reportage on TV people are tryng to give food to Bears,the reasome wich the Bears are coming near to the main road its food ,because the romanian turist are used to trow rest of the food near to the tree line so this its one of the reasome wich the Bears are coming . Krs ,Alin

Wotsis name part 2

It has to be Flash Gordon, or Flash for short, on the basis that somebody 6ft 10in is always called Tiny.