Saturday, May 31, 2008

Virtual Assistant

I've begun using a Virtual Assistant.
It's cheap, reliable and you don't have to bother about it being ill, pregnant, hungover or stroppy.
I thoroughly recommend it.


Mrs. Lear was much exercised this morning.
Two mothers of newly born babies had not replied with a thank you letter ( or a text or an email) for the gifts that had been sent.
One is the wife of her godson.
The other the daughter of one of her best friends.
I'm old fashioned, but a written thank you letter still brings pleasure to many people - especially we nearly-pensioners.
Of course,people are much more ungrateful nowadays for things than they used to be. We were with some friends recently whose daughter had received gifts for the birth of her son.
She took them all back and changed them.
Still, manners maketh man.
And in this case, might end up getting you written back into the will.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Times are tough

Mrs. Lear was going to a function last night. She left the house to meet up with her friend on the corner of the road.
Her friend phoned me and asked if Mrs. Lear was wearing her pink shoes. I said I had no idea.
Her friend then said. " Well we're going to be standing on the corner and it would be terrible if we were both wearing pink shoes."
" I had no idea, " says I " that things were so bad that two families in the most affluent part of Glasgow have to send out their womenfolk to stand on street corners.
And I had no idea pink shoes were required for such an enterprise."
Mrs. Lear's friend assured me they were akin to the red lights above certain doorways......


I got an email from a man who did some work for me a few years ago - quite successfully until it became too expensive for the project and he had to go.
He has set up a new business on his own in the Internet field ( which seems to be the only area worth visiting nowadays - I don't see many people setting up machine shops or foundries).
I had a long conversation with him about our own domain business, and we are to meet in a couple of weeks time.
For a period of I had really enjoyed his company, and the intellectual stimulus his persona gave me. Unfortunately, at that time he was working for someone else who insisted on certain criteria, which, when applied to the business he and I were trying to get started, meant there was no point.
Now he's on his own, so I hope the market will decide the price - which varies from business to business.
I would compare this with how Doctors operated before the NHS started in 1947. Richer patients paid more or lots, poorer patients a little or virtually nothing. One of the capitalist lessons the East has learned well is about the marginal cost of production, both in services and in hard goods.
One of the more interesting jobs in his early life was when he worked for Mossad. He was an intelligence officer working in Jerusalem, who spent much of his time trying to persuade his older senior officers not to call in more air strikes. He also wanted the Palestinians to have a proper economy with jobs, which would mean lots of young men would not be hanging around being bored - and deciding to throw a few bombs at Israelis.He eventually got fired for not being hard-line enough ( and helping a Palestinian family), and left Israel shortly thereafter.
But what strikes me about him is that he has had to reinvent his life at least four or five times. His family escaped to South Africa from Zimbabwe when he was young, taking virtually nothing with them. He had to leave South Africa when he turned 18. He left Israel in his late 20s, and has had to change his career direction three times in the UK since. What it has done is make him resilient, open-minded and forward looking.
I was contrasting this with many of the people who remain in one place all their lives, doing the same thing, who turn 60 and then go into a decline. When they stop work, they seem to lose all interest in what's happening around them.
I know my reacquainted friend will never be like that.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mlle Tautou & the gigolo

I went to see the new Tautou film on Tuesday. It was charming with lots of lovely scenes set in lovely hotels in the South of France, and the acting was perfectly acceptable, even though the tale was a little obvious.
Irene, played by Tautou, was a girl working her way through rich men, and cutting a long story short, the person she eventually comes to love starts out as a waiter and ends up a gigolo.
That set me thinking. Gigolo may be a pejorative word, but nothing like as bad as prostitute, which is what Irene would - I suppose - strictly be.
Perhaps there ought to be an in-between word. We have mistress but that generally has an element of the man being married and having " a bit on the side".
Perhaps a gigolette would do.
I could see men using it.
But I think women would be rather like Ma Boswell. " She's a TAART!"

Monday, May 26, 2008

O Tempora! O Mores! or how Brown and Darling can't even give out money they're supposed to.

Quite by chance I came across a story that said that lots of the Yorkshire ( and other) victims of last summer's floods still hadn't had any Government compensation - which was promised at the time . Jackie Ashley brought it up today in her ridiculous piece ( none of the NuLab people get it at all.) when she said Brown was great over the floods ( er, not really). Anyway, I came across this from ( website of what used to be B.A.O.R.)
"What’s basically happened is that the UK was recently awarded Euro 162 million (£110 million) from the EU Solidarity Fund to help the flood victims in Yorkshire whose gaffs were made uninhabitable by the floods about a year ago. However, the UK gobment only plans to pay out £31 million and to keep the rest to help plug the holes in the national budget.Because the UK is a net payer into the EU, but has to forgo many of the subsidies handed out to France, Spain etc, Maggie Thatcher negotiated a rebate. Since 1984, something like EUR 69 billion has been paid back to the UK as a result. This rebate is generally reduced by normal EU subsidies. And this is where Brown the Clown and that Darling geezer have done a bit of clever bookkeeping, since the money for the flood victims is regarded as tantamount to a subsidy. So they reckon that two-thirds of the sum from the Solidarity Fund would have accrued to them anyway in the form of the rebate, and they’re also hanging onto a further £19 million, which would have been the UK contribution to the financial aid.Nothing is forcing them to do this, although they claim that EU financial regulations are to blame – they’re not! Brown the Clown and the fella with the Groucho Marx eyebrows are the snide, dishonest culprits.I can’t find anything in English about this, so any ARRSErs who’re better at googling than me (which probably includes just about everybody) will certainly have more luck. In the meantime, here’s the story in German from STERN: "
Oh, and in case you've forgotten, Blair, egged on by Brown ( although it was spun differently) handed back part of the rebate last year.
Treasonous Trash.

Old Kinglear and the Lord of the Rings

Old Kinglear has been in my mind a lot recently.
Partly this is because there have been ads for the Glasgow Memory Clinic on the local radio, and I underwent a drugs trial there to try to help with Alzheimer's, which is what OKL died of.
More importantly, a first edition of The Lord of the Rings recently sold for quite a lot of money, and I have a set.
I will never sell it, though, as it was given me by my father when I was about 7. Quite young you might think to be given such a book, but I was a voracious reader and regularly got through 2 or 3 a day of the Famous Five and the like, and OKL decided I needed some meat.
But why did he give me that particular trilogy?
I suppose in a sense it's now the most famous book of all time after the Bible ( I'm sure you all have other candidates) and The Godfather, or Peyton Place. But at it's first publication, Tolkien was almost unknown.
My father heard of the book whilst in Switzerland. It hadn't been translated at the time, but OKL was always one for gathering information - I think now such people are called mavens.
He walked into a bookshop in Berne, and happened to meet up with the then First Secretary in the UK Embassy there.
OKL had known him years before when he was Third Secretary. The budding Ambassador had then been moved to Paris as Second Secretary, and was now back in Berne as First Secretary. They chatted for a while, and then my father asked him what he was looking for.
" Well, when I was at University I was taught by a chap called Tolkien, and I'd heard on the grapevine he's got a book out."
As an aside, I'm not sure how being taught by Tolkien would have prepared anyone for the Diplomatic, but never mind.
Father was instantly interested and asked where he could get a copy.
" Oh, you can have mine. I'm actually back here returning it. It's a children's fairy story really. But it's for children."
Father was delighted and paid the enormous sum of, I think, £1.50 for the trilogy.
He never read it of course, but regularly asked me as I struggled through it how I liked it, and was permanently delighted to hear it was great.
" Ha," he would say with glee ," I know more than that idiot."

Scots Wha hae!

Being Scottish lays certain duties on a person.
One is to correct sassenachs who refer to us as " the Scotch" " Scotchmen" or " Scotties"PLEASE can we get this right.You are a Scot, or Scottish, or a Scotsman ( or woman).You are NOT a Scotchman - unless, as I have tried to point out, you drink Scotch ( a whisky, NOT whiskey which is Irish), in which case you are a Scotch-man. You are also not a Scotty - that's a dog. It's very feisty and sure of its's own self.
How would the English like it if they were referred to as Englandmen? Or Englishers? Mind you, they don't have a national drink ( except, I suppose, warm flat beer)and WE have a second National drink - Irn Bru ( Made in Scotland from Girders.)

500 posts up

Gosh, doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

That Glasgow diet

I was taking the Dog for its walk this morning when I was joined by Another Walker.
We were remarking that there was a dearth of ducklings and the cygnets had not yet made their appearance.
A little girl and her mum were throwing stale bread in the general vicinity of ducks, gulls, pigeons, coots and one swan. There are signs all over the place saying please don't do this, but I guess they were exercising their democratic right to do what they like.
As we watched, the Other Walker turned to me and said. " Those are definitely Glasgow swans"
To be fair I'd never thought of them as anything else, but he went on. " I feed them chips sometimes. They really like the soggy ones."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Boobs and Burma.

I spent the afternoon at a place called Xscape just outside Glasgow. It's a sort of semi-adult playground, where it appeared all ages were enjoying themselves.
The reason I was there was because Mrs. Lear couldn't get anyone else to help out collecting for Save the Children. I had already told her that, when I had mentioned this to odd people the day before I got several " I hope your not collecting for that Burma lot."
I'm used to collecting for the Gurkha Welfare Trust, when people come up to you all the time, pour money into your tin, and tell you interesting stories, and I was quite unprepared for the indifference to Save the Children, and the collection for Burma in particular.
I was approached by one person, who, instead of reaching for her wallet said " You should be ashamed of yourself collecting for those Generals. I hope they get all the diseases the country's getting." Another said " You should be collecting for China - they've done the job properly."
Needless to say, I didn't collect very much. One person was actually putting money in the bucket, then saw the poster, " Oh no, not for them" and walked away.
We may think the Great British Public doesn't pay attention, but the ones on display today certainly knew what they wanted - and more importantly, didn't want.
But to the boobs.
The weather was all right, warmish and not raining, but definitely not summer. That didn't seem to have stopped the girls and women from exposing acres of their upper torsos.
Apart from the 11 and 12 year olds, going on 30, and the 14 or 16 year olds with exceptionally gormless boyfriends, the vast majority of women walking towards me were large bosomed.
I was put in mind of the excellent Peter Sellers, and his " Balham, Gateway to the South." There's a poem in it that starts " Broad bosomed, bold, becalmed benign, stands Balham, full square on the Northern line". Certainly the ladies walking towards me would have qualified as "Broad bosomed"
Over 30 years ago when Mrs. Lear was having babies, she had a gynea, who had gone to New Zealand for 5 years, then returned to his native Glasgow.
He always told the story of going into his clinic waiting room in Auckland and seeing a long line of tall and blond women waiting for him. Halfway along the line was always a creature a good foot shorter, with big boobs. She always turned out to have been born in Glasgow, or her parents had.
His view was it was something in the water - or the diet - that had this strange effect. Women from Aberdeen or Dundee or Edinburgh don't seem to have the same shape at all.
So my conclusion today was that Glasgow women are still eating the fried Mars bars and drinking ginger **.
And good luck to them.

** " ginger" = generic name used in Glasgow for all and every fizzy drink.

Education Education Education.

The youngest Ms. Lear was on the phone last night. It's always lovely to hear what she is up to as it contrasts completely with what I do and what her sisters do, and frequently makes me think more deeply about how bad things really are in this country.
Having spent 4 years at University in America, she is very much in tune with how American politics is framed, and how its beginning to get here. The abortion debate is one such area where party lines pretty much divide the issue.
But the most interesting part of her conversation last night was about the safety net people enjoy. In the UK, of course, its much stronger than in the US, but here NuLabour have effectively suborned it to create a client state that will always vote for them. Unfortunately for NuLabour, most of them don't bother to vote - as Mrs. T said " I'm for the workers not the shirkers". Of course, NuLabour is effectively dead ( if it ever really existed except as Our Tone's non-existent Third Way to gather votes) and will shortly be replaced by proper Old Labour - ie the opposition until the NEW NuLabour rises in about 15 or 20 years time.
It's undeniable that Brown's incompetence and Stalinist clunkiness has effectively stopped social mobility within the UK, and this, more than anything, is perhaps the reason so many of the people who voted Mrs. T in have finally abandoned NuLabour . They rather liked that nice Mr. Blair ( Our Tone as the Sun always called him) who seemed to share their aspirations.
But that Brown, he doesn't share anything with us. He wants to control us and take away our autonomy. Of course, they don't frame it in those terms, but when they reach for the fiver for the next round and it's not there, and they see lots of ne'er do wells getting freebies, they know for sure that's not what they wanted when they voted for Labour.
So what should the safety net be? Surely it needs to be the ability to stand on your own feet. I accept there will always be some who cannot for a variety of reasons, but I refuse to believe that 5 odd million people in this country are incapable of some work.
The Americans have done some very good and forward looking work on this which appears to be capable of scaling up and being helpful. But the one thing that differentiates people - beyond a certain native wit - is education. Ms. Lear made this point forcefully last night.
Blair was absolutely right ( and spoke to the masses) when he said his three priorities were Education Education Education - they believed him and voted for it.
Blair's problem was he also told everyone he would fix the NHS, poverty, the police, crime, immigration and everything else. He did it to be sure of getting into power - remember, he even set up a deal with the LibDems, which, after the election of 1997, he conveniently forgot. In the event, Brown spent our money to absolutely no purpose whatsoever in any department. As a result he has managed to alienate every single section of society - even the people who have benefited.
I've long believed that government's - any government's - greatest failure is not getting people properly educated.
I'm not calling for the moon. I just want people to be able to read and write, have some knowledge of geography ( quiz the other day: Question: what's the capital of Finland? Answer: Holland - right first letter I suppose), history, both world and UK, be able to cook a little, clean a house , know how to balance a bank account and perhaps most important of all understand about contraception. They have to understand good behaviour, right and wrong, and respect - and not the insanity we have at the moment where people get stabbed for " Not showin' me da respec'." And I mean both girls and boys.
Failure actually has to exist. Don't pass your end of year exams? Repeat the year until you do. Have a sense of achievement.
I know that's old fashioned. But unless we start moving up the education scale ( we've dropped dramatically over the last ten years) we will end up having to do the jobs we presently have Filipinos, Romanians, Poles and Asians doing for peanuts. Our Universities, because of insane anti-selection policies, have fewer children from worse off homes than they used to, and only Oxford and Cambridge remain - just - in the top ten worldwide. Brown and his ministers, even the majority of the Guardian head honchos, all benefited from selection in education - but want to deny it to others.
Its at least a two-term - if not three-term - job but DC and the Tories have to get this one thing right - or all else will be unaffordable.
And without it we won't be worth any more than the scraps from the rich man's table of well-educated hardworking nations like - oh, say, anywhere in Asia really.

Friday, May 23, 2008

C & N and what it means

If you believe the spin today, Labour never thought they would win, and they expected a good kicking, and the Toff jibes and the racial slurs and the lies about Timpson personally " were an attempt to inject some fun into the proceedings".
As a friend of mine frequently says " I DON'T think so!!"
What it means is we will have a Tory government next time round with a workable majority at least ( and potentially a landslide) and there will be many fewer LibDems as well.
The people who voted for Mrs. T who left her for Tony Blair ( and it was Blair they went for, not Labour itself) have now decided Brown is not Blair, and they never liked what Labour has done to them. Originally, they thought they were prepared to pay more for better schools, NHS, police etc etc, but now they have seen the complete lack of any real progress, they want their money back.
Clinton had it right with " It's the economy, stupid". Brown unfortunately has no understanding of people, economics or life and aspirations, and never will.
When Blair talked of a " big clunking fist" he was actually being very astute. Brown is clunking in every department, and he only has one mode - the fist.
As the ineffable Mohamed Ali said " Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee - rumble young man rumble MMHMM"
Cameron is doing it perfectly.
UPDATE 1: Fraser Nelson on Coffee House has a lovely little snipette - as he says, we no longer need to bother about Labour's long term plans. There aren't any - and truth be told they probably never had any apart from GETTING POWER!!!!
What a waste they've been.
UPDATE 2: A commonly-used phrase by doctors, writing up a patient's notes in the good old days, was: "Requires a Timpsons Enema."
It meant:"Needs a boot up the arse."
Ironic that a Timpson, from the family that gave us the phrase, should deliver the biggest boot up the arse of the Labour party.
Serves them right.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

America again

Winchester Whisperer has a nice piece about Mr. and Mrs. America making a few adjustments. It means very little to their lifestyle overall, and not that much to their economy - but watch for 2009 moving on up.

HBOS and £500,000,000

You will probably have read in the papers that HBOS has floated off some £500million of mortgage debt.
This is good news as its the first easing proper we have seen in the mortgage market.
But before we all go wild, the average loan-to-value is 61% ( so undeniably above water even if prices fall by 38%) and the average price they are paying is 1.5% higher than they were paying before last October, when Base rate was .75% lower.
As a senior banker said to me the other day - " It's simple. We are paying 1.5-2% more for our money now than we were a year ago. The punter has to pay that. One of the ways we can squeeze up the price is by restricting mortgages for a bit, and then people don't mind paying the extra when they get desperate."
So there you have it. Economics triumphs again. Reduce the supply, up goes the price.
And actually, no one seems to be blaming the banks too much - apart from Brown and Darling who don't even understand that when you want to make a trade, you keep quiet until after you've done it.
I had a meeting with an HBOS executive today for one of the charities I'm involved in. He simply gave us the money. " After all," he said," We know you". So remember, even though the old fashioned banker/client relationship may be dead, they still believe in it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Home sales in California jump nearly 27 percent

Sales of new property in California jumped nearly 27 percent
from March to April as bargain hunters found it easier to get loans and pick up
property on the cheap.
Something like 37,000 houses were sold in the month, or about 27% in one month in one State of the TOTAL UK new house sales.
The prices were marginally down month on month, and about 28% down on a year ago.
If you have been paying attention, you will know I have great respect for the fluidity and flexibility of the US economy.
Two years ago, a particular house ( excluding land) cost about $190,000 to build.
Now, that same house only costs about $120,000. How? Partly it's explained by the fact that the product mix in US houses is quite different from ours, with lumber being a big input. Contractors have squeezed prices hard, so that only the most efficient mills can keep going. In Canada, which exported over 70% of it's lumber from generally older mills to the US, the industry is in serious trouble - the Yanks are hardly taking anything from over the border.
But my point is twofold. Firstly, houses are approaching a price in the US that people recognise as value. Secondly, even the bankers are realising the same thing and are prepared to bet some money on it.
The US is not out of its problems yet, but its already looking towards the next boom.
Unfortunately, we aren't.

Monday, May 19, 2008

John Swinney

I was invited this afternoon to a seminar which included the above gentleman as the keynote speaker.
I'm not an SNP supporter, but if Swinney is true to his word, all of us in Scotland might just vote for him. On the other hand, he IS a politician ( and a bloody good one at that)
He spoke well, but for me there were two points at which I thought " Yes."
The first was that the piece of paper he carried around with him at the Holyrood elections last year, and which he used at the first " Cabinet" meeting thereafter said " We will make Scotland grow economically and sustainably". Brown may have thought he would do this for the UK, but unfortunately his ideology and complete lack of understanding of economics, markets or even how to make a trade blew that one out of the water.
Swinney went on to say that the critical thing about the sustainability part of his dictum was making sure that everything in Government, local Government, the Health Service, and every other Government connected body all pulled in the same direction and were focused , not on a quick fix which could fall apart just as quickly, but on a long term sustainable position.
He made the point that he and his colleagues were about to launch metrics by which their performance could be measured, " For, " he said, " Why are we bothering to do anything otherwise?" His goal was nothing less than raising Scotland's average growth rate ( which over the last 30 years has averaged about 1.8% pa) up to the same level as the UK ( about 2.7%). This would have profound effects on Scotland's prosperity.
The second point where I was silently saying " Yes!" to myself was when a questioner said "That's all very well, but with your tax varying powers, surely you're going to squeeze that prosperity with higher taxes."
Swinney smiled.
" Let me answer that with a story. In 1992, when I was working for Scottish Amicable, I was given the job of finding the perfect spot for our European headquarters.
We could have chosen anywhere, and I had visions of jetting around Europe on expenses for some months.
The only problem was, I started - not by booking the airline tickets - but by doing some basic taxation research.
I never even left the office. Ireland had just started it's low tax regime for companies. It was such a complete and utter stand out that I simply told my Director that we should put the headquarters in Dublin.
Dublin now has it's own huge financial services sector, which didn't exist 16 years ago - sustainable, high value jobs"
Now OK he's a politician trying to sell his wares, but if he genuinely goes down the low company tax route, Scotland will be rich and happy.
And so will I.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

60th. Birthday party

My brother-in-law turned 60 during the week, and his sister, Mrs. Lear, hosted his party last night.
Lots of old friends and family ploughed through champagne, wine, digestifs, salmon, panacotta etc etc, and I did the washing up. I did, contrary to my usual rule in UK, toast the birthday boy with a mini-glass of bubbly.
What it did make me think about was the way connections remain. Some of the people had not been seen by the BiL for more than 30 years, but they still turned up and enjoyed the reunion. This being the West of Scotland, my generation are still pretty much all here - as are the generation before and the one before that. Many years ago when Mrs. Lear and I might have gone to live abroad, one of the thoughts we used to iterate frequently was that anyone we knew would still be here if we ever came back. In the event we stayed here - and yes the others are still all here.
My children's generation, however, are much more likely to have moved away.
Two of the three Ms. Lears are in London, having been in France and America, and the Middle East, whilst their friends from when they were little are also largely removed elsewhere.
Its a phenomenon that has probably been around in England for a long time, but here it's quite new, and has resulted in a generation of people either already grandparents or approaching that state who are wondering if they should move to be nearer the children.
I simply pose this as a question, not in any pejorative way, but why should they move? Should the children not have to deal with their own children, rather than having grannie exhausting herself three or four days a week looking after them? My generation had little or no help from the ancient Ps when the children were small. Why shouldn't my generation simply do their own thing and leave the children to get on with it?
Personally, I have every intention of not being a doting grandparent.
Mrs. Lear says I bored everyone to death about my own children, and she's sure I will do the same with any grandchildren.
And will insist on them being brought frequently to be looked after.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Manchester Riot

Well, it was bound to happen. A woman on the radio says the Rangers fans were all incredibly well behaved, that they only attacked the Police when the riot police came in ( er why did they need the riot police again?) - and after all, of course one throws stuff ( metal objects and the like) at heavily armored police, rather than walk away.
She also said that she had gone to ask what was happening of one of the riot police, who told her to get the F out of the way, " and that's what started the riot."
Hmm. Strikes me that people going up to riot police and asking them questions are a tad more likely to be in trouble rather than avoiding it.
I did see a selection of fans returning to Glasgow yesterday afternoon.
They looked tired.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The way we live now.

Whilst in the park the other day, a young family was watching the drakes chasing lady ducks.
" Who's that then?" asked the 3 or 4 year old little girl, pointing.
" That's the man duck's girlfriend " said her mother.
" So where are the baby ducks then?"
" Oh I expect they've left home already."
" Have they got another daddy?"
I didn't overhear the rest of the conversation as I was walking, but a couple of points emerge.
1) Even at age 3 or so, children are being told that men have girlfriends - not wives.
2) The children automatically assume that a man and girlfriend will have babies.
3)... and then the girlfriend will move on and the babies will get another daddy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Secretary's aspiration.

Others will be wondering why the sudden early release of Cherie, Prescott and Levy books, but the clear message is that Gordon won't be around long enough for anyone to be interested in them soon.
This is a mixed blessing for the Tories - GB is their best vote winner at the moment.
The story that stood out for me in the Cherie interview was her remark about Brown's "stinginess".
" He couldn't understand " she said " that a secretary on £18,000 pa wants to shop at Selfridges."
I think this sums the man up perfectly. He just simply does NOT understand aspiration, thinking people ought to be given things and be damned grateful too.
Except people aren't like that. The more they are given , the less it is appreciated. The more you earn yourself the more you appreciate it.
GB simply doesn't understand. Bliar's genius was that he did understand that people had aspirations, and he played mercilessly on them.
Brown will go down as the worst Chancellor and the worst Prime Minister ever, not for his incompetence and lack of economic, trading, or general business sense and understanding, but for the fact that he simply does not understand his fellow human beings.
Makes me almost sorry for him.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

True at all times

Charles Clarke apparently has a quotation posted above his desk, written by the American trade unionist Samuel Gompers, headed, "What does Labor Want?". The answer, set out by Gompers, was: "We want more school houses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more constant work and less crime; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact more opportunities to cultivate our better natures."
Now I have to say I'm not sure US Labor is the same as our Labour. In fact, I'm pretty sure the two are distinctly different, especially as American Labor tends NOT to want to bring down the "toffs", wishing to be upwardly mobile and join them - something our present Stalinist Government won't allow anyone other than themselves to do.
What I am sure about is that the sentiments expressed by Gompers are compatible with all political parties and all classes, and, as such, ought to be the bedrock of any political party in our nascent 21st Century.
The Left as such, largely a creation after the 1918 war in the UK, has run its course. People now insist on individual freedom and the right to self-responsibility. Strangely, the very " rights and responsibilities" as drafted by NuLabour have helped to alienate all the people Bliar managed to bring together in 1997.
It will be a very long time - if ever - before Labour gets into power again. I can see a situation where, without Scotland and Wales, they take the third party position presently occupied by the LibDems.
After all, they polled third last week.
If Crewe and Nantwich turns out anywhere near the ICM poll results just out, every Labour MP will clamour for "something to be done"

Thursday, May 08, 2008

ONLY 26%...

ahead. Weirdly, that might make things easier for GB. If he's so far behind no one will want to change him for themselves. Now, he has nothing to lose.

Wife in the North....

.... in case you haven't heard, voted Tory for the first time in her life last week.
And, as she says, her writing hand did not blacken and shrivel and drop off.
Now I can only say that this is the woman ( multiplied by many many thousands) who voted in Tony Blair.
So if she really has returned to her rightful mind ( that's to do with being on the right, NOT from insanity... oh well, please yourself) then her sisters and brother, husbands and friends, will all have done so as well.
So it's goodnight & goodbye from Gordon and it's goodnight & goodbye from him.


I don't read Right for Scotland on a regular basis, but this post makes for seriously interesting reading.
In essence the debate about 28 days or 42 days of detention is rubbish. From computers the whole thing can actually be done in 2 or 3 days, and then an interrogation of suspects where the police actually have all the answers and they either admit it, and get a reduced sentence, or don't, and get a longer one.
As RFS says, viewers of The Bill will know it as CrimInt.
So when Mr. Brown talks crap in the HoC, get your MP to stand up and tell him so.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Smart People..

.. is a new film with Dennis Quaid ( he of the Jack Nicholson somewhat persuasion) and Sarah Jessica Parker ( who doesn't really matter). It's a lovely film about Quaid being jolted out of his misery, and has in particular two wonderful lines.
One is from a poem by William Carlos Williams - " Everybody must have a red wheelbarrow". Actually that's not a quote from the poem itself - the poem is:

so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white

And reams and reams have been written about it.
But the thought in the film is that, to be human, you need the Red Wheelbarrow.
And the rain and chickens too, I would think.
But the other line made me howl with laughter.
Quaid's wife had died some year's before and he makes it to bed with SJP, and she makes him put on a condom.
Fair enough.
Except a few months later, she discovers she's pregnant.
When he eventually finds out, he says, " But how?
And SJP says " Because you don't know how to put a condom on properly."
The point, of course, is that's exactly how you make a human.

Monday, May 05, 2008


I was re-reading one of Boris's dispatches today and was struck by the following phrase:
"We do what we do because we hope to achieve happiness"
He was talking particularly about Gordon Brown and his lack of any apparent joy in anything he does.Boris, I'm sure, finds lots of happiness every day.
I'm quite sure we try to earn money, try to educate ourselves and our children, try to make our extended families cohesive, all in the name of hoping to achieve happiness.
If he extends that to his new job as Mayor of London, I'm willing to bet that living there will be less like being in purgatory and more pleasant.
And make us happier.