Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Weasel by name.....

I missed this but it was forwarded to me by a close relative.

"Don't know if you saw this at the weekend. Essentially a member of the public wrote to his MP referring to Lord Mandelson as "Herr Diktator Mandelweasel" and rather than correct it, the MP's covering letter said "Please find enclosed a letter from [the constituent] who is concerned about the ramifications of Mr Mandelweasel's three strikes and disconnect policy". The MP's office pp'd it, the department's correspondence unit issued a three page standard line reply about the digital economy bill, without referring to the error, just had it pp'd and sent. The best bit, however, is the quote from the department's spokesperson: "Lord Mandelson and his ministerial team are concentrating on this important issue and others facing our digital economy. Weasels are beyond his remit, for now at least."

Watch this space for "Lord High Weasel Hunter"...

Does anyone remember Catweazle? ( see above...)
Don't quite know why but for some reason this reminded me of when the youngest Miss Lear was very small, and we were skiing in Murren. The children's dinner was always 6 pm, and the maitre d' was always fluttering about his " little princesses" clearly looking for the big tip at the end of the holiday.
Youngest Miss Lear was never very taken with him. In fact, every evening after he had done his bit and moved away, and whilst spooning whatever food it was into her mouth would say " He's a worm..."

What MOD and Government are doing for the ex-Gurkhas...

Dated 29 Mar 10


· A cross-Government working group set up in June 2009 quickly established the ground that needed to be covered to make sure that those coming to the UK had fast track arrangements for obtaining National Insurance numbers which are essential to claim benefits and to get into employment.

· The DWP and UKBA worked between July and October to make arrangements for a special stamp for passports that would enable ex-Gurkhas reside in the UK for only 3 months before benefits could be paid.

· Time MOD recruited and trained staff to run a new Gurkha Settlement Office in Kathmandu which opened for business on 3rd October 2009. The government of Nepal and all ex-service organisations were briefed by MOD about the role of the new Gurkha Settlement Office which provides free help and assistance on the settlement process. This included information and education about life in the UK, filling out the visa form, help with completeing supporting documentation and get on the fast track for National Insurance.

· To date over 4000 visits to the office have been made by ex-Gurkhas and their dependants.

· Also in October 2009, the MOD in partnership with the Gurkha Welfare Trust (GWT), expanded its existing welfare arrangements in Aldershot with additional staff to deal with incoming ex-Gurkha welfare cases. A new Gurkha Welfare office jointly manned by GWT and MOD staff opened in January 2010 for the same purpose.

· In November 2009 and January 2010 several hundred ex-Gurkha representatives in Nepal were briefed by a joint MOD/UKBA team about the benefits of using the Kathmandu settlement office. In addition, all the major ex-service charities have been consulted about what more could be done in the UK. As a result of these consultations the DCLG announced in January that they will set up a Housing Advice Centre which will not only help ex-Gurkhas and their families identify suitable housing but will offer landlords a bond to cover the rent deposit required before the property could be made available.

· In March 2010, a booklet in English and Nepali that explains the cost of living in the UK was widely issued at the request of the ex-service organisations.

· A comprehensive book about life in the UK will be issued in Nepal in April this year. The book, developed in association with ex-servicemen, the service charities and local authorities contains information that ex-Gurkhas need to know about living in the UK.

· In April, further MOD/UKBA consultation and briefings will take place in Nepal with ex-service organisations. It is also intended to forward base some of the settlement office staff from Kathmandu to the east and west of Nepal to try and reach those who might not be able to travel to Kathmandu.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gurkha Highlander 2010

The wonderfully delectable Winchester Whisperer has asked if there will be the Gurkha Highlander this year.
The short answer is yes, but it will be late June early July this year and be slightly different in that there will be 7 mountains to climb, one per day.
Further details here:

Please be really helpful and donate here:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Counter Revolutionary Council for Iran

I'm in London on domain business,so didn't get to make up my bed on the couch until after 2:30 his morning, and as I can't sleep beyond about 7 if been up and about for a few hours.
I'm waiting for my friend Carlo to wake up - his day doesn't start until at least noon.
So I though I would share something with you.Carlo is an Armenian Iranian, whose father was the Shah's personal pianist.
He was able to get into the premier school in Iran, called Alborz, by hard work and because he had always been able to speak English.
Apart from running the school's black market economy, he won the Shah's Scholarship to Columbia University in the States.
The only problem was that just after he turned 15, things got a bit iffy, and his parents sent him to the UK, where he was supposed to study before going to the States.
Unfortunately, being 15, the bright lights distracted him somewhat ( which they continue to do to this day) and after quite a short period the UK Immigration people revoked his student visa.
As he says, " What to do?".
His parents told him not to come back as things were now in total turmoil, the Shah having fled.
His solution was to form his own political party - The Counter Revolutionary Council for Iran - and marched into the Immigration office and demanded political asylum.
This, of course, was under Mrs.T, and you didn't just get let in willy nilly.
So from then on he had to make his own way with nothing from the UK ( CF the present system) and had to wait 6 years before he was allowed to apply for permanent residency.
He then managed to get his mother here ( his father was in prison in Iran) and told the authorities she was also a political asylum seeker. When his father got out of jail 3 years later, he organised his escape.
There is a twist in his father's tale.
Carlo's uncle, his father's brother, was a very rich man with worldwide interests and he had left Iran before the Shah, taking as much with him as he could. But there was ten times the amount left behind, which Carlo's father had hidden by creating a false chimney -which actually worked. The Revolutionary Mullahs never found it, despite torture and tearing the house apart.
So when Carlo said to his father he had arranged to smuggle him out, he was told that he could not come until he had retrieved the treasure.
The escape plans had to be changed to include a whole truck to cart the jewels and other items, which increased the danger a hundredfold.
Carlo's uncle travelled to the border to await the truck on the appointed day, and leapt for joy when it appeared over the desert.
He told his brother he would give him a quarter of the rescued treasure, but Carlo's father refused.
"No, my brother, these are your things. I was merely the caretaker until I could return them to you"
The brothers argued until finally Carlo's father said "Look. I have no wish for anything from you. But if you insist on me having something, let it be the most valuable thing you can give."
"Name it"
" Your love"
Carlo just got his UK passport- 22 years later.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I was out for dinner last night in Stravaigin 2 in Ruthven Lane in Glasgow, and very good it was too.
I was with a friend who I have mentioned before who is a strong Celtic supporter, but also has much to do with the various rescues of fu'baw clubs up and down the country.
I told the tale before of the Americans wanting to buy Rangers, but there is an addendum.
It is common knowledge that the Ranger's supporters club is hoping to achieve something of a takeover now that the Ellis one has foundered on the sleight-of-hand being discovered about the piece of land the club did NOT own.
So my friend was invited to an informal meeting to show how they might go about it.
No sooner had he walked through the door than one of the supporters leapt to his feet shrieking "TREACHERY"
My friend, never one to hold a grudge, burst into hysterical laughter, which rather brought the meeting to an abrupt end.
But remember - you read it here first that the supporters will buy Rangers....
*I should perhaps mention that Celtic were beaten 4-0 by St. Mirren whilst we were having dinner.
" I don't care," said my host," I'm a Rangers supporter now..."
** Stravaigin 2 used to house the offices of perhaps the first of Glasgow's fine diners - Poachers, long since sadly deceased

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

That was the week...

I'm afraid I haven't had the chance to post over the last week. I had a speaking engagement in Braemar for the WI and the Castleton Lady Dancers of Braemar, who gave the GWT an excellent cheque. Immediately afterwards I spent time talking to various BR engineers as the recent Halkirk Crossing train crash happened on my land (!) To cut a long story short BR want to do various works and need to use some of my land to effect them. Visions of pots of gold are not appropriate, but I daresay I will be able to afford a Lottery ticket.
M'learned friend and I were due to travel south on Sunday to Salisbury, but the trial he was due to preside over was moved back from Thursday to Wednesday, necessitating his travel by train.
BR had closed the line between Carlisle and Preston for works ( and almost certainly just to spite me ) which meant I would have taken 17 hours to get to Salisbury, so I stuck with Plan A and drove.
The reason for the GWT meeting was to update us on various matters, notably the bad publicity in the Daily Mail and Independent on the Gurkhas who have come over since the ruling last summer - Lumley's Law one might call it.
In fact, the numbers that have a problem is relatively small ( and mostly caused by GAESO's misinformation) whilst the vast majority who have done it properly for free through the GWS have been able to access help immediately on arrival if required.
Only some 150 have had to have real help, and that has been immediately organised through the GWT.
There are already some who are going back ( life here is not in the least much fun for them) and there will be lots more who come, but the Newspapers resolutely refuse to see the second chapter - the good news rather than the bad.
I believe there will be a ministerial statement soon and also a statement by JL.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Drunks in Romania

From The Times
March 10, 2010
Drivers warned of drunks in road as Romania tries to reduce accidents.

Road signs warning drivers that drunken people may be in the road have been put up to reduce the number of accidents.
The signs read "Attention - Drunks" and show a reveller crawling along with a bottle in his hand.
Petru Antal, the Mayor of Pecica in Romania said his town had a vibrant nightlife. He said: “We are a border town and have lots of cars thundering through here all the time. But we also have a very vibrant nightlife and the two don't mix.
“We have to target the drivers because by the time they get to this state the pedestrians are beyond caring.”

This of course, is not something that we have a problem with in Mosna, Nemsa and Alma Vii.
The drunks are all driving the cars.....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Self assessment

Mrs. Lear as you know is doing terribly well at Auchencruive Scottish Agricultural College.
Apart from having a sore back from all the tree planting she has been doing, she and her remaining 4 mates are all doing just great.
There were 7 at the start of the year but one dropped out after a couple of weeks (gamekeeper chap) and another after about a month( got a job in town).
Anyway, they have to provide each other with assessments of their performance on the tree project.
Now Mrs. Lear as you know has only been out there in academia for a relatively short while,and doesn't really have the hang of how to advance her cause.
If you want a good assessment you have to make sure the rest of the class knows you intend to give them a good assessment.
Unfortunately, she omitted to do any lobbying,and handed out 2 "poors", one "fair",and one "merely adequate".
It caused a bit of a frost at the housewarming one of her co-students had on Friday night....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fighting the Terrorists and dangerous dogs

This is a true story.
I have a friend with a famous name, which really is ( let's say) Winston Churchill.
He wanted a cheap pay as you go phone and popped into a shop in one of the not-quite-as-smart areas of London.
After some discussion, he gleaned that a) the phone was £20 b) he could have a simcard to top up c) he could give any name he liked d) he could give any address he liked and e)there were no identity checks.
Being a decent sort he handed over the £20, and gave his own name " Winston Churchill"
" Nah," said the vendor," Come off it mate, that's obviously fake."
" No really, it's my name"
" Piss off, think of another one."
" OK how about Mickey Mouse?"
" Now you're talking - that'll be mister M.Mouse. Address?"
" The Magic Kingdom,Westminster, London SW1 1 BF."
Vendor hands over phone and simcard.
As my friend left the shop he overheard the vendor say to his sidekick -" That's the fourth M.Mouse we've had this week...."
It'll be like the dangerous dogs thing, toothless.
Hm maybe that's not quite right but you get my point.
My dog, who is the friendliest fluffiest dude you could ever come across has been marked down by the youngest Ms Lear as in need of registration under the Dangerous Dogs act.
" After all, " she says," even quite sane people turn into simpering idiots in his presence - he clearly turns their brains to mush. Most dangerous."
Can't help but think Disney will be suing for breach of copyright.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The King's New Clothes

Perhaps the first sign of the bottom of the recession has emerged.
I went along to my tailor Stephen Purvis today for the first time in more than 18 months.
The visit was necessitated by the extreme slimness ( well marginally slimmer) body I now have with all the walking I do.
He has had a dreadful couple of years (not least getting separated ) but within the last two weeks some of his old customers have returned ( including myself).
So he measured me up and agreed the shape was different,and it would be MAY before he could deliver. Which is when the conversation got round to how bad it's been, but also how much work he has recently got.
What has quite pleased him too is that as the punters return, he can get the balances they owe him from the last time they visited.
People never pay their tailors - until they need more clothes.
Anyway, I have ordered two pairs of cords, one deep blue, one purple as befits a King, and a most becoming pair of dark grey flannels. A jacket will follow once I start getting the trousers.
Just as well really - everyone would hate to see my underwear if they were the Emperor's New Clothes....

Is anybody listening out there?

Far be it for me to suggest the NHS is not quite as good as it might be, but then, I am only a humble user of it.
I have a thingy growing above my lip ( no, its not a mustache) and I have had a couple of similar " lesions" removed before now ( chin, earlobe) because they get in the way and eventually start getting nicked when shaving and bleed everywhere.
So I popped along for my appointment at the brand spanking new Victoria Hospital in Glasgow this morning.
It's a fantastic building. The only problem was they forgot to connect the drains which set it back a few months...
At the appointed hour ( 08:50) at Clinic B there was no one to be seen. I nipped next door to Clinic C, and when I said there was nobody about, I was met with a shrug of the shoulders.
About 09:10 a wee wumin asked if I was waiting for anyone. I showed her my appointment letter. She looked at me. She went behind the desk got a file out, read it, then pointed at a cubicle.
" In there and take your top off - Doctor will be along shortly"
Now I did think it a bit strange that I had to take my top off, but hey, they are the professionals.
After another 10 minutes or so, a very dapper gent arrived with a file, opened it, read a line or two, shut it, then prodded me in the ribs.
" Hm can't see anything there. Where is it.?"
" Where's what?"
" The growth on your rib - is it internal?"
Now there were three possibilities that leapt to mind. Either there was someone else needing a lump cut out of their rib ( and I was damned sure I wasn't going to let them do that to me) or my own doctor had sent other details.
Or the person who had taken the details from my own doctor was deaf - they are forced to employ people with various disabilities nowadays to meet their PC quota.
" Er actually it's not me with the rib problem. Mine's on my LIP."
" Nothing like a rib. Wait here."
He came back with the wee wumin who turned out to be his nurse.
A general discussion ensued which established
a) I was the patient they were supposed to see.
b) It was definitely my rib that was the problem - as per their paperwork.
I kept pointing at my lip, but the doc went on about the exploratory operation I would need before he could be sure about the lump ( what lump?) and how to deal with it.
" Look," I eventually said," There's nothing wrong with my rib. Are you going to look at my lip or not?"
" NO," they said in unison. " That's not in our targets"
" Right, I will go away and start all over again."
" Well that means you will have refused treatment," said the wee wumin, severely, " and when you ask again to get your lumpy rib taken care of we will be within our rights to refuse treatment."
As I left, I heard the doc say " Well that's our target for lumpy ribs met anyway."
My only worry now is that if I ever DO have a problem with my rib, I may die of it before they will deal with it.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Jawohl Mein Hauptbannfuhrer!

Word on the Street is that Germany will not lend Greece one cent - so says the German finance minister.
A snippet has reached me, however, that a " cash for asset" deal might be done.
You may recall that one of the other times the Banks got it completely wrong about sovereign debt, the only way to solve it was for the Banks to take over part of the infrastructure of the defaulting country. This was known as a menu, and would include eg the electric company for a $billion or so - things were much cheaper then.
Of course, this suited the defaulting countries perfectly. A year or two down the line the government would change, usually non-democratically,and the new government would re-nationalise whatever it had previously swapped. In the meantime, the taxpayers in the western banks had effectively paid the sovereign debt off, because it was written off by the banks on day 1, hence a fall in profits, hence no tax payable. Very neat whirligig.
So we are probably fast approaching a similar situation. A little bird tells me that Germany and Greece may be discussion the sale and leaseback of Corfu. In fact, this won't raise that much cash because Germans own most of Corfu ( along with Majorca, Crete etc etc) already.
What it does do, I think, is point out how far Germany's desire for " Lebensraum" has moved in the last 70 years or so.

After all, the last time they wanted a bit of space they didn't sign a cheque - they launched Barbarossa.
I have to say, I can't think that all the stunning blond girl's hearts will beat as fast for a chap signing an enormous cheque as for a Panzer Kommandant.
Mind you, you never know....

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


You may recall we are attempting to do something with some of our domain names which involved linking to a dating site.
Having rootled about a bit, we found we owned, and duly sent it off for approval.
Back came an email which basically said "I never heard of tantra so I looked it up and I don't understand a word. What do you mean by it?"
Now the one thing I am really really good at is talking as if I know what I am talking about. Acutely aware that if I mentioned "Sex" or " Sex at Oxford and Cambridge" ( I believe that increases your Google traffic) we would get the name thrown out, so I came up with the following:
"Tantric teaching is all about channelling energy within yourself to achieve higher levels of peace and spiritual calm.Our idea is that people should look to find soul mates who are reaching towards spiritual union. It comes from the Sanskrit word meaning " to weave".Part of eg tantric meditation consists of visualising an ideal eg god or goddess, and uniting with them in mind, body and spirit , a process likened to courtship. Our civilisation's idea of "The One " is VERY much of relevance here."
You have to admit that sounds pretty romantic. Certainly the young lady you was reviewing our application fell in love with me on the spot. Fortunately, she lives in America......

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

In praise of SNIFFEM

Many many years ago, there was great debate throughout academia as to whether or not History was Art or Science.
I can't now for the life of me remember which side won, but I do know I had to give a paper to The Headmaster's Discussion Group on the subject. The main point of the Group was the sherry beforehand and the port afterwards. Most papers were heard through the sound of schoolboy snores or hiccups.
The best one ever was by a chap who I seem to think was called Kerry Dixon, who produced the one and only paper which had people in fits of laughter. It was, as I recall, a tongue in cheek critique of pop-music. Naturally, given the august members of the Group, it was supposed to be damning. Naturally, because he was a bit of a wag, it was full of double-entendres and red herrings, and earned him nul points from the Headmaster. Naturally,we all thought it was great.
But back to History.
I read ( amongst other things) History at University, and to this day I enjoy historical biography and histories, in particular those about World War I, on which I consider myself a bit of an expert.
Today, I had a meeting with a chap who is wanting to set up The Scottish National Film Museum , which would include not just the archive, but artifacts and all sorts of other things - including HISTORY. I think the acronym SNFM ( pronounced SNIFFEM) is particularly apt.
His take on the subject?
" History is made by the people who bother to turn up." In fact, that's pretty true.
UPDATE: This is post 1001, which I rather like.
PS: We own a domain ( which is blacklisted by Google. Why? Because the letters ANAL appear in it. Sigh.