Monday, August 31, 2009

Red Arrows - Simply The Best!


An article in today's Independent is praising the RAF's Red Arrows display team and it is right to do so.

Although they are officially part of the UK's military forces they represent far more than just military might. They display the very best of training, discipline, bravery, skill, spectacle and engineering.

Wherever they appear - and they fly at airshows all over the world - they are invariably top of the bill and normally leave all other displays looking ordinary, while the crowds cry out for more.

I travelled to see them fly in the Southend Festival Of The Air back in May of this year and I was left spellbound and open mouthed by the show they put on.

The article in the Independent asks why middle England can't get enough of them but it is not a matter of class, for they transcend those barriers.

They are simply the best ambassadors this country could possibly send to demonstrate the very best that the UK has to offer the world!

More pictures of the Red Arrows and others displays at The Southend Festival Of The Air can be viewed here.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Falling In Love - With A Perfect Beauty!

Last Thursday, I fell in love.

It was not with an attractive female and certainly not with a man - although I am not saying there is anything wrong with that (tokenistic PC gesture over!)

It was not even with a racy looking car or any of the thousand things I constantly desire from the Apple store.

It was instead with a word ... and that word is 'Defenestrate'

It sounds so perfect and is a joy to pronounce. It's meaning is just as beautiful as its formation, for it is used to describe the action of throwing something out of a window.

Therein lies another piece of its beauty. Throughout the history of rock music, bands have been idolised not just for their music but for throwing hotel TVs and the like through windows. They never even knew they were performing defenestration.

Our English language is often criticised for being overly complicated and reformers argue to simplify the multitude of words we use to communicate the things we see; we are highly unlikely to ever see words like it included in the dictionary of 'text speak'.

I would also challenge you to find another language that has bothered to incorporate a word that was originally formed from Latin and include it as a dedicated word for such a ridiculous action.

But, that is the beauty of English. Unlike the languages of those who live across the waters, we have always been thorough. While they have been brewing and drinking wine and beer or inventing gastronomic delights, we have been sitting around increasing the quality of our vocabulary.

I hope our relationship with words will continue forever and we never get divorced from such perfect beauty!!

Thank you to the guys at tmesolutions in Maidstone for introducing me to the word - I never knew a meeting about a possible website could turn out to be so interesting.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 28, 2009

Michael Jackson 'Homicide' - What The Coroner Found..

The much revered Michael Jackson, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest in June, had a cocktail of drugs in his body which included Midazolam, Diazepam, Lidocaine, Lorazepam and Ephredrine.

The Los Angeles coroner has now announced the official cause of death as 'homicide due to intoxication by anaesthetic' with the primary drugs responsible being Propofol which is the powerful anaesthetic and Lorazepam, a sedative.

His personal physician, Conrad Murray has strenuously denied any wrongdoing and said that MJ had been given the drugs as part of his treatment for insomnia.

It certainly seems to have worked!!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Enoch Powell Was Not A Racist......He Was A Prophet !

A Tory Member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan, has got himself into hot water with his peers - yet again.

Two weeks ago he was severely criticised for describing the NHS as a "60 year mistake" - his Party Leader David Cameron publicly denounced his views as "eccentric".

Hannan's latest 'crime' is to tell a TV interviewer in the US that Enoch Powell had been a great political influence on his career.

For those who lack memories long enough, Powell was sacked from the shadow cabinet back in 1968 by Edward Heath after making a speech on the dangers of immigration which became known as his "Rivers of Blood" speech.

It was in the days when MPs were free to speak as their consciences guided. They were not tethered to electronic pagers and worked hard to represent the views of their constituents - even if they were at odds with the official party line.

Powell was, arguably, one of the greatest orators in the history of Parliament. I clearly remember his captivating speeches and his daunting presence. He had a personality that most of today's politicians would die for and could easily hold his own against his critics - using reasoned argument and not the cheap jibes and backbites of today's MPs.

His "Rivers of Blood" speech was, in retrospect, a mistake and caused immense damage to his following career. He was held up as an example of all that is bad in the politics of 'racism'.

When asked by David Frost in 1969 if he was a racialist he replied:

'It depends on how you define the word "racialist." If you mean being conscious of the differences between men and nations, and from that, races, then we are all racialists. However, if you mean a man who despises a human being because he belongs to another race, or a man who believes that one race is inherently superior to another, then the answer is emphatically "No."

His words are arguably even more relevant in today's politically correct world, where 'blackboards' have become 'whiteboards' and the nursery rhyme 'bah bah black sheep' has become 'bah bah white sheep'; 'blacklists' have become 'blocklists' (see earlier post) and comedians are not allowed to joke about people from other countries.

We have been forced into a world of PC fear and this particular quote, from 1970, seems to sum up our present situation perfectly:

Have you ever wondered, perhaps, why opinions which the majority of people quite naturally hold are, if anyone dares express them publicly, denounced as 'controversial, 'extremist', 'explosive', 'disgraceful', and overwhelmed with a violence and venom quite unknown to debate on mere political issues? It is because the whole power of the aggressor depends upon preventing people from seeing what is happening and from saying what they see

He added:

The public are literally made to say that black is white. Newspapers like the Sunday Times denounce it as 'spouting the fantasies of racial purity' to say that a child born of English parents in Peking is not Chinese but English, or that a child born of Indian parents in Birmingham is not English but Indian. It is even heresy to assert the plain fact that the English are a white nation.

Whether those who take part know it or not, this process of brainwashing by repetition of manifest absurdities is a sinister and deadly weapon. In the end, it renders the majority, who are marked down to be the victims of violence or revolution or tyranny, incapable of self-defence by depriving them of their wits and convincing them that what they thought was right is wrong.

The process has already gone perilously far, when political parties at a general election dare not discuss a subject which results from and depends on political action and which for millions of electors transcends all others in importance; or when party leaders can be mesmerised into accepting from the enemy the slogans of 'racialist' and 'unChristian' and applying them to lifelong political colleagues..."

A lot to read I know, but when you consider the words were spoken almost 40 years ago, it seems that Mr Powell was lucky not to have been denounced for being a psychic!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What A Clever Advert - A message For All

I thought I would give us all a day off and share what I think is the very best of clever advertising.

How could anyone fail to fall in love with Evian after this?

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 24, 2009

Politically Correct 'Block' Heads Remove Black As A Colour!

This should not take long to write....

The politically correct management of the Citizens' Advice Bureau has decreed that spam emails should not be placed on a 'blacklist' but instead be placed on a 'blocklist'.

Can you spot the subtle difference? Clever isn't it?

A spokesperson said:

Our approach to language is not prescriptive or dogmatic, but where we know or become aware something is offensive, fosters stereotypes or prejudice, or is inaccurate, it makes sense and is respectful to use alternatives"

We are not even talking about people here!

How is it that our fellow citizens who happen to be born 'black' are quite happy and proud to call themselves 'black' while a minority of white people have to work so hard to convince us all they are 'right-on' and colour blind?

There would not be any perception of racial divide in this country if idiots like those who made the decision at the CAB, did not keep trying to alter our language and pretend the difference in our colour was non-existent.

If you happen to be black and disagree please let me know!!

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Government Need Autumn Election - We Don't!

While Gordon Brown spends his summer vacation in Scotland, possibly looking for a new job, and his 'stand-ins' try to make the headlines in the national press, it is time to start wondering how Labour is going to survive the next few years.

Given the public's disappointment over recent political events and our perception of a lack of leadership in all things that matter to us mere mortals, it seems almost a certainty that the Conservatives will be asked to form a government after the next election - due by the Spring of next year.

That timing causes another problem for the present government, as all the difficult and unpopular decisions (to save us from ourselves) need to be implemented before then, meaning the government will face even more resentment from the voting public before polling day arrives.

The financial pain created by paying back the huge public borrowing deficit will be an enormous burden to the average voter.

Added to which, there is also the likelihood there will be attempts to replace GB as leader before, or during, the Autumn party conference.

If the Conservatives do gain power next year, they will be able to claim that none of the hardship we are all suffering was of their making and they will probably retain power for years - especially if the financial conditions gradually improve and we all start to feel better.

Not a very attractive proposition for Labour, so how do they tackle it?

The easiest way would be to accept they are going to lose, but limit the fallout.

If they were to call a snap autumn election this year, they will almost certainly place the Conservatives into government and thereby force them into the spotlight to take the blame over what will be necessary, but unpopular, decisions.

They will avoid the PR nightmare of having to force out their leader and be able to gently sideline him, while he eventually steps down to 'spend more time with my family'.

They will have sidestepped having to make the difficult decisions over our increasingly unpopular role in Afghanistan and will be able to criticise our new government from the safety of the opposition benches.

In short they will be able to re-build quietly and covertly.

It is very likely that the Conservatives will have been exposed as being nothing more than hype and, have themselves become so unpopular after their first four year term, they will be removed at the following election.

The new re-invented shiny Labour will, by then, have regained the public's confidence enough to return to power.

See? it's easy really...let's just hope they don't think of it!!

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Director Of The FBI Is A Hypocrite!

Predictably, the outcry over the compassionate release of the only person convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, has been loud and spoken malnly with an american accent.

Poor old Kenny MacAskill, Scotland's justice secretary, has been the main target. He claims to have made the decision to release Megrahi all on his own but as we all know it is very unlikely to have been allowed to proceed had it not been part of a much bigger political picture.

Poor old Kenny has, today, received a scathing letter from the director of the FBI in the US, Robert Mueller. In it he writes:

"Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world who now believe that regardless of the quality of the investigation, the conviction by jury after the defendant is given all due process, and sentence appropriate to the crime, the terrorist will be freed by one man's exercise of 'compassion'."

Hmm now where do we start on that one?

Megrahi's trial is generally accepted to have been, at best, controversial and was not tested in front of a jury but in front of a panel of three Scottish judges sitting in a 'neutral' country. Proof of the quality of the investigation normally rests on the evidence presented to the court and again this has been disputed with claims that some of the 'proof' was fraudulent or fabricated.

Sadly, Megrahi's release stopped his scheduled appeal, which would have tested all of the above and hopefully brought a more balanced judgement on the guilt of the accused.

But what could almost be the funniest part of the letter, if it was not so serious, is the part saying:

"Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law."

Remember this was written by a senior law officer in a country that has brought the word 'rendition' into the English vocabulary, where anyone suspected of actions that could be even remotely related to terrorism, were flown around the world while hooded and chained, were tortured by water boarding and worse, were mentally abused and held in a prison camp on foreign soil without due process of law or being formally charged with any offence - all for years on end.

If this is the definition of justice to which Mr Mueller refers then it is hard to know who is the greatest danger to the 'rule of law'.

To be able to criticise Mr MacAskill, the distinguished director of the FBI should first have made certain he was writing from the lofty peaks of the moral high ground.

If the recent behaviour of the US intelligence services is now seen as a benchmark for 'justice' then... stop the world..I want to get off!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lockerbie Bomber Leaves More Questions Than Conviction!

The only man convicted over the Lockerbie bombing 20 years ago, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, has, as expected, been released from his life sentence on compassionate grounds.

Megrahi is said to be suffering from prostate cancer and is not expected to live for more than a few months.

No one can deny the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 was a terrible act. The deaths of the 270, both aboard the plane and in the town, was unforgivable and the sheer audacity of the attack rightly shocked the world.

It is only natural that the families of the victims have been vocal in their criticism of Megrahi's release.

However, I am one of several people who has severe reservations about the legitimacy of his conviction and the circumstances of his release - it all seems to be a little bit too neat.

The evidence against him at his trial in the Netherlands was said to be mostly circumstantial. Indeed, one of the UN observers openly expressed his concern over the fairness of the proceedings and spoke of the possibility of a spectacular miscarriage of justice.

Despite such reservations, the governments - and their intelligence agencies - on both sides of the Atlantic needed someone on whom to focus the blame. Megrahi was convicted and sentenced to life in a Scottish prison. He has been there for the last eight years.

The timing of his compassionate release, therefore, seems to be a little convenient coming at a time when he had served so little of his sentence and just before his second appeal was to have been heard by the court.

His defence team were convinced they could present new arguments proving that much of the evidence at the original trial had been fabricated.

No one has ever explained how Megrahi managed to carry out such an attack on his own, his motivation for carrying it out or who financed his action. Surely those three questions would have been the first asked in the original investigation?

He just does not seem to fit the accepted profile we have come to accept of a radical terrorist.

Perhaps, it is because an appeal could have proved embarrassing in certain quarters, that a deal was done for him to drop his action in return for an early release.

Perhaps, the need to quench our thirst for Libyan oil is seen as being more important than the incarceration of a terrorist bomber whose conviction raises questions.

The fact is, a doubt has been left that makes me ask those questions

Megrahi has, throughout, been consistent in maintaining his innocence and today said:

"The remaining days of my life are being lived under the shadow of the wrongness of my conviction. I have been faced with an appalling choice: to risk dying in prison in the hope that my name is cleared posthumously or to return home still carrying the weight of the guilty verdict, which will never now be lifted.

Sometimes, the overwhelming need to see justice done overcomes the need for truth.

I hope that today's events will not mean that the full and complete story will now be buried with the deaths of both Megrahi and his appeal!

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time For 'Dinosaur' MPs To Be Extinct!

Just when we thought the public scandal over the expenses claimed by our parliamentary representatives was dying down, one of their number seems to have woken up from a coma and announced that he thinks the salaries of his buddies should be doubled, in exchange for not claiming some of the living expenses of the past.

Sir Patrick Cormack, who was one of the candidates for the recent Commons Speaker vacancy says the salary of an MP should be doubled from £64,766 to over £130,000.

He appears to be oblivious to the fact, that most people living in the UK are struggling to pay for one home and keep their jobs, without even a thought about claiming an increase in pay.

Sir Patrick said:

"I have reluctantly become convinced over the last few weeks that the most effective way of restoring public confidence in parliament is for there to be a significant increase in members' salaries and an abolition of all allowances, save for the allowance to pay staff and a constituency office"

One of his colleagues, Douglas Hogg, who you probably remember claimed for the cost of cleaning out his moat, agrees and has declared the pay of an MP has now fallen so low, it is no longer sufficient to support the lifestyle "to which most professional and business classes aspire"

If, as they like to claim, they are members of either a professional or business class, they have shown they have no understanding of the product they represent and have enough arrogance to completely disregard the public outcry of the past few months.

Like the majority of their dinosaur colleagues, it is time they became extinct!

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 17, 2009

NHS - In Sickness Or In Health?

Right wing politicians in the USA have been knocking our NHS system and predictably, our own political leaders have been very vocal in, rather hastily, jumping to it's defence.

While it is admirable for them to do so, a cynic might focus on the fact that almost 1.4 million people are employed by the NHS and they will represent a considerable number of votes when the next general election takes place.

Few can deny, the NHS is a fantastic part of the UK's foundation and most of us are grateful for the right of access to what we are told is free medical treatment. However, what we often forget is that it is not really free at all and it is certainly not a perfect system. We all pay for our treatment through our taxes and National Insurance.

The NHS is a system that has, like government, grown to be an unwieldy and ever costly organisation that is open to abuse and wastage.

Treatment is not consistent throughout the UK and it is often misused by 'medical tourists' from abroad.

The costs of administering the NHS are massive and it probably has more managers and admin staff than those in the front line medical areas.

While the government keep reminding us that the waiting times for treatment have gone down over recent years, operating theatres are still not used to their maximum potential and are sometimes left 'on standby' for at least one day a week because the surgeons do not want to work on those days.

Hospital consultants are often at odds with their local management about basic working procedures and frequently try to resist attempts to introduce more efficient working methods.

In short, it is far from being a perfect system and has, over the years, naturally become a political football between the parties.

It is an organisation made up of 'the haves' and the 'have nots'. Some make a very comfortable living from working for the NHS while to many, it has to be thought of as more of a vocation, with long hours and a poor financial reward.

What would really help at this time, is if our politicians would pause for thought and consider some of the criticism before they go into 'auto pilot' in creating sound bites that defend a system of which they personally have little experience.

After all, when was the last time our political leaders chose a night waiting for treatment in the local casualty department over using the benefits of their private health insurance?

Most of the rest of us live with the real life flaws of an NHS we would never want to lose but we pray will keep getting better and better!

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Paramedic Struck Off After Oral Sex!

A much needed paramedic who was caught during the act of being given oral sex in the car park of a hospital, was today struck off the register.

The chair of the disciplinary panel hearing his case said the act would:

"offend the morals of any right-thinking member of the public"

Had the 53 year old paramedic been spotted by a member of the public the comment might hold some truth but he was not. He might as well have been accused of offending Martians, for it was 11pm at night and he was spotted by security officers who watched his actions on their CCTV cameras.

Describing the incident, they said it looked like "a performance of oral sex" as the woman's head moved up and down in the man's lap.

Hardly a damning indictment but then I am sure they spent some considerable time adjusting their 'controls' before confronting the guilty parties.

It's good to know that yet another 'spy' camera has been put to such good use to protect us all against the threat of a serious crime by consenting adults.

Meanwhile, I wonder if the morally upright chair of the tribunal would have refused the paramedic giving him treatment in the event he was to suffer a serious health thinks not!!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Baby P - Should The Gagging Order Have Been Lifted?

The case of the torture and death of Baby P, two years ago, is still shocking.

The 17-month-old child had been abused over a period of months during which his back and ribs had been broken along with other horrific injuries. I still cannot bring myself to read all of the details.

The fact the social services had failed to either notice, or act on his behalf - even though he was on the Child Protection Register - was criminal.

The fact his mother had stood by while her boyfriend had dealt the abuse was also criminal. Both her and her lover have now been convicted of causing or allowing the death of the child. It is worth remembering their actions were not a 'heat of the moment loss of control' but deliberate and systematic abuse of a small child.

A judge ordered their identities should be protected because they were involved in a second trial where the boyfriend was found guilty of the rape of a two-year-old girl, while Baby P's mother was acquitted of child cruelty after it was alleged she witnessed the rape but did nothing to stop it.

Last night the judge removed the anonymity order and today the media has been busy discussing the pros and cons of whether they should have been publicly named.

A Professor of Psychology, even insisted during a radio interview, they should remain anonymous because they had probably themselves been abused as children and therefore were not totally responsible for their actions.

What total Cock!!

If they did not know the basic difference between right and wrong, then they should not have been allowed to have control of a child - far less have been living openly within our society.

Justice needs to be seen to be done and now we all know who was responsible for Baby Peter's death.

It is worth remembering that if his death had been caused by a vicious dog, the law would have ordered the immediate destruction of that dog.

His death was, instead, caused by people he should have been able to trust as his protectors.

Maybe it is time to change the law with regard to people!!

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mandelson - Prince of Darkness Will Stay Out Of The Light!

Much has been written this week about whether Peter (Lord) Mandelson has plans to take over from Gordon Brown to lead the Labour Party.

It seems to me, to be a bit of a ridiculous proposition and the only question that should really be asked is why should he, or anyone else for that matter, want to?

Labour, as it presently stands, is a busted flush. It has no direction, no leadership and very little support either from the public or its own MPs. The fallout from the recent expenses scandal has damaged Labour far more than its rivals - even though, MPs from all parties were equally guilty.

With an election looming on the horizon and the country still deep in a recession, it seems almost an impossibility that Labour will have a chance of retaining power.

Why then should Mandelson,want to lead what will become the next opposition - probably for years to come based on the voting trends of the last thirty years.

Mandelson has far more power in his present position, than he ever would as Party Leader. He seems to know where the 'skeletons are buried' and he is able to manipulate and cajole events - and the media - to turn in his favour. He has an arrogance that is both detestable and admirable at the same time. He has proved himself to be a truly remarkable political survivor, despite being forced out of the cabinet, in disgrace, on two separate occasions.

It is unlikely that whoever succeeds Gordon Brown will pass the 'test of time' to make it back into power. The party is far more likely to go through a long period of self destruction, re-evaluation and blame, before it can ever settle on unity again.

Mandelson is far better placed to orchestrate the long term future of Labour - and retain his control - from his present position than from being its leader. At the moment he is in a place of respect - as a leader he would be in a position of blame.

He has proved himself to be far too canny an operator to be caught out like that.

He is a Kingmaker and not a King

Peter (Lord) Mandelson has more than earned the right to be known as 'The Prince of Darkness'

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 03, 2009

Poor Wee Scotland .... It's truly Offal!!

Just when we English were thinking things were ‘at peace’ with our neighbours north of the border it seems we might be about to upset them again.

After years of controversy over the ‘plundering’ of North Sea Oil and decades of arguing over self rule for the wet, windy, mountainous and I might add very hospitable and beautiful country, a historian claims to have discovered that the Scottish National Dish, Haggis, was not invented by the Scots!

Instead, Catherine Brown, has found a reference to it in a 1615 English book. That’s a clear 200 years before any mention of it in Scotland.

However, former world champion haggis maker, Robert Patrick, disagrees:

"Anything that's to do with Scotland, everybody wants to get a part of.

We’ve nurtured the thing for all these years, we’ve developed it, so I think very much it is a Scottish product"

Still, one good thing to come out of it ....they might soon be advertising for skilled bricklayers to rebuild Hadrian’s Wall......cue the Pipers!!

Bookmark and Share