Saturday, December 31, 2005

Light Blogging

But on Thursday I fulfilled one small ambition. My daughter and I walked the Malvern Hills from one end to the other. Lovely cold day, a dusting of snow, misty but the sun was out on the tops for a while - blue sky above, mist around and below. Never walked the southern end before - much more woody than the north. I'll add photos in a day or two.

Back at home we've replaced the old Cyrix 300 box, used for email and word processing, with the awesome power of a Celeron 633. The boys loaded up one of their favourite old games - Ultimate Soccer Manager 2 (classic from 1996 or thereabouts) only to find it wouldn't load. 'You need at least a 486 to load this game' was the error message.

My days of computer gaming are gone - not enough time and I'd rather blog with the time I have, but I enjoyed USM2 ten years back.

We found a workable version (version 2 is better than the 98 version) on Home Of The Underdogs - a site devoted to 'abandonware' - software no longer sold or supported by anyone. Great place for retro games -a paradise for those of you with time on your hands.

Happy New Year ... see you in 2006.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Prostitution Crackdown ?

So sayeth the Guardian and BBC.

I'm not sure if this is actually going to be a crackdown on prostitution as such. After all, in the 1979 feminist worldview currently informing Home Office policy, they may not quite be able to decide whether the girls are poor victims of society, ordinary "sex workers", or Girl Power exemplars (this post describes their confusion), but they know who the bad guys are - "guys" being the operative word.

We will take a zero tolerance approach to kerb crawling. Men who choose to use prostitutes are indirectly supporting drug dealers and abusers. The power to confiscate driving licences already exists. We want the police to use that power more."

It can't be long before Julie Bindel is wheeled out again to tell the punters what evil murderers they are, while the poor girls are given lots of support, counselling, housing and other goodies, none of which, of course, they can afford themselves.

Alas, no pressure groups have been formed to campaign for the poor punters as hapless victims of their hormones, chained to the village idiot.

In the words of Antonia Bance, rapidly becoming my locus classicus for left-wing self-contradiction, "the real problem is not the women selling sex but the men who pay for sex. Let’s ASBO a few kerb-crawlers, put their photos in the paper, and see whether they come back for more."

We're back to those Victorian times, so well described by the Magna Mater Melanie, when earnest feminists condemned the fleshly lust of fallen Man, and the tragic victims necessary to feed their brute desires.

The Asbos Don't Work ... Solutions Please ?

"More resources"

'Young people with nowhere to go, now that resources have been cut, are being criminalised for hanging out on street corners' - "Niki" Adams, The Guardian.

"Professional support and compassion"

'The majority of young people who offend are neglected, abused, ill and immature. We should treat them as such and start caring for them in a more considered way, rather than dealing with them through the criminal justice system' - Louise Swain, The Guardian.

"None of the above"

'enforced military service for these subhumans ... should be sterilized with a blunt knife ... the decent people should now start to go around in groups and beating up little scum ... bring back the public stocks ... I wouldn't **** on him if he were on fire ... concentration camps should be re-opened ... firing squad ... I'd prefer to slap his parents ... drown him at birth ... birch them ... should be locked up and forgotten about ... stuck in a burning building - I'd gladly stand by and watch ... this piece of excrement'

Readers of the Manchester Evening News (owned by The Guardian)

Monday, December 26, 2005

No Christmas

I often wondered where the Scots Hogmanay tradition came from, and why it was always the big festival of the year.

Ignorant me. The Calvinist, Puritan tradition lived long in Scotland. In England Cromwell's men had outraged the population by banning celebrations as Popish idolatry. But in Scotland, not celebrating Christmas was a token of virtue and difference from the slackers south of the Solway.

Christmas Day was a normal working day in Scotland until 1958.

Nowadays Scots still don't celebrate Christ's birthday. But they buy presents and get drunk just like the English do.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Life's Little Ironies

Normblog profile of Antonia Bance.

What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Be prepared for what happens when you blog about Israel, Fathers4Justice or abortion: Holocaust deniers, wife beaters and religious nuts come out of the woodwork.

What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Empathy.

The Christmas Story

It's that time of year once more, when we retell the wonderful ancient story - of Jesus the asylum-seeker and refugee.

As is well known, Jesus and his parents had to flee to Egypt, the nearest safe country, to escape Herod's policy of 'post-natal termination' for all first born.

The Flight Into Egypt by Anibale Carracci.

But many people believe that the Holy Family then moved on across several continents, passing through many safe countries, before claiming asylum in the country of their choice - the country with the largest number of support groups, free housing and healthcare, and welcoming elites.

May I present -

Bishop Of Norwich -

"Herod kills all the young children in his attempt to destroy this newborn king. So Mary and Joseph escape to Egypt rather than returning to their home town and Jesus immediately becomes a refugee.
That's one of the things about the Christmas story that makes it contemporary. In Norfolk we count refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers among our neighbours."

The Guardian's Karen Armstrong -

"There is no room for the holy family in the inn; in Matthew's gospel, Jesus becomes a refugee"

Ekklesia (Guardian Readers at prayer) -

"Jesus too was an asylum seeker"

The Age, Australia

So Jesus, the prophesied saviour, spent the first years of his life as a refugee, knowing fear and depending on the kindness and hospitality of strangers (also "Joseph and Mary were members of a small nation conquered by a global superpower.").

Bishop of Lichfield -

A Church of England bishop has attacked "sentimental" Christmas card portrayals of the Nativity, saying that Jesus's family were asylum seekers and the three Wise Men were part of an assassination plot.

Department Of Education -

UK Government "stimulus and activity sheet exploring the theme of Jesus as an asylum seeker" for use in UK schools.

Revd Jonathan Clark, Independent

"I think we forget that Jesus was an asylum seeker himself"

And a big shout for the Bishop of Worcester (twinned with Sodom)

"When Christmas happened, the violence of the Roman super-power gave way to the reign of the Prince of Peace and the force of a violent occupation had to yield to the weakness of a baby."

What could he be talking about ?

UPDATE - a commenter wants to know why I'm only picking on the CofE. I just went for the first stories I found on Google - life's too short to number all the people who say 'Hey ! Jesus was an asylum-seeker, too !' with the air of someone saying something 'new', 'radical', even 'transgressive'. Such people are numberless as the stars in the sky, or sand on the seashore.

But here goes ...

Catholic Weekly, Australia -

"Jesus was an asylum seeker, too"

Australian Catholic Migrant And Refugee Office -

"The Gospel presentation of the Holy Family as a refugee family and of Jesus Christ as a refugee before He was two years old is before us, so clearly, as we tonight participate in our Refugee Sunday service."

Let me check - Refugee Sunday - isn't that the third Sunday after Easter ? A historic Feast of the Church. "Shrive me now, Lord Bishop, I must away to Mass. Wit ye not 'tis Refugee Sunday ?"

Pope Benedict Blog

"Jesus himself will be remembered as an asylum seeker and immigrant."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Dalrymple Interview From Colombia

He does seem to get about, that chap.

What is the problem? What do think is causing this violence?

The people are completely dependent, there is no economic activity in these towns apart from drug trafficking, really, and other forms of trafficking.There’s not much hope that things are going to change for them. Up to 40% of people under the age of 25 are unemployed, most of them are probably never going toget employed, if they do get employed they’ll be employed not earning very much more than they get for doing nothing, so they feel very aggrieved, and I think that’s a large part of the problem.

I see. It must be difficult in a country like Colombia, where drugs are so important to the economy.

Just a minute. He's talking about Paris !

Colombia News is an interesting new blog - I'd have thought that journalist was a pretty high risk occupation there.

Stuff on 'sixteen ways to smuggle cocaine' and a piece on the prostitutes of Medellin ('She asked if I wanted to go to a strip club with her. I made my excuses and left'. What he doesn't say is where he went and who he took with him !)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Police and Thieves

Imagine a white criminal, whose gang seek revenge after another gang member is murdered. The gang break into the house of an 18 year old Asian man, and take it in turns to torture him with knives and a hammer while his girlfriend cowers in the next room with her baby.

Then they shoot him in the head.

The criminal rings his girlfriend, a (white) serving police officer, within minutes of the killing. She helps him to flee the country.

I can't help thinking we'd have heard about a case like this on BBC News by now. After all, they're big on stories about torture, or possible police racism.

But nothing like this has actually happened.

A Policewoman helped two men flee the country after they allegedly tortured a teenager before shooting him in the head, a jury heard this week.

Prosecuting lawyers claim PC Rupinder Gill, 27, was in a relationship with Mohammed Akbar when 18-year-old Daniel Higgins was killed.

Her boyfriend was one member of an armed gang which broke into a flat and took it in turn to torture Mr Higgins with knives and a hammer, Reading Crown Court was told.

Mr Higgins was then shot as girl-friend Natalie Muncey cowered with her ten-month-old baby in the next room of the flat in Thirlmere Avenue, Burnham.

Akbar, 28, of Eastbridge Road, Slough, and friend Zahir Hussain allegedly used a Eurostar train to get from London to Paris after the attack in November 2003.

Gill is accused of travelling with them and returning to England a few days later.

Her mobile phone records allegedly show that she had been talking to Akbar within minutes of the savage killing.

And police searching her computer found she had looked up flights and Eurostar times on the internet, the jury heard.

Charles Miskin QC, prosecuting, said the gang murdered Mr Higgins to avenge the killing of Mohammed Choudry in February 2003.

He added: "Mohammed Akbar was amongst these masked men. He does not deny that.

"At the time of the offence, Rupinder Gill was his girlfriend and two days after the murder he and another man called Zahir Hussain fled the jurisdiction.

"They fled by Eurostar to Paris, from where they moved to Malaga. Mohammed Akbar's girlfriend assisted him in his flight."

The pair were arrested and extradited from Spain earlier this year.

Detectives investigating Gill, who trained at Hendon Police College, found St Valentine's Day cards sent after Akbar had fled the UK. The trainee officer was arrested in May 2004.

Hussain has since admitted assisting an offender and Akbar, although admitting to being in the flat, denies murder.

Home Office pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan Earl told the jury that Mr Higgins' killers used a machete to cut into his head. They also stabbed him all over his body and hit him with a blunt weapon.

Gang member Majad Khan, 29, of Wexham Road, Slough, was jailed for 20 years at Reading Crown Court in November last year for his part in the teenager's murder.

Gill, from Hounslow, denies assisting an offender.

The trial continues.

The trial has now finished. Note the total absence of Gill's occupation from the BBC report.

UPDATE - the BBC report never actually made it to the 'England' news section, which is reserved for more important stories - like 'Boy's idea protects red squirrels' and 'Kitten released from car engine'.

Snouts In The Trough

Peers who say their main residence is outside London can claim an overnight allowance of £154.50 (per day - the basic state pension is £82 a week) for staying in the capital on parliamentary business.

So the thing to do is claim that your holiday retreat is your main residence and your main residence is a weekend pad.

New Labour unplugged reports on four porcine "Socialist" peers.

Naught For Your Comfort

Ler's increase the penalties for smoking.

And reduce them for murder. Note the BBC's 'US-style' spin. We'll get US style categories - and British style sentences.

Education's just fine as it is.

The NHS - Pride of Britain. If you get maggots on your face in 'intensive' care, what's bog-standard care like ?

And drink-related deaths in Scotland rise 350% in 20 years. Didn't the Scots introduce 24-hour drinking a while back ? Say about 20 years ago ?

And remember last year's population figures, showing 19% of English births and 47% of London births were to mothers from outside the UK ?

This year's figures are 20% and 49%.

Oh, and there's no pensions crisis.

The move is likely to be watched closely by other firms.
Companies have previously tried to control costs by closing final salary pension schemes to new employees, but no large company had "dared take this step", one pensions expert told the Financial Times.
The National Association of Pension Funds said that other company pension schemes would increasingly have to follow Rentokil's approach.

There's not one here either.

Friends Provident is investigating the whereabouts of staff pension contributions at Unwins, the off-licence chain, as the troubled high street retailer was forced into administration last night threatening the future of about 2,000 jobs.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Rumour Mill

I keep getting Google hits from people looking for "Fi Glover fired". Nothing else tells me that - but when I got a load of hits for "Rod Liddle assault" it turned out to be true.

I have nowt against Fi - just another middle of the road Radio Five liberal who's moved to Radio Four as part of the long-term dumbing down strategy. She's nowhere near as PC as the horrendous Victoria Derbyshire.

VD - " ... and today on the phone-in we ask the question - is worrying about Islam a sensible response to the July 7th attacks or an excuse for racism and xenophobia ? The lines are busy - we've got Dave in Dagenham, Henry in Hertford, Bill from Blythe Bridge, Rory from Romford and Asif in Acocks Green - Asif !"

Asif - "... er, well as I see it racism in Britih society is something that's been there for a long time - look at the history of slavery and exploitation in the British Empire - racism seems to be in the genes of all British people"

VD - "Asif, thank you - that's very interesting ... "

(I also keep getting hits for "Eddie Mair gay" - he's another Radio Five person on Radio Four - a less offensive Nicky Campbell. About which I care not a hoot - Nigel Wrench is one of the best reporters on Radio Four and he's HIV+. Still a good reporter though.)

Also in the rumour mill, a Bradford correspondent reports that the word on the street post-shooting is

a) that the two police women arrived at the scene after two male officers had been originally sent and hadn't found the place (it's about 200 yds from Bradford police HQ but you never know)
b) that the policewoman was killed at point blank range in execution style

Lighter than Light Blogging

So ... I'm not sure what the Lib Dems have against Kennedy. He's got them in a better position than they've been in since the 1920s. And if it's policy that's the problem, think again. The LDs success is a result of their being able to be all things to all men.

Cameron ... looks like the Tories are going for my Option b).

And talking of reflecting modern Britain - some places aren't like modern Britain and don't want to be. But as the good people of the Western Isles are finding out, cultural diversity ain't for the likes of them.

"Ministers are prepared to fly mainland registrars to the Western Isles to beat the ban on gay marriages imposed by officials and councillors in the islands, it emerged last night.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive made it clear that ministers wanted civil partnerships to be available right across Scotland and they would use all the powers open to them to make sure this happened.

One way they could do this would be for the Registrar General to fly in outside registrars to the Western Isles - a move which would have the Executive's full support."

You can have any culture you want - as long as it's ours.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


It's a Maltese blog, the cut of whose jib I like.

But then I've been a fan of the Maltese ever since reading as a teenager Ernle Bradford's The Great Siege.

Malta is one of the oldest Christian nations on Earth - Christianity dating from St. Paul's shipwreck on the Island. Although under Arab rule for 200 years (the Maltese language is Arabic-influenced - for example, the old capital was Mdina, 'the city'), the excellently named Count Roger the Norman restored the old faith.

The Siege of 1565, when the Maltese under the leadership of the Knights of St John defeated the much larger Ottoman force of Soleyman the Magnificent, was one of the key moments in European history, as this, along with the siege of Vienna, marked the limit of Ottoman expansion into Europe.

(I like to think that Peter Briffa is related to Luqa Briffa, a member of the Maltese cavalry at the time of the Great Siege, mentioned as having shown exceptional skill as a horseman and inordinate bravery).

The Gurdjola site also links to the Gutenberg project, who have made available the complete poetry of Sir Thomas Moore.

Moore, most famous for romantic Irish poems like The Minstrel Boy, was an Orientalist. His long poem sequence Lalla Rookh contains a description of a religiously-motivated killer which seems relevant today to the Zarquawi school of head-chopping.

One of that saintly, murderous brood,
To carnage and the Koran given,
Who think thro' unbelievers' blood
Lies their directest path to heaven

Friday, December 16, 2005

2 + 2 = ???

It's a Scottish hat-trick of posts from the Peter Lovenkrands of blogging.

These two stories were top of the BBC Scotland news page at lunchtime today. I wonder if by any chance they could be related ?

GP cover 'worst in poorer areas'

People who live in deprived areas get less help from the health service, a study has warned. Glasgow University researchers found the poorest parts of Scotland's towns and cities had 11% fewer GPs and less access to health promotion programmes.

This was despite evidence of a far higher rate of ill health.

I like that 'despite' - as if sick people magically attract medics. Perhaps the poor health is a consequence of the shortage of health staff.

But perhaps not. Next on the page :

Assaults on NHS staff increasing

More than 20,000 assaults were carried out on NHS staff in Scotland in the past year, figures have revealed. Statistics from health authorities given to BBC Scotland show continuing high levels of physical attacks, aggressive behaviour and verbal abuse.

The Royal College of Nursing said, despite zero tolerance campaigns, assaults were becoming more frequent and more violent.

The Scottish Executive said violence against NHS staff was "unacceptable".

I wonder which areas have the highest rate of assaults ? Would they by any chance be the poorer ones that Glasgow University researchers are so worried about ?

"There were 11% more GPs in the more affluent areas compared with the more deprived half of the population.

The researchers said that although they found larger numbers of practices in the most rural and deprived areas, this reflected the higher proportion of single-handed and small practices in these areas.

They also found that these practices tended to have younger doctors, fewer female doctors and less involvement by GPs in extra voluntary activities compared with affluent areas."

I see. Older doctors and female doctors tend to avoid these areas - and the doctors who do go there don't seem to want to do extra voluntary activities. Why could this be ? Let's see what Professor Graham Watt has to say :

"Practices serving the most deprived areas are less likely to volunteer, possibly because they are so consumed by dealing with increased levels of morbidity, without increased levels of medical manpower, that they are unable or unwilling to take on additional activities"

The poor medics are just so busy laying out the bodies and treating the sick that they just don't have any time for all those extra goodies. And the absence of the old and the female ? Er ...

I guess the important bit is "without increased levels of medical manpower", otherwise known as 'more money please'. I do like the way publicly funded organisations call for more money for each other. Glasgow Uni, BBC, NHS in a little virtuous circle. We all know how little money is spent on the NHS.

Makes you wonder if they left the 'T' off the good professor's surname.

Still, never mind. Where the great brains of Glasgow have struggled and failed, this blog can bring you a scientific and medical breakthrough.

After minutes of intensive research by a dedicated team of one, looking at that same BBC Scotland news page, I can reveal the dramatic discovery of a link betwen poverty, poor health and assaults on NHS staff, hitherto entirely unknown.

Alcohol takes toll on Scots NHS

Scotland's drink problem is worsening with a significant rise in emergency admissions to hospitals over the past eight years, a report shows.
In some cases the figures have more than doubled, according to NHS Quality Improvement Scotland.

Deputy Health Minister Lewis Macdonald said Scotland's culture of heavy drinking was placing an increasing burden on the NHS.

Apparently high rates of alcohol consumption are indicative of both a high level of violence and a high level of ill health. I think this could be just what Scotland's politicians are waiting for. I can almost see the strategies being rolled out.

"Mum, don't do that"

Writing about Scotland yesterday brought something back to me.

It was February 2000, and we were in the Central Belt, driving between Glasgow and Stirling, on our way for a week in Glenlivet. We like the Highlands and Islands, spending a week there most winters and summers.

The football coverage had finished, the kids were half asleep and we had another 200-odd miles to cover. Nearly time for 'Take The Floor' - Scottish country dance music on BBC Scotland. Give the kids a taste of the vanishing culture of Scotland - whether they like it or not. On a long journey I claim 'droit de driveur' over the stereo.

Time for the seven o'clock news - which brought me straight back to present day Scotland.

"A mother has appeared in court charged with throwing her six year old son to his death from the fourteenth floor of a Glasgow tower block"

Apparently she'd woken the kids up in the middle of the night then thrown one off the balcony. She was said to have 'drug and alcohol problems'.

This cheerful item was followed by the story of two 'security guards' who had tortured one of their colleagues to death in a Leith flat over a three day period - apparently for amusement.

Well, I thought - who needs Irvine Welsh when you can just pick up the local paper ? At the time I think I'd just finished reading 'Filth' - the heroic tale of an ordinary copper fighting the neds of Edinburgh in his own idiosyncratic style.

The car was warm, children sleepy, on our way to hills, snow, air, a little house by a church (and a distillery) in a Catholic valley - a different world from the schemes we could see from the M8. The contrast between the Scotland of our destination and the Scotland we were driving through was striking.

I looked up the story this evening. The mother, 26 year old Allison Campbell, got five years. She must have been free for two years now, given that you only serve half your sentence.

FIVE YEARS ? Is it just me that finds the sentence unbelievable ? Jeffrey Archer got four. You can get five years for smacking your child. Or possessing a firearm with no intention to use it. Apparently those offences are on a par with picking up a sleepy little boy and throwing him from the fourteenth floor. Worse than throwing, if possible. There was only a small gap in the security netting. She must have forced the child through. 2 am. Fourteen floors. Six years old.

"Mum, don't do that"

Ms Campbell is doubtless a disturbed person - 'vulnerable' in social-workese. But I think I'll reserve my sorrow and pity for that poor child rather than the person who so cruelly killed him. So she's got problems ? Since when did being a drinker and drug abuser count as mitigating circumstances for someone having charge of children ? Shouldn't they be aggravating ones ?

Walking free around Glasgow, going to the shops, on the buses, maybe out for a drink, is a woman, not yet 30, who chucks little kids off balconies.

We've seen plenty of recent murders by killers or other criminals let out early. I see Anthony Walker's killers were also on early release.

Watch this space for Ms Campbell. The Scots would have known what to do with her once.

UPDATE - what is it with Scottish mothers called Alison ?

A mother has pleaded guilty to beating her young son to death with a golf club on Christmas Day.
Alison Gorrie, 36, bludgeoned her five-year-old son Brendan and then threw herself out of the window of her Edinburgh flat, falling onto the courtyard 30ft below.

Thank God this Alison's got no kids.

No wonder they're worried about a falling population.

Poor Brendan Gorrie and Derek Campbell had something else in common apart from their murderous mums. Neither lived with a father. Good to see that "the Scottish Parliament has backed plans to speed up divorce following a Holyrood chamber debate."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Stephen Twigg "Incapable"

Took them a long time to work that one out.

Whae's Like Us ?

We have to congratulate the Scots on breaking all records - for homicide. With 134 a year in a population of five million-odd, compared with around 858 in 2001/2 for England and Wales with their 55 million population. I make that around half the rate south of the Border, at 16 per million compared to Scotland's mighty 27 per million. Is it just coincidence that Labour have held power there uninterrupted for the last forty years, creating an underclass of considerable dimensions ?

Glasgow manages a rate of 55 per million.

What's so impressive about these figures is that, despite some notorious cases, they've been achieved with little help from their ethnic minority population, who contribute nearly 20% of the homicide suspects for England and Wales (out of 2,605 homicides (table 3.6) committed over a three year period, 495 were cases where the principal suspect was described as black, Asian or 'other'). When we remember that the 'white' population will include Albanians and others from parts of Eastern Europe with a cultural bias towards violence, the native English and Welsh, while still much too murderous for my liking, are positive angels compared with the natives of the Land O'Cakes.

Still, fret ye not. New Improved Scottish Labour have a cunning plan, involving giving homicidal teenagers free housing in an unsuspecting community - sorry, involving a new strategy to "challenge the culture of violence" in Scotland.

She (Scottish Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson) said that, among other measures, Strathclyde Police's Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) would be expanded to create a national "centre of excellence" to share violence prevention best practice across Scotland.

Rolling out initiatives, sharing best practice, centre of excellence, build on the approach - bingo ! All we need is an 'evidence-based' 'homicide Czar' to 'move us forward into the new millennium' and I'll have a full set of managerial buzzwords.

Cathy Jamieson may be totally crap at actually doing anything but she's got the language off brilliantly.

I think this photograph bears a reprint.

Picture by Stephen Mansfield for the Scotsman

Scots Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson successfully launching a campaign against anti-social behaviour.

No Wonder They Hate Us

New outrage for the BBC to report.

In other news - murders, stabbings etc.

Elsewhere - as ever, Mick Hartley is your one-stop shop for the latest on Lebanon, Darfur and China. Apparently the next AU (African Union) summit is to be held in Sudan - next month.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


"My least favourite radical chic interviewee: the talented but humourless Ute Lemper. Ensconced in a luxury suite at the Savoy, she embarked on a lecture about the downtrodden masses, and was so busy talking about how East German workers were exploited that she forgot to even acknowledge the existence of the maid who'd put a tray of tea in front of her." - Clive Davis

In the immortal words of Linus - "I love mankind - it's people I can't stand !"

And by the silence of Poll Pot, a lady who is usually pretty good at returning emails, it appears she did indeed send her kids to private school. What a hypocrite. As they say in the Black Country - "she's as two-faced as my a*** !"

Light Blogging

Due to pressure of work and tonight's school play.

Just a couple of BBC snippets. I haven't followed events in Sydney closely (try Tim Blair) but I caught a BBC TV news report last night which described the beach bums as 'neo-Nazis and white supremacists'. I wouldn't have thought there were that many such in the whole of Oz - they looked pretty ordinary youth to me. Looked like the sort of thing that in India or Aston would be called 'intercommunal' - with the big difference that nobody's dead.

The execution of Tookie Williams (loads of commentary at Cobb) has been all over the BBC - where murders of Britons rarely make the headlines. I'm still waiting for any of the BBC descriptions ('reformed gang leader and author' seems to be the favourite) to mention the four dead people of whose murders he was convicted.

UPDATE - sorry - he's a 'former gang member' i.e. ever since his arrest, and a 'peace campaigner'. Main item on R5 news.

UPDATE 2 - when the sentence was carried out, Radio Five news did actually mention the people he'd killed. Not their names or anything like that - just the number four.

UPDATE 3 - I see from the Englishman that the Royal Marine who got kicked in the head during their attempt to win the Turner prize has said his assailant is a 'good mate'.

Monday, December 12, 2005

One For Aged Hippies

Are The Polyphonic Spree a Principal Edwards Magic Theatre for the Noughties ?

"The Beginning Stages Of ..." is very 1970. The Asmoto Running Band go to Abbey Road.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Blogging the BBC on Buncefield

08.45 : The boys got up at 7.40 to watch 'Match of the Day' - the only time the telly ever goes on in the morning. Ten minutes later they're back upstairs.

'It's not on, Dad - there's been an explosion in a refinery near London'.

So I got up, fearing a terrorist attack, and have been watching off and on, in between lighting the fire, cooking breakfast and feeding hens. Susan and two of the kids are in London.

They may as well have put MOTD on with occasional scrolling news subtitles . There's little hard information coming out of the scene, so apart from the admittedly spectacular pictures BBC TV are reduced to saying the same things over and over again. Occasionally a new snippet emerges (Total oil spokesman - 'I can confirm that all our employees are accounted for' - How many is that ?' - 'Two') and is added to the mix. Otherwise, big plume, heard as far as Guildford, not an aeroplane (as in 'power surge on the tube'), there have been casualties.

They can't leave the story to develop, so they use what creative talent they have to find new ways of telling us the same thing.

UPDATE - the England Project were there.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Caring For The Vulnerable

It was only the other day I noted how "a serial rapist from Cornwall has been awarded £5,000 in legal aid to find out what made him commit his crimes."

Whereas the Pullar family, whose mother was accidentally given a fatal overdose of insulin last year, didn't qualify.

"The court heard that Mrs Pullar's prescription chart had been deliberately altered after the overdose was given, but that it was impossible to tell who had altered it. "

Don'tcha just love those dedicated staff, who can't write a prescription but can alter one ?

I imagine the £2.8 million is in the post.

Mrs Pullar's bereaved husband was kicked to death by three teenagers a year later, and once again the State was there to help. Exemplary sentences of three years each - and one detention in a mental health institution, doubtless to be released quietly later.

Oh, and the local CID failed to secure the crime scene. The report paints a rosy picture of the close-knit, caring community of Cumbernauld, as exemplified by the McAllister brothers.

Earlier Joseph McAllister, 29, who lived across the road from the Swan Inn, said he saw a set of legs lying in the car park late on the evening of 23 March. He did not go to investigate.
His brother Kevin, 18, said he heard someone shouting at about 2300 BST.
He told the court: "I saw two boys standing at the planter. One of them was in the planter stamping his foot up and down."
He said he saw legs hanging out of the planter as he walked his girlfriend to her car, but did not go over or phone for an ambulance.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Has there ever been a white victim of a racist murder in this country?”

I rarely link to a story on the BNP website. And Allen and Garvey are my two favourite Radio five presenters - a great double act.

I'll make an exception for this.

Jane Garvey : “Has there ever been a white victim of a racist murder in this country?”

This is the Drive show's email address.

Tin Foil Hat Alert

This arived a month or so ago - after I'd signed an online anti-war petition as 'Anne T. C. Myte' a few years back, she finally got a reply.

It's difficult to know where to begin with people who can put out such stuff. It's like a teenager calling Dad a Nazi for insisting that he tidy his room - while outside in the streets real Nazis are marching. These people have lived in safety and security for so long that they can't imagine anything outside their own country could possibly be a danger to them.

There are many Brits like that too - who have less reason. Twice America crossed the Atlantic to dig Europe out of the pooey stuff last century. But in those days, while we couldn't (as it transpired) win in Europe without help, we were capable of defending our own Island.

We could do other things too. I'm surprised at Harold Pinter getting so het up about Iraq. When he was a schoolboy we took the country over with a couple of spare divisions in 1943 - then took over Iran (Persia as was) in a highly illegal fashion a few months later. Never seemed to bother him.

If America vanished off the map tomorrow we'd be a lonely little island. Yet the Indie and Guardian are objectively on the side of the head-choppers in Iraq - and so are the BBC and half the 'human rights' lawyers in the UK.

They'll live to regret it. Meanwhile here's the 'Dad's a fascist' email. Read and wonder.

The World Can't Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!
Mobilize for November 2, 2005
Your government, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in their sights.

Your government is openly torturing people, and justifying it.

Your government puts people in jail on the merest suspicion, refusing them lawyers, and either holding them indefinitely or deporting them in the dead of night.

Your government is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule.

Your government suppresses the science that doesn't fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price.

Your government is moving to deny women here, and all over the world, the right to birth control and abortion.

Your government enforces a culture of greed, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.

People look at all this and think of Hitler --and they are right to do so. The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.

Millions and millions are deeply disturbed and outraged by this. They recognize the need for a vehicle to express this outrage, yet they cannot find it; politics as usual cannot meet the enormity of the challenge, and people sense this.
There is not going to be some magical "pendulum swing." People who steal elections and believe they're on a "mission from God" will not go without a fight.

There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into "leaders" who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.

But silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn -- or be forced -- to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.

And there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush's outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.

To that end, on November 2, the first anniversary of Bush's "re-election", we will take the first major step in this by organizing a truly massive day of resistance all over this country. People everywhere will walk out of school, they will take off work, they will come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to JOIN US. They will repudiate this criminal regime, making a powerful statement: "NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!"

November 2 must be a massive and public proclamation that WE REFUSE TO BE RULED IN THIS WAY. November 2 must call out to the tens of millions more who are now agonizing and disgusted. November 2 will be the beginning -- a giant first step in forcing Bush to step down, and a powerful announcement that we will not stop until he does so -- and it will join with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped.

This will not be easy. If we speak the truth, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world, and as we get this going we are going to reach out to the people who have been so badly fooled by Bush and we are NOT going to stop.

The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.

A Few Muntjac On The Curate's Lawn

I'm surprised Reynolds hasn't blogged about this. In my limited experience ambulance men are notoriously unsympathetic to overdosers.

"A mother who took an overdose while suffering from post-natal depression has won £2.8 million from the ambulance service which, she claims, arrived too late to save her from permanent brain damage."

The BBC remembers the martyrdom of St John of Imagine, patron saint of Guardianistas everywhere.

"Imagine there's no country ..." - that's an easy one.

"Imagine no religion ..." - well, no Christian religion, anyway. But nature abhors a vacuum ...

"Imagine no possessions ..." - sung at the window of his stately home.

Alhough the 'militants' holding the 'peace activists' in Iraq don't seem to realise that those guys are on their side, plenty of others do. Everyone from Hamas to Abu Qatada is saying so.

The trial of the Scally voyeurs opens.

And "A serial rapist from Cornwall has been awarded £5,000 in legal aid to find out what made him commit his crimes."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The County Nets

My son, just turned sixteen, improved his batting sufficiently this summer to be invited to the county youth trials, held over several weeks at a local sports centre. Proud Papa took him down on Saturday morning.

We get in the car, heavy bag of kit in the back, batting gloves borrowed from a neighbour’s son, battered but expensive running shoes borrowed from his father (too lazy to swap the metal spikes on his boots) and drive a few miles towards town.

"(Sniff) - are those your socks ? Something smells in this car."

"No - they're clean"

"There's something mouldy"

"(Sniff) - it's these trousers ! I got them out of the cupboard - they've been there since last season"

"Were they clean ?"

"Yes. They must have still been a bit damp when mum put them away"

"Got any others ?"


Oh Lordy. At close quarters they're dodgy enough to necessitate opening the car windows. It's too late to go back for some trackie bottoms.

We arrive. The car park is filling up with Beemers and Mercs. I have a neighbour half a mile away, a club player for nearly thirty years, who has a son in the under fourteens (with a pair of batting gloves). His words come back to me.

"All the public school and fee-paying lot - they play twice a week and train twice a week. You watch their mums and dads at the trials, sucking up to the coaches to get their kids in. Some of what goes on you wouldn't believe. It's not as bad as it was though - at one stage you couldn't get in at all from a state school. The kids know the county coaches because half of them are employed by the schools - and they all know each other because they play each other so much."

Gulp. My son's (state) school team was disbanded last season after the games teacher announced an after-school match at two hours notice. When my son (the captain) said he already had a club game that afternoon, the teacher cancelled the fixture - and all the rest of the season's fixtures - in a fit of pique. My son was playing club cricket three times a week - but what of the other kids ? The neighbour's son thought it a blessing in disguise, as the school pitch was so bad you ended up not knowing how to bat on a good pitch.

He gets the bag out. The zip on the bat compartment is broken, so he has to carry the bat and the heavy bag. He looks nervous.

"Do you want me to come down with you ?"

"I'll be alright"

He's tall, but thin, still coltish as I watch him disappear through the hall doors.

A couple of strapping, self-assured young men come by, laughing and chatting as they haul their large 'wheelie' bags, like the ones the professionals use.

Another one with a wheelie bag. Daddy has blazer and tie on, Mummy is still yummy.

"Shall we come down with you, Benedict ?"

"I'll be alright, mater"

I'm starting to get worried as I think of my son, standing around in his stinky flannels and not knowing anyone.

"I say ! Jasper ! This chav's bags are rank!"

"I expect you'll find his batting's the same !"

"Where are you from ? ASBO Comprehensive ?"

The next arrival has a motorised wheelie bag which he controls with a button on the handle.

The one after that also has a motorised bag, which precedes him. He controls it from a small handset. His friends find this highly entertaining.

At least they're not all wealthy. A shabbily dressed man in his late fifties is lugging a huge holdall down towards the hall, accompanied by a tall, muscular, Head-of-the-School-and-Captain-of-Everything type. Amazing how a father like that has a son like that.

"Just put it inside in a corner, would you, Perkins ? Careful, man, that bat cost £500 ! I'm going to have a chat with old Fubsy"

Now three Asian guys arrive - for some reason carrying the cricket bags on their backs and walking one behind the other. Then another - and another. And another. Two more self-confident chaps in cricket whites are walking with them, chatting to the sirdar. I've never seen Hunza porters this far north of the Karakoram.

I get into the 1984 Toyota and drive away.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Monbiot -"It's better to shoplift than to run a supermarket"

George Monbiot's father is a successful businessman and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative party. His mother is a Conservative County councillor. Mater and pater have a large house in the country. I presume they didn't send George to the local comprehensive.

Their son presumably thinks that the person who robs them is better than they are.

"Author and campaigner George Monbiot said: “When you step into a superstore, you are faced with a choice of two crimes: joining the poor in stealing from the rich, or helping the rich to steal from the poor.

“Both are wrong, but one crime is surely more heinous than the other.” "

Of course, George has a point. Before supermarkets came along, food was much cheaper. They raised prices to rob the poor - and somehow took all the customers away from the traditional, cheaper shops, where food was presented in recyclable brown paper bags. The more the supermarkets stole from the poor, the more people used the supermarkets.

Tam o'shanter tip - David Farrer, in whose comments I also found The G-Gnome Rides Out. To the blogroll with it. Sample :

"Galloway is a member of that section of the British public born between 1945 and 1955. Some call them 'the luckiest generation'; I would call them the greediest. There are, of course, many exceptions to this observation - but as time passes the more easily my conclusion comes to mind.
They were mostly born in clean, brand-new NHS hospitals. Their parents never had to pay for healthcare. Mostly, they received excellent educations in selective grammar schools for no charge. They either went to university to gain a meaningful degree or learned a trade and could go straight into stable long-term employment. The state made no demands upon them to perform National Service. They rebelled against their parents, avidly embracing drug culture, sexual licence and the permissive society, sowing the seeds of the present pensions crisis by campaigning for the legalisation of abortion in 1967."

I do love a good we're-all-going-tothe-dogsblog ...

Lightish Blogging

And, as the UK Government allows couples in a loving relationship to register for 'civil partnerships' (as long as they have sex of couse - wouldn't want an elderly brother and sister, or a caring relative, to take advantage), in Iran ...

The day grows closer when it'll be legal for sixteen-year old boys to be given one of these (link deleted), but not one of these. Smoking, you see, is much more dangerous than uphill gardening.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

BBC Feeling The Heat

"In hindsight, it was a mistake not to report the case of Ross Parker more extensively."

One name glares from this report by its absence - Kriss Donald. Doubtless there were some other, more interesting cases that week of fifteen-year-olds being kidnapped, tortured, stabbed and burned alive because of their race.

Hat-tip - the Dumb One.

"Most Racist Murder Victims Are White"

Slowly, the MSM (always excepting the BBC of course), are waking to the possibility that racism may not be a disease only affecting people with white skin.

Sean O'Neill in today's Times.

A Home Office report reveals that of the 22 homicides classified as racially motivated between 2001-04, the majority of victims (12 cases) were white.

When you consider that a non-white killer practically has to sign a confession of racism witnessed by a bishop, a magistrate and a GP before the police or courts will accept it, those figures are remarkable. Christopher Yates' attackers weren't racist, were they ? After all, a white judge has said so.

The similarities between the two murder cases (of Anthony Walker and Christopher Yates - LT), and the differences in their outcomes, has left the Yates family feeling that it has been treated unequally. “I understand what Mrs Walker and her family are going through. We are going through exactly the same thing,” Rose Yates, Mr Yates’s mother, told The Times.

“But it appears to me that we have experienced a different measure of justice than they have experienced.”

O'Neill's report considers the possibility that the gentrification of East London is leading to attacks on whites 'moving into Bengali neighbourhoods'. I'm pretty sure we used to call such people racist thugs - when they were white, that is. It also mentions Kriss Donald, Ross Parker, and the almost unknown Gavin Hopley, a lad who got lost in Oldham after a night out (he was not from Oldham) and was killed when he looked for a taxi in the wrong area of town.

Killer (le mot juste) quote :

The Commission for Racial Equality, asked about anti-white racism, said that there was little, if any, research on the issue. The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, where Mr Yates lived, said its community cohesion unit did not want to comment.

UPDATE - compare the police and local authority response to the murders of Johnny Delaney and Peter Stone.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Soggy Puddles From The Curate's Paddock

Broadband still bust - seems to be the router or cabling rather than the connection, so I'll be at Gloucester Screwfix (that well known networking supplies store) for some patch cables come 8 am tomorrow.

As a result I haven't browsed the Web much and am out of touch with what's going on, having only BBC news to listen to - most of which has been seemingly devoted to the Anthony Walker verdict. The contrast between the coverage and that given to Kriss Donald (see this First Post piece) is so infuriating that I have to keep reminding myself that Anthony Walker was a decent guy, foully killed by evil men, that his family are better Christians by far than I am (I'd be happy for the killers to be executed whereas his mum's forgiving them) - and that it isn't the Walkers' fault that the BBC don't cover white victims the same way - or even black victims who aren't killed by whites. Isiah Young-Sam was a young black Christian killed in a racist attack - but we didn't get live coverage of his memorial service. The wrong guys killed him.

Incidentally I note the murder weapon (ice-axe) had been stolen by our Scally killers from a mountain shop in Snowdonia, in line with the great Scouse tradition in which the A55 is full of Transits taking heroin in one direction and returning with antiques and garden statuary in the other.

Elsewhere ... Fiona Pinto flags up an interesting event.

On December 6, at 6.30 in Committee Room 11, in the Palace of Westminster, Gianna Jessen, a young American woman who survived saline abortion at 7 plus months, and now campaigns against abortion, will be the guest speaker at an event hosted by Mr Joe Benton MP, on behalf of our own new campaign Alive and Kicking (of which CORE is a member).

Gianna will be running the London Marathon next April for S.O.S ;a charity which supports children born with cerebral palsy. Gianna herself suffers from this condition as a result of her traumatic and premature birth.

The day before (Monday 5th December), get down to the LSE if you're in London.

The Big Debate
National Security vs. Political Expression: Where do we draw the line?
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
6.30pm 5th December, 2005
Room D602


Professor Lord Robert Skidelsky, Baron of Tilton (Warwick)

Peter Hitchens (Mail on Sunday)
Brendan O'Neill (Deputy Editor, spiked)
Alasdair Palmer (Public Policy Editor, Sunday Telegraph)

There is no doubt a line must be drawn since a shift too far in either direction imperils the other position; however the precise position is clearly a matter of contention.

Prime Minister Blair's first 'whipped-vote' defeat in the Commons on Bill 55 - The Terrorism Bill 2005 (despite the support of The Sun Newspaper) highlighted a deep and divisive faultline in British politics about how to deal with an entirely new security paradigm.

With the gruesome and horrific London bombings of 7/7 fresh in our hearts and minds the nature of the threat must be addressed so that together we may plot the way forward.

Some questions are procedural (i.e. what rights should a potential terrorist have, 28 days or 90?) but others go far deeper into the collective British psyche. Should support for resistance movements be criminalized? Should non-violent political parties be banned? Is habeas corpus dispensable? Shoot-to-kill? Does it truly matter that we will have to impinge on the right to protest to save lives? What should be the role of the judiciary in this new environment? Does Western civilisation face an existential threat from Al-Qaida cells or is that assessment overblown? Have British Muslims integrated?

These are in addition to more pivotal philosophical questions. How central is the right to political expression in a secular, liberal democracy? Do the needs of the many outweigh the rights of the few? What is it we truly value: life or liberty? Does there really have to be a trade-off between the two?

As the War on Terror continues to escalate from Bagram to Bali, Grozny to Gaza City, Tashkent to Tal Afar, once again the LSE SU Comparative Ideologies Society takes on the complex issues and tackles the tougher questions. Join us…

Sounds like a belter and I hope a few people will be blogging it.

I can't believe the naivety of the Christian 'Peace Activists' who thought Iraq was a good place to hang out in. Having spent their time campaigning for the release of detainees in Iraq, they are now detainees in Iraq themselves. "Committed to reducing violence by getting in the way" is their motto. They must be thanking their lucky stars that they're not in Nazi Bush's Gulag but in the hands of the struggling and oppressed Iraqi people.

The only cheerful thing about this whole sorry story is that the 'resistance' don't seem to be that media-savvy, if the desire to kill Westerners is greater than their need for good publicity from useful idiots. Nothing like attacking people who are on your side.

Interesting story on the Belgian bomber oin the Guardian. I thought only the Sun wrote about immigrants claiming benefits and driving expensive cars.

Three years ago she married Hissam Goris who took his new wife to Morocco, though they were careful to return home so they would not lose unemployment benefits. The couple eventually settled in in the rundown area around the Gare du Midi in Brussels where many Muslims live.

Muriel's parents spoke of the cultural gulf which strained relations on the rare occasions that their daughter was driven to their house by her husband in his Mercedes.

Stereotyping or what ?

No Blogging Today ...

Broadband lost all yesterday ... so take a look at the worthy (and wordy) Curmudgeon Joy.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"Christian Doctor Forced Out By Muslims"

Egyptian doctor Joseph Erian, a Christian, "has accepted undisclosed damages after claiming that he was forced out of his job by Muslim colleagues."

It seems to be getting bad in Egypt, what with the church attacks and all.

Oh - sorry. He didn't work in Egypt. He worked in Lincolnshire.

Keffiyeh-tip - Irene Adler.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ugh ! Those Nasty Men !

Strange how sophisticated metropolitan liberals often turn out to be astonishingly naive. I noted Tracey Emin's little-girl outrage that anyone could make fun of her art being destroyed, and John Humphrys' genuine bewilderment at the thought that the Lady Chatterley trial might have led to Big Brother contestants discussing "my f*****g stiffy".

Step forward one Deborah Orr, Indie journalist. I did wonder if this was a joke.

My disillusionment with the British Army

Call me a mug, but I really went for that stuff about the British Armed Forces being the best in the world.

Here's a knotty moral conundrum. Is the Royal Marine who shopped 42 Commando the sort of person we want in the British Armed Forces? I suppose that depends on whether we want our fighting people first and foremost to have a strong sense of justice, and the courage to act on their convictions, or first and foremost to be able to put up with whatever physical and emotional privations may be thrown at them, because they understand that their own discomfort and suffering is not important, compared to staying loyal to the team and obeying their superiors.

und so weiter. Deborah is of course talking about the Royal Marines little soiree of the other evening.

Three points here. One is that whether the Royal Marine Commandos are nice chaps to get drunk with has nothing to do with whether or not we have the best Armed Forces in the world. We do not employ them to be nice. Far from it. Probably the finest fighting soldiers of the last hundred years were the Waffen SS - and they wouldn't win anybody's nice guys contest. I think it was Alexander who said at Cassino "unfortunately we are fighting against the best troops in the world - what men !"

Secondly, your conundrum, Deb. Strong sense of justice ? Nice to have, but first and foremost to be able to put up with whatever physical and emotional privations may be thrown at them, because they understand that their own discomfort and suffering is not important, compared to staying loyal to the team and obeying their superiors ?

Yes please. That alone, that above all, that all the time. Because unless your soldiers can win battles it doesn't matter how highly developed their sense of justice is - it'll be rotting in a ditch somewhere.

Deb's horrified that no one has been sacked or demoted over the video. But no-one's complained, woman ! Can't the lads indulge in a bit of horseplay ?

If the commandos want to keep Guardianistas off their backs and Deb onside, I suggest they announce that the party was a bonding event for gay S&M aficionados - and sue for invasion of privacy. Deb will be denouncing the homophobic tabloids in no time.

Thirdly, not only are rough boys rough boys now, it was ever thus. What would Deb say about a young boy soldier, leader of a platoon known and feared as 'Bloody B', who bullies an unpopular cadet and then sets fire to him, causing him to be admitted to hospital ? Straight out of the army, I imagine.

The authorities were wiser, and the young cadet lost his stripes, but went on to become quite a useful soldier.

Mysterious Deepcut-style deaths are not new, either. Charles Allen's Soldier Sahibs tells of the great John 'Nikal Seyn', but he had three other brothers who died in India. Seventeen year old Alexander, killed, stripped and mutilated by the Shinwari tribesmen of the Khyber Pass, Charles, who died young after losing an arm, and William, who "was found one morning in 1840 delirious in his bed, two of his ribs broken and his body a mass of bruises. The cause of his death was never properly established - it was put out that he had fallen into a ravine while sleepwalking".

As you do. Sometimes bad things happen when you get a lot of people together whose profession is violence.

Deb's also worried that the army recruits some rough boys from rough places, "concentrating their efforts on deprived areas and young adults coming out of care".

There you go. I happen to think, as did the Duke of Wellington, that that's a good thing.

“People talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling — all stuff — no such thing,” he said. “Some of our men enlist from having got bastard children — some for minor offences — many more for drink; but you can hardly conceive such a set brought together, and it really is wonderful that we should have made them the fine fellows they are.”

In a moving essay, Shaun Bailey explains why he thinks its a good thing too.

I am Shaun Bailey. I come from a black working class environment. I was born and brought up by my single mother on the North Kensington Estates. Where I live, the peer pressure to offend surrounds you. Crime is everywhere. Education on the estates is not an issue. The teenage pregnancy rate is well above the national average. There is a teenage drugs epidemic. There are significant mental health and disability issues. There is little mobility out of the area. The number of people in contact with social services is way above the national average.

Yet just a few yards away on the other side of Ladbroke Grove, you can find houses worth millions of pounds where bankers, celebrities and media stars discuss being attacked and the threat of burglary rather than the problems of today’s youth.

I am one of the lucky ones. That I escaped my destiny I put down to three things: being part of a close-knit family; having a determined mother; and being enrolled with the Army Cadet Force (ACF) when I was 12 years old.

Most of the essay is not about the Cadets but about the estates within walking distance of Paddington Station. Read the whole thing.

Told You

I have a feeling that in years to come this email may hang round the neck of the Labour Party is a dead albatross stylee.

It should certainly make Gordon Brown's leadership more interesting. It'll be like James VI of Scotland all over again.

The Soaraway Sun is on the case.

A Labour spokesman said: “We cannot condone these comments and they in no way represent the views of the Party. We apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.”

Translated as "For God's sake, White ! We all hate England, but you're not supposed to say so !"

Gloating at the Cross Of St George.

Wonderment across the border.

It will damn well serve Labour right if our English friends say that they've had enough of this nonsense and declare independence, sending Brown and co. homeward to think again. Hopefully, we'll lock 'em up when they get to Gretna.

The Ten Commandments Of Political Correctness

Given by Victims. To Oppressors. Through the inspiration of Andrew Zalotocky.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A School Play

My son's primary proudly present "The Lost Rainbow" - an environmental drama in three acts.

Act One opens with the Rainbow, personated by a charming and articulate young lady, bewailing the destruction of the environment through Man's greed and selfishness. A succession of mini-rainbows then tell of the felling of the rainforest, the destruction of the ozone layer, the pollution of pristine lakes and rivers. Children look up but cannot see the stars because of light pollution. The beaver has no clean river in which to fish, or trees to build his dam. The Lords of the Jungle find their habitat shrinking, their posterity failing. The oceans are swept clear of life and the birds of the air have nowhere to lay their heads - or their eggs. In any case, the eggs' shells will be too thin, because of toxic chemicals in the food chain. And as for the radiation in the seas ...

Act Two finds us at the headquarters of an anonymous Corporation, where three sharp-suited capitalists in shades are attempting to destroy what little remains of the natural world, partly out of greed and partly because the end of Nature will mean the demise of the Rainbow, who has spiritual powers of growth, rebirth and healing potentially fatal to the Corporation's plans (you can see why we send our children to a Catholic school).

In case there's any doubt as to who the goodies and baddies are, the capitalists are made up as rats, with hollow cheeks and painted whiskers. My son got enthusiastically into character, barking 'cut', 'burn', 'buy', 'sell', 'destroy' into his mobile like a natural.

We then move to Egypt or similar desert location, where an all-American family are on vacation. Moronic Mum, dimwit Dad, whining and obnoxious children, Hawaiian shirts, check pants, camera bouncing off gut - even the Independent might consider the stereotyping a tad overdone. The family wander around the untouched desert, chucking litter and half-empty plastic bottles of precious water in all directions, Junior whinging and asking Pop where the theme parks are, until he wearily agrees to head into town for a burger or three.

Exit stage left, leaving the large sand-coloured cloth of the 'desert' looking like a second class Paddington-Cheltenham compartment on a Friday night when the train has reached, say, Gloucester.

I couldn't but wonder, as I watched this personification of greed and thoughtlessness, if any other nation on earth could be portrayed this way in an English primary school. A lot of the big corporations demolishing the forests of Sumatra and New Guinea are Japanese, but the likelihood of the Headmaster sanctioning a play where comedy slant-eyed chaps said 'Ah so !' while ripping out a forest - well, this likelihood is not a large number.

Act Three was somewhat confused, but suffice it to say that the Spirit of the Rainbow triumphed over the forces of evil, the capitalist rats were routed, and the Rainbow and all her little helpers took several bows to sustainable and sustained applause.

Then the lights went up, coats were put on, the cast retrieved, and little Chloe and James were belted safely into the back seats of the 4x4 for the long half-mile drive back to the gas-fired, centrally-heated warmth of the executive detatched, with its hardwood doors, conservatory and double glazing, garden illumination which comes on automatically at dusk and halogen security lighting, built six years ago on the floodplain where the old allotments used to be.

Separated At Birth ?

No woman safe - notorious Home Secretary.

No woman safe - notorious dictator.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Yes, It's Sick-Bag Time !

And next time I hear someone say:- "He'll come out of prison one day - it's us that are serving a life sentence", I shall throw up. - The Magistrate's Blog.

Speaking after the verdict, Mrs Ross's husband Michael, a hairdresser, described the defendant as a "low life".

He said: "I am serving a life sentence and my boys are serving a life sentence that means they will never see Jacqui.

It's strange. When an private sector employee or a manager makes a mistake or cuts a corner, and the result is the death of an employee or member of the public, Guardianistas are the first to call for heads to roll, courts to convene, and corporate manslaughter charges to be brought.

How come that doesn't apply to the deaths of innocents killed by the decisions of probation officers ? After all, I'd reckon that more people are killed each year by early release prisoners than died in the Hatfield train crash.

He had been on an all-night drinking session to celebrate his release from prison after serving just under two years of a four-and-a-half-year sentence for attempted armed robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.

A spokeswoman for the Probation Service said they were satisfied the supervision of Redfern-Edwards following his release had been of a "high standard".

She added: "He had committed previous acts of violence and because of this his supervision requirements were stringent.

"Whilst this gave cause for concern, there was nothing to suggest he would carry out an offence of this gravity."

So three days after release he's drinking all night then attempting a sexual assault. Sir, I don't see any "supervision".

If that's a "high standard" and "stringent supervision" what would they consider a low standard to be ?

UPDATE - once a teacher or school governor seeing a double-barreled name like Ben Redfern-Edwards would think 'posh kid' or possibly 'pretentious mum'.

These days you think 'uh-oh - trouble'. Ben's daddy didn't quite love him enough to marry his mother, but you can't say he wasn't ready to help him out.

His father Paul Edwards, who has already been convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and assisting an offender, helped him dispose of his clothes - which were covered in mud and blood - and then drove him away from the house.

Experimental Comments ....

Testing .. testing ...

The Glorious Resistance

As Gorgeous George so rightly says :

"These poor Iraqis - ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons - are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day against Muslims from my neighbouring constituencies"

Sunday, November 27, 2005


The new recruiting campaign by the Royal Marines has to be one of the best examples of subliminal 'guerilla marketing' ever.

For a tiny budget, you get shed-loads of publicity which has a double payoff.

First, you only attract recruits who aren't fazed by the thought of being encouraged by an officer (dressed as a schoolgirl) to get drunk and naked round a campfire. While bareknuckle fighting each other. Until an NCO in a surgical gown and mask kicks you unconscious. That should halve the dropout rate by ensuring the fainthearts don't apply.

The second payoff - well, would you want to fight against a bunch of people who do this to wind down and relax ?

Educashun News ...

The people who don't want poor kids to get a decent education (Labour, Tories, Lib Dems, NUT, SHA) like to tell us that the fee-paying (i.e. selective) schools get the best results because they cream off the brightest kids.

Not so. Many bright kids have parents who can't afford selective fees, currently artound the £7.5k pa mark.

Professor Jesson’s findings came from research that tracked the progress of the brightest 5 per cent of pupils between 1999 and 2004, based on scores in national curriculum tests of English, mathematics and science at age 11 in primary schools. He was given access to the data by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

Professor Jesson said that it was a myth that the brightest children attended private schools.

In fact, of the 37,500 children in the top 5 per cent, 30,000 went on to state secondaries and 7,500 were educated privately. By the age 16, all 7,500 in fee-paying schools had achieved at least five GCSE grades A* or A. But only 20,000 of the original cohort in state schools reached this standard.

The professor said that 13,000 students in state schools achieved three A grades at A level. In independent schools, the number was 7,600.

Now that last statistic is really scary. Of the 5% of brightest 11 year olds, only two thirds get their 5 GCSE A grades in the state sector, compared to all the publicans.

But by 18, assuming that all the 3-A students are our top 5%, only 40% of the clever-clogs can hit this gold standard at state schools. 100% strike gold at public school - AND they drag another 100 up to the mark who are presumably from outside the top 5%.

At the educational coalface, Shuggy is feeling the strain as Christmas approaches.

"I've often thought we need to get away from this idea that teaching is a job for life. I've only been doing it for eight years, I'm already half-insane, half-alcoholic as a result - as no doubt this blog clearly demonstrates - and frankly I'm absolutely sick to death of it already."

He thinks us armchair teachers should get out there and give it a pop.

Perhaps Melanie Phillips could be persuaded to take a few classes on a part time basis. Or Chris Woodhead to show us how it's done - provided he can be persuaded not to shag any more pupils, that is. Or Peter Hitchens, as long as he promises not to hurt anyone (he'll have to be kept away from the scissor drawer, I reckon).

Shuggy, you may understand Chris Woodhead, but you've not understood Hitchens. Neither he nor I would want to teach in a state school UNLESS you could hurt the pupils.

Not all of them, you understand - or even a majority. But pour encourager les autres.

Rasputin - May Contain More Traces of Christianity

Imagine my surprise when the BBC Sunday programme (Realaudio) told me this morning how the Archbishop of Canterbury was in Pakistan, raising with political and religious leaders his concerns about the oppression of Christians in that country.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has said that Christian minorities in Pakistan and other Muslim countries were often not provided justice and it was a matter of concern.

Well strike a light, thought I. I'll not forget the good he does, any more than I'll forget the bad. I'll do a little post on this.

I might have known that wouldn't be all.

The Crusades were a serious betrayal of Christian beliefs, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said yesterday.

Speaking 900 years after Christian warriors sacked Jerusalem, the Archbishop said that any attempt to revive the crusading ideal today would not garner much support among Christians.

His comments, made in Pakistan, appeared to be an attempt to reassure Muslims that the Churches are anxious to avert confrontation between the West and Islamic states.

In the past he has warned western leaders, particularly President Bush, against using sensitive religious language such as the term "crusade" to justify the war against Iraq.

That's right, Rasputin. The Muslim conquest by fire and sword of the historic Christian regions of Anatolia and North Africa ? Let's not talk abou that, shall we ? An attempt to partially reverse those conquests ? God, aren't we awful !

Meanwhile in Wales ....

In a sermon to mark International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, Dr Barry Morgan said Christians had "often used the Bible" against women.

It's certainly heavy enough - but it would be blasphemous so to use the good book. An erring wife or child should be lovingly chastised with this weighty tome.

More Murderous Medics

I know hospitals are dangerous places but this is getting ridiculous.

During her operation, Mrs McPhee lost 36 pints of blood and while she lay dying nearby, Walker posed for a photograph with a liver sample.

Walker was found guilty of serious professional misconduct in November 2001 after a series of botched operations that left four women dead and others maimed.

The GMC was told before it considered his case, 16 anaesthetists had refused to work with him.

Makes this chap seem like quite a decent sort, always ready to do a patient a favour - in exchange for a little favour returned.

What The Labour Party Think Of England

When I first saw this I thought it was a hoax, but there really does seem to be a Terry White in the Communications Unit of the Labour Party.

Dear Correspondent,

Thank you for your email.

Neither the Labour Party nor the Labour Government are pursuing the policy towards England or the English that you claim.

England, as opposed to Britain, has an unfortunate history around the world and within the British Isles and please do not say that it is all past.

It is a fact that the right and extreme right in Britain cloak themselves in the English flag, the cross of St.George and claim to be the true representatives of the English.

Wherever there is hooligan behaviour, usually linked to extreme right-wing political groups e.g. at football matches here and abroad, it is the flag of St.George that is displayed and that, I would imagine, is the reason why the MP referred to this type of 'Englishness' as a threat to democracy.


Terry White
Communications Unit
The Labour Party

We know this is how they really feel about England, but I'm surprised they're so upfront about it.

Of course, England does have an unfortunate history. Just as democracy has many defects and drawbacks.

English history has the same relationship to the histories of other countries as democracy does to all other systems of govenment. It's the worst history - apart from the histories of all other major nations. Or, as Peter Hitchens put it "Britain is the only virgin in a continent of rape victims".

Gareth at the CEP hits the nail on the head.

As I mentioned previously, the failure of the UK Government to build a civic national identity for England, whilst actively building civic identities for Scotland and Wales, contributes to Englishness being exhibited in moments of tribalism and xenophobia.

Rather than addressing the problem the Government are actually the cause of the problem. The longer they stick their collective heads in the sand, ignoring English identity, the more culpable they are in the appropriation of English nationalism as a vehicle for the 'far-right'.

I have a feeling that in years to come this email may hang round the neck of the Labour Party is a dead albatross stylee. I hope Michael Howard is raising this with Mr Blair at next Wednesday's PMQ.

It would be "a useful contribution to moving the debate forward" if all concerned individuals faxed their MP, asking them if they agree with this view of England.

UPDATE - the more I read that mail, the more I wonder what he's on about.

"England, as opposed to Britain, has an unfortunate history around the world and within the British Isles and please do not say that it is all past."

Uh ? Around the world, England and Britain have been synonymous for the last 400 years. Hitler and Co routinely talked of the struggle against 'England'. And 19th century Scots and Irish adventurers were proud to bear the name 'Englishman' all over the world.

Within the British Isles ? Does this mean we need to apologise for Edward I and Cromwell ? If not, can you tell us what it does mean ?

Saturday, November 26, 2005


We were at a non-league match this afternoon, and there was a minute's silence before kick-off.

You might not have heard a pin drop, but you could hear the nearby traffic. Someone coughed about fifty yards away. Otherwise, not a sound from 800 people. Everyone in the stands was on their feet.

The silence seemed to go on for more than a minute. A church clock a quarter of a mile away struck three. Still silence.

Then the referee blew and the whole ground burst into applause.

Meanwhile, at Maine Road, those lovable scallies ...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My Country Is Cwmbwrla Square ...

My countrymen - Cwmbwrla's poor.

Some snaps from the Laban Tall family album.

"There is no real history of great involvement in education in working class homes" - Barry Sheerman MP, in Parliament on 22nd November 2005.

"Poverty Causes Crime"

"Ask any woman ... from those pre-60s liberation times and they all have stories to tell about sex and terror for themselves or friends." - Polly Toynbee

Widowed at 36 with eight children was quite enough to worry about

"He Was Going To Die Anyway"

And a very good argument for murder it is, too. After all, we are all going to die sooner or later.

There do seem to be a lot of (allegedly in this case) murderous GPs popping up all over the place.

The BBC - Still Institutionally Racist

The BBC must be feeling sensitive about criticism of the remarkable contrast between their coverage of murders where the perpetrators are white and those where the perpetrators are black or Asian.

Alright, so the murder, and trial of the killers of Christopher Yates received no national news coverage. just one local BBC story before the verdict, while the ongoing trial of the Anthony Walker accused is the subject of daily national news updates.

But someone's conscience must be pricking a bit. The BBC News website has decided to take a detailed look at the case. The conclusion ? The killers were acting like white people.

"Three young men get very drunk, shout racist abuse, assault a waiter in a curry house and get involved in a series of brawls, climaxing with an attack on a innocent man who crosses their path.

It sounds like an all too familiar night of violence of the type which blights many city centres in Britain.

Except that the victim, 30-year-old graduate Christopher Yates, was white."

How very odd. For the BBC is a stronghold of what Marian Fitzgerald calls "the Seventies model of racist behaviour, which meant all racism involved the white community" - so how can non-whites be racist ?

The BBC analysis appears to be that these chaps have gone native, with the inevitable unhappy results.

"Maqsood, Bashir and Zulfiqar eschewed their parents' religion and culture - although they paid lip service to it - and chose instead to imitate their white English peers with binge drinking, sex and consumerism."

One mustn't be too critical. It's progress that the piece even appears at all. The BBC have a mental narrative in which half the globe is still pink and England is covered with 'No dogs, blacks or Irish' signs. Strangely, it's they who are having difficulty coming to terms with a multracial, multicultural society. If anyone there ever looks at the Home Office figures (table 3.6) which show that in inter-racial murders white people are much more likely to be victim than perpetrator, they probably put it down to poverty or the legacy of colonialism.

It's not deliberate - it's rooted in their culture. It's "unwtting and unconscious" as someone once said.