Saturday, August 02, 2008

Where's He Gone Now ?

"He" being James Hamilton. As I was trolling my way from post to post this arvo, I came upon Paulie's (not Wolfgang, the other one) repost of a James Hamilton classic from way back. James had then removed his old blog and created a new one devoted to the psychology of sport.

Now that's gone as well, unless he's moved and my links are out of date, which they generally are.
But the power of Google didn't find him on the first couple of pages, anyway.

Anyone know where his work has gone and where he is ? He's such a good writer, 'twere pity to lose his work. And I'd like to retrieve a comment I posted a while back - about the amazing Harry Sharratt.

UPDATE - both Paulie's and my links are indeed out of date. Thank you Blognor. James is still very much with us here.

The Age Of Political Consent ?

Twenty-one today, twenty-one today,
I've got the key of the door
Never been twenty-one before
Mother says I can do as I like
So shout Hip Hip Hooray!
I'm the King of the Castle,
Twenty-one Today!
That song - and how old fashioned it seems now - was, up until 1970, when the voting age became 18, sung at 21st birthday parties, which marked the transition to adulthood. The key of the door meant the freedom to come and go as you pleased, an adult in the house. And of course it meant becoming a full member of the community, with all the rights - and all the responsibilities - entailed thereby.

The last Labour policy meeting at Warwick, in between rearranging the deckchairs on RMS Titanic (G. Brown, Capt.) has decided to "back extending the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds" .

They're putting the cart before the horse. Instead of asking - 'what's the meaning of the age of political responsibility ? is it the same as adulthood ? does adulthood imply independence ?' they're asking 'how can we engage the young in politics' and 'how can we increase our vote ?'.

40 years ago it was much simpler. 21 was adult, full stop. The day you became entitled to vote was the day you became liable to be sent to an adult prison (although some Borstals took people up to 23), the day (pre-67) when you could be hung for murder. I'm not sure what the laws were regarding student grants - whether a 21 year old (say at medical school) with rich parents got less of a grant, but except for medics most education was over by 21, so the question of still being dependent didn't apply.

Lowering the voting age to 18 started to create anomalies - different responsibilities at different ages. Criminals under 21 had previously been dealt with as 'Young Offenders', over 21 as 'Adult offenders', but 18-20 year olds continued not to be dealt with as adults despite the lowering of the voting age, and the income of parents was taken into account when deciding on the level of maintenance grants for students.

Now we have a host of laws restricting the activities of 16 to 18 year olds - for what may or may not be considered good reasons. They can't buy cigarettes, alcohol, knives, guns, fireworks. As a child of seven or eight I bought fireworks - and like the other boys at primary school, I nagged my mother as to when I could buy my first knife (my ninth birthday, as it turned out). The 'age of responsibility' has increased for many things. (Some other things which would then have attracted a prison sentence are now legal for sixteen year olds. Just don't offer them a cigarette afterwards.)

The Government are planning to make school attendance compulsory for 16 to 18 year olds - with their parents going to jail if they don't go. See this blog for details. EMA and other allowances are based on parental income - implicitly declaring the child to be dependent on their parents.

How does this square with giving them the vote at 16 ? I'd suggest it doesn't. The liberal policy wonks seem to be engaged in a process of lowering the age of political responsibility while simultaneously raising the age of responsibility for everything else.

A consistent approach to votes at 16 would be to :

a) abolish educational conscription - how dare you force a 16 year old adult to attend school

b) adult prisons for 16 year old criminals.

c) adult sentences likewise

d) no compulsory parental contributions for education or anything else. Parental income not to be taken into account when assessing grants etc. like the 'staying at school' grant (ECA ?) . Remember, these are independent adults you're talking about. The 16 year old child of a millionaire and the 16 year old child from a council house both have zero income and should both get that £30 a week. They should also get full grants at university.

e) no more nonsense about fining parents for what their children do

f) that law about adults in authority fiddling with their 16 year old (adult !) charges needs to go. And 16 year olds will be able to buy pornography. And act in it. And buy cigarettes. And fireworks. And knives. And alcohol. And air rifles. And ammunition.

Now I think the above sounds somewhat foolish. But so are votes at 16. In fact, given the contradictions still unaddressed from 1970, I'd either raise the age to 21 again or resolve those contradictions.

Can This Be True ?

Valerie Grove, in a Miliband portrait.

"Until George W. Bush beat Al Gore, the US had never voted in the shorter candidate"

Really ? Never ? Anyone know ? Comments are open on this post.

Polly Toynbee comes out in support of Miliband

The David Miliband CiF piece which launched his 'leadership bid' received over 850 comments, nearly all negative. The polls say Miliband would be less popular than Brown. As I've already said, Miliband is one of the the few people compared to whom GB looks like Mr Ordinary Bloke.

Now Poll Pot has come out for Miliband, sounding pretty much like she did a year ago, coming out for Gordon Brown. Perhaps more breathless and girlish, if anything :

Suddenly everything changed. The burst of optimism was so startling it dazzled those too long trapped deep in a dungeon. In that one moment it was all over for the old leader who had plunged them into these depths. Suddenly here was the chance of escape everyone was waiting for.

David Miliband stepped up as the man with a plan to take the fight to the Tories, the man to free the party from the bondage of disastrous leadership. With the deftest of brush strokes in his Guardian article, he painted the policies of optimism ... here was a sketched outline of radical policies. Judging from an avalanche of emails pouring in, out there Labour people are ready to return if the party offers something better.

He set a small stone rolling down the hill, its effect unpredictable: already it has become a boulder. His press conference and performance on the Jeremy Vine Show gave his party the chance to look at him in a new light. His breezy ease ... he dismissed suspicion that this silver-spoon-fed political princeling hadn't the guts to reach for the sword in the stone, nor the muscle, the will or the street-fighting canniness for power.

Downing Street's crude retaliations - "immature self-serving traitor" - were tossed away with a smile.
Blimey. A new champion steps forth. Dungeons, princelings and swords. Who is that lonely maiden in the tower, her fair hands embroidering a Trades Council banner ?

Polly, Polly, let down your long hair !

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal Knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

Or maybe :

O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm'd, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.

As usual the comments are the best. This one is perfect :

If one believed Pollyana, (a far-fetched notion, I admit), Brown was a winning combination of Solon, Merlin and Max Planck. I and many others at the time pointed out the absurdity of Pollyana's analysis. That Brown was just more of the same. He was a man who had marched in lock-step with the discredited Blairite Project every inch of the way. But, alas, Pollyana was giddy with love and wouldn't listen.

Now the scales have fallen from her eyes to reveal...another set of scales. Is there any limit to this wretched woman's foolishness?
Doesn't seem to be, does there ? I do start to wonder if the CiF writers are just in it for the page reads now - under orders from the editor to attract as many hits as possible by writing indefensible nonsense - thus attracting a swarm of angry comments.

Friday, August 01, 2008

HMG Fail In Attempt To Sell UK's Nuclear Industry To French Govt

British Energy's nuclear power stations are seen as some of the best sites for new reactors in the UK. EDF, which is 85% owned by the French government, is the biggest nuclear power generator in the world.

I wonder if the French government would be keen on selling its nuclear power to a foreign government ? I wouldn't have thought so, somehow. But to Brown's bums, everything is up for sale. I doubt Cameron would be much different.

At least Charles II actually got the French to sign the Treaty of Dover.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Thought It Was Only Men

... who do this sort of thing ?

A mother killed her five year old son to spite his father before taking her own life, an inquest has heard.Emma Hart, 27, force-fed Lewis Dangerfield a lethal cocktail of pain killers and antidepressants at their home then fled to her mother's flat nearby and slashed her wrists.

In a note to the little boy's father, Shaun Dangerfield, which she left by his body, she wrote: 'I told you I would make you pay, enjoy your life now, nothing is stopping you, ha ha ha. Just remember it's your fault.

Another Day ...

Another Home Office strategy overturned by the courts :

The regulations required people not legally settled in the UK to seek special permission to marry. These rules applied to couples even though one of them might have a legal right to be in the country. They were brought in by then-Home Secretary David Blunkett in 2004, amid concerns that thousands of people a year were using sham marriages to stay in the UK.

However the regulations were ruled as illegal by the High Court in 2006 and then Appeal Court last year. Yesterday the Law Lords agreed, saying they were an "arbitrary and unjust interference" with human rights. Baroness Hale said: "Denying those benefits to a couple whose relationship is genuine is neither a rational nor a proportionate response to the legitimate aims of a firm and fair immigration policy."

I love the way that Baroness Hale feels able to assess the proportionality of a law to the evil it's designed to address, and to conclude that requiring a foreigner to request permission to marry in the UK is a disproportionate response to several thousand fraudulent marriages each year and a significant contribution to illegal immigration. In the bad old days we used to have elected politicians to make those sort of judgements.

Whereas requiring a mother to undergo criminal record checks before escorting her disabled 14 year old son to school ? Obviously perfectly proportional.

A mother has been told she cannot travel to school with her severely epileptic son because she has not been police checked. Jayne Jones, of Aberfan near Merthyr Tydfil, used to travel with her son Alex, 14, in the council-provided taxi when she feared he may have a fit. But Merthyr Tydfil council has told her this must stop until she has undergone a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.
Baroness Hale does of course have a fair bit of previous.

UPDATE - the Dumb One finds the words that I can't find. Read please.

A John McWhorter Reader

Links to most of his online published stuff here.

Fine essay here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More On Mullingar ...

According to the Herald the guy in the stripy top with the beanie hat, one Christie "Ditsy" Nevin, is named as a leading instigator.

A senior garda named Christie "Ditsy" Nevin (53) as the man who has contributed most to the violence. Superintendent John Gantly, a former head of the Garda Emergency Response Unit, claimed Nevin had opposed all attempts at compromise in a long running feud between families. Nevin was charged with public order offences. Hugh Nevin (21), of Grange Crescent, Mullingar, and David Nevin (30) of St Michael's Park, Mullingar, were both charged with assault. Five others were also accused of public order offences. They were: John Nevin (25), of St Michael's Park; Paddy McDonagh (70), of Dalton Park, Mullingar; David McDonagh (26) of Reask Court, Navan, Co Meath; Michael McDonagh (36), also of Reask Court; and Michael McDonagh (24) of Northern Close, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin 17.
I liked the comment on :
"The lad in the balaclava is with the Continuity Travellers"

Apparently after a prize-fight between two champions from the feuding families to decide on the 'king of the tinkers', someone didn't pay their gambling debts. Hence the house that was trashed. That's according to RTE.

George Borrow again, on the tramp through North Wales in 1854 :

We continued our way, and presently saw marks of a fire in some grass by the side of the road. “Have the Gipsiaid been there?” said I to my guide.

“Hardly, sir; I should rather think that the Gwyddelaid (Irish) have been camping there lately.”

“The Gwyddeliad?”

“Yes, sir, the vagabond Gwyddeliad, who at present infest these parts much, and do much more harm than the Gipsiaid ever did.”

“What do you mean by the Gipsiaid?”

“Dark, handsome people, sir, who occasionally used to come about in vans and carts, the men buying and selling horses, and sometimes tinkering, whilst the women told fortunes.”

“And they have ceased to come about?”

“Nearly so, sir; I believe they have been frightened away by the Gwyddelod.”

“What kind of people are these Gwyddelod?

“Savage, brutish people, sir; in general without shoes and stockings, with coarse features and heads of hair like mops.”

“How do they live?”

“The men tinker a little, sir, but more frequently plunder. The women tell fortunes, and steal whenever they can.”

“They live something like the Gipsiaid.”

“Something, sir; but the hen Gipsiaid were gentlefolks in comparison.”

“You think the Gipsiaid have been frightened away by the Gwyddelians?”

“I do, sir; the Gwyddelod made their appearance in these parts about twenty years ago, and since then the Gipsiaid have been rarely seen.”

“Are these Gwyddelod poor?”

“By no means, sir; they make large sums by plundering and other means, with which, ’tis said, they retire at last to their own country or America, where they buy land and settle down.”

(If you think the English or Welsh are dubious about travellers, just ask an Irishman about them and get your ears pinned back)

Quote of the Day (well, a few days ago)

Brute Anderson in the Indie on the Great Labour Leadership Saga :

"... who would want to lead the Labour Party? It might seem like standing to be Mayor of Berlin in May 1945"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"members of the travelling community"

The BBC apparently think that County Westmeath is in Northern Ireland - at least that's where they've put this story. Any fule know that Lough Ree is

"where the three counties meet, Longford, Westmeath and Roscommon"

Seven people have been arrested after a riot in County Westmeath involving two feuding extended families. Gardai say 200 people were involved in the violence at Dalton Park estate in Mullingar and riot police were needed to deal with the trouble.
Two petrol bombs were also thrown and a number of people treated in hospital. Trouble began at about noon when it is understood a prize fight involving members of two feuding local families sparked serious violence. Stones and missiles were thrown amid sustained fighting in the housing estate.
Blimey. It reminds me of this little contretemps round my way some fifteen year ago. I know it's dreadful stereotyping, but can you think of any community characterised by this sort of large-scale inter-family barney ? Well would you believe it ...

Several people were injured and taken to the Midland Regional Hospital in the town, where further fighting broke out between members of the travelling community. Riot police from the Garda Public Order unit were needed to quell the trouble, and the Garda helicopter unit was also sent to patrol the scene, with ambulances and fire brigade units also present. Seven people were due to appear in court in connection with the violence. Local reports say a feud has been simmering between two extended families over recent months.
One of the things that makes the police and others leery of upsetting Irish travellers too much is the knowledge that to offend one is to offend the clan.

'Twas ever thus. 1854 ...

“Only think,” said I. “And now tell me, what brought you into Wales?”

“What brought me into Wales? I’ll tell you; my own fool’s head. I was doing nicely in the Kaulo Gav and the neighbourhood, when I must needs pack up and come into these parts with bag and baggage, wife and childer. I thought that Wales was what it was some thirty years agone when our foky used to say — for I was never here before — that there was something to be done in it; but I was never more mistaken in my life. The country is overrun with Hindity mescrey, woild Irish, with whom the Romany foky stand no chance. The fellows underwork me at tinkering, and the women outscream my wife at telling fortunes — moreover, they say the country is theirs and not intended for niggers like we, and as they are generally in vast numbers what can a poor little Roman family do but flee away before them?

A pretty journey I have made into Wales. Had I not contrived to pass off a poggado bav engro — a broken-winded horse — at a fair, I at this moment should be without a tringoruschee piece in my pocket. I am now making the best of my way back to Brummagem, and if ever I come again to this Hindity country may Calcraft nash me.”

“I wonder you didn’t try to serve some of the Irish out,” said I.

“I served one out, brother; and my wife and childer helped to wipe off a little of the score. We had stopped on a nice green, near a village over the hills in Glamorganshire, when up comes a Hindity family, and bids us take ourselves off. Now it so happened that there was but one man and a woman and some childer, so I laughed, and told them to drive us off. Well, brother, without many words, there was a regular scrimmage. The Hindity mush came at me, the Hindity mushi at y my juwa, and the Hindity chaves at my chai. It didn’t last long, brother. In less than three minutes I had hit the Hindity mush, who was a plaguey big fellow, but couldn’t fight, just under the point of the chin, and sent him to the ground with all his senses gone. My juwa had almost scratched an eye out of the Hindity mushi, and my chai had sent the Hindity childer scampering over the green. ‘Who has got to quit now?’ said I to the Hindity mush after he had got on his legs, looking like a man who has been cut down after hanging just a minute and a half. ‘Who has got notice to quit, now, I wonder?’

Well, brother, he didn’t say anything, nor did any of them, but after a little time they all took themselves off, with a cart they had, to the south. Just as they got to the edge of the green, however, they turned round and gave a yell which made all our blood run cold. I knew what it meant, and said, ‘This is no place for us.’ So we got everything together and came away and, though the horses were tired, never stopped till we had got ten miles from the place; and well it was we acted as we did, for, had we stayed, I have no doubt that a whole Hindity clan would have been down upon us before morning and cut our throats.”

Purely Creative Scratchcards

The scratchcards keep falling out of the newspapers, and I still keep getting hits for this post, so here's a link to an old Guardian story about the cruises you can win.

Mrs Staveacre's trip of a lifetime goes something like this. She must make her own way from Somerset to Glasgow, fly from there to Toronto, wait four hours, take a flight to New York, wait 17 hours at La Guardia airport, make her own way to the city and embark on an unnamed ship for a cruise, destination unknown, before returning by the same route a week later. Mr Staveacre is to fly from Bristol to Newark, a week earlier, catch a connecting flight to Baltimore and from there to Miami where he must wait 14 hours and then get himself to an unspecified dock for a boat to a mystery destination. "Tempting, isn't it?" he says. Furthermore, they must each pay £599 if, having accepted this alluring package, they decide to cancel, and yet Promo Travel and Let's Go, travel companies that organise the trip on behalf of Creative, can withdraw at any time ...

"The people behind this must have spent days working out this elaborate scheme to make the 'free' cruise so unappealing that only those desperate for adventure will take it up," says Staveacre. "Since this was the only prize offered by the competition, their profit margin must be terrific - thousands of £6 premium-rate phone calls and hardly any prizes to pay for."


When I saw the news that an appeal had been launched against the sentences handed down to the perpetrators of the Wroughton hammer attack, I know I should be used to it, but my heart sank. So many times you find that, six months or a year after sentences are handed down for a dreadful crime, an appeal quietly reduces them.

Well strike a light

The Attorney General has referred the cases of Nazrul Amin, Amjad Qazi and four juveniles back to the Court of Appeal, requesting harsher sentences.

Well, ok, I also see that "Wasif Khan is to appeal separately to have his sentence cut" - but fair do's, Baroness Scotland.

Platitude of the Day

He may be a (inter alia) a man without religion, but Platitude of the Day - an ongoing review of BBC's Thought For The Day in which each contribution is ranked for - platitudinousness ? platitudinity ? - is really rather neat. A little heavy on sky fairies, invisible friends and the other rosary beads of the militant unbeliever - but still worth a visit, if only to occasionally be the yeast in the dough, or the grains of sand in the KY (the comments are mostly people agreeing with each other. Nothing wrong with that, mind).

Mind you, that's the sort of thing that got me banned from Sinking Anglicans. None so intolerant as the tolerant.

Unite And Fight Part 194

The other day I posted about the mysterious gang fight between two gangs of no appearance, in which an unknown man was killed, as well about the hideous attack on asylum seekers by a gang of far right ... asylum seekers.

The victim of the gang fight was Rashid Elahi, of Bradford. A number of people have been arrested in West London.

And a lot more on the asylum camp battle, which appears to be have been sparked by a noisy two-year-old :

Newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend that the violence apparently stemmed from a fight on Wednesday between Kurdish and Chechen women living at the center. Two Chechen women reportedly were annoyed that a fellow Kurdish asylum seeker allowed her two-year-old child to run around the center with shoes that made noise.

The Chechen women complained that their own children were being kept awake, and a fight broke out between the Chechens and the Kurds. Another refugee from central Africa attempted to break them up, but then one of the Chechen women called her brothers who lived in Oslo. They headed for the center.

Meawhile, some Kurdish men confronted and beat one of the Chechen women. That inflamed the other Chechens, and on Thursday night several arrived at the center, broke in and attacked any Kurdish refugees they could find, both men, women and children. It took around an hour before police arrived, "much too long," according to one resident from Liberia.

Tensions have long been high at the center, which houses many residents due to be deported because their asylum applications have been rejected. Frustrations can run high, and the center at VĂ¥ler is relatively large, housing up to 250 persons from all over the world.

Many have come arrived directly from wars in their homelands, they have different religious backgrounds, living conditions are crowded and stress levels high.

The combination of many people with little to do, few staff members, crowded conditions and fresh memories of violence back home can lead to more violence at the asylum center, warns Berit Berg, a researcher affiliated with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitetet, NTNU).

Other refugees from Chechnya who earlier won asylum in Norway worry that the violence last week can spark new prejudice and hurt their reputation. "There's no reason why Chechens and Kurds should be fighting," said Mouslim Kourakaev of a Chechen youth group in Oslo.

Other Chechens said they don't condone the violence, but understand it. "In our culture it's completely unacceptable for anyone to touch a woman they don't know," said Ibja-Shapi Shaihi, who joined around 50 other Chechens in an Oslo park on Sunday. He blamed the Kurds for setting off the brawl.

"They must be intellectuals: no-one else would believe anything so stupid"

Squander Two on a strain of libertarianism whose advocates follow out a train of reasoning to its logical conclusion. I think we can draw the parallel with Gabriel Oak's young sheepdog ...

As far as could be learnt it appeared that the poor young dog, still under the impression that since he was kept for running after sheep, the more he ran after them the better, had at the end of his meal off the dead lamb, which may have given him additional energy and spirits, collected all the ewes into a corner, driven the timid creatures through the hedge, across the upper field, and by main force of worrying had given them momentum enough to break down a portion of the rotten railing, and so hurled them over the edge.

George's son had done his work so thoroughly that he was considered too good a workman to live, and was, in fact, taken and tragically shot at twelve o'clock that same day -- another instance of the untoward fate which so often attends dogs and other philosophers who follow out a train of reasoning to its logical conclusion, and attempt perfectly consistent conduct in a world made up so largely of compromise.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fantasy Politics

John Rentoul in the Indie :

They have to ask themselves the Peter Mandelson question, asked when Brown was being compared unfavourably with another younger Everyman in 1994: "Who will play best at the box office?" This time the choice is between Brown and David Miliband. The young pretender is growing in stature all the time and refreshingly normal. He must be the first Foreign Secretary to throw an American football (a gift from Stanford University on a recent visit with Condoleezza Rice) around his vast office.
I must say I'd look forward to that. Mr Rentoul must have a strange idea of normality. If you wanted an archetype of the professional politics wonk, of Peter Oborne's 'political class', you couldn't do better than David Miliband. Someone more disconnected from ordinary working people I'd have thought would be hard to find.

I've noted the increasing triviality and shallowness of contemporary politics - how Mr Nice Cameron has put on the Boden chinos of that nice Tony Blair, how millions of young and not so young people love Mr Obama seemingly for little more than his skin colour (beige). Now apparently chucking a ball around the office is a good sign of premiership potential.

(Let us also remember Mr Miliband's tax avoidance)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Few Moorhen Chicks From The Curate's Pond

Gloom unrelieved for Labour :

What is holding cabinet assassins back, according to one ex-minister, is the fear that Brown will refuse to go and the rebels will not back them up when it comes to it. 'It's like when you tell a wife who separates from her husband, "I always thought he was a bastard". And then she takes him back and never speaks to you again.'
Mind you, I'm not sure I can trust anything Observer editor Gaby Hinsliff writes :

Last month's itinerary for the Foreign Secretary was interesting, to say the least: Palestine, Tokyo, Luxembourg, Brussels - and Slough. The commuter town hosts the only council Labour now controls outright in the whole of the south, a mecca for those wanting to know how Labour can recapture Middle England.

Slough ? Middle England ? Middle England in thirty years time, maybe. Has she actually been there ?

Leaving aside London, Slough can claim to be the most diverse place in England. If you were to pick any two people at random from its population of 120,000, there would be a 62 per cent chance that they would be from different ethnic backgrounds.

(En passant, the website of the now defunct Commission For Racial Equality is archived here. And here's Trevor Phillips on how diversity is good for business. So good it needs laws to enforce it !)

Private Godfrey - trench fighter. Arnold Ridley's First World War.

"His battalion had been sent to attack the Gird trench near Gueudecourt. They were dispatched without any proper reconnaissance being carried out. A lot of the battalion was wiped out by machine gunfire, but Ridley and the other survivors simply had to make their way through the trench armed with bayonets and lobbing bombs. He was hit on the head with a rifle butt and fell to the ground. The German soldier than lunged a bayonet at him, but he managed to save his own life by directing it into his groin rather than his stomach. He was unconscious for a while but did recover. Then a soldier lunged a bayonet up his hand and through his wrist. He passed out again. We can only assume that the German soldier was killed at around the same time because Ridley obviously survived."

It took 15 operations to save his hand and he was left without movement in three fingers. For two years Ridley did not realise that the rifle butt had cracked his skull. That injury would cause him to suffer blackouts for the rest of his life. Although he established a successful career as a director, actor and writer, he lived in fear of collapsing on stage.

Hideous attack on asylum seekers :

A group of more than 40 people armed with iron bars and knives has attacked a holding centre for asylum seekers in Norway, injuring more than 20 people.

Far-right thugs ?

The attack, at a centre in Valer, 60km (40 miles) south of Oslo, was sparked by a disagreement between two groups of asylum seekers, reports said. No-one was seriously hurt but 10 people reportedly needed hospital treatment. The Nordbybraten centre houses 200 refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, Somalia and Eritrea.

Remember the news that Community Cohesion Partnerships are liasing with local newspapers to be sure that no news which might 'raise tensions' is reported (unless it's a racist murder by a white person, in which case give it 24/7 coverage) ?

I thought there was something strange about this story - a gang fight and murder which made BBC radio news but has no background and no named victim. Just this one snippet leaked through from the Telegraph and Argus. Someone will get their wrist slapped.

A murder investigation was under way today after one man died and another was critically injured in a street gang knife fight. Police who were called to the incident in Gaythorne Road, West Bowling, yesterday found three men with stab wounds – three other people, including a woman, have now been arrested on suspicion of murder. The injured, a 17-year-old, 22-year-old and 24-year-old, all from Bradford were taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary. Surgeons battled to save the 22-year-old but he died shortly before 3am today. The 24-year-old, who also had surgery, remains in a critical condition, said detectives. The 17-year-old was released after treatment for a laceration. Two men, aged 42 and 25, and a woman aged 34 are being held for questioning at different police stations across the county. The murder investigation is being led by Detective Superintendent Tim Forber, of West Yorkshire Police homicide and major enquiry team. Initial reports from bystanders suggest there had been fighting for about 20 minutes between rival black and Asian gangs. One of the men had been stabbed in front of a three-storey terraced house in Parsonage Road which runs alongside Gaythorne Lane, said a witness.

I must admit I thought the Asian gangs had long taken over whate'er illicit stuff may go on in that fair city.

A third of Muslim students think violence in the name of religion is justifiable ? Be fair. Once upon a time pretty much 100% of Christians would have agreed with that.

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, condemned the study. “This disgusting report is a reflection of the biases and prejudices of a right-wing think tank – not the views of Muslim students across Britain,” he said. “Only 632 Muslim students were asked vague and misleading questions, and their answers were wilfully misinterpreted.”

Only 632 ? I'm presuming Wes Streeting isn't studying statistics - or is he ?

Labour appointed an anti-prison activist to be Inspector of Prisons and wonder why she gives the system a shoeing in every report. The new Director of Public Prosecutions is a "human rights" lawyer who's spent the last few years overturning Home Office strategies.

Mr Starmer has acted as a prosecutor and CPS adviser in the past but is best known for his work challenging government decisions in the fields of human rights and criminal law. He acted for two terror suspects in the landmark House of Lords case last year that led to the control order system for terror suspects being declared unlawful under human rights law.