Friday, August 31, 2007

Opinions

In case you'd not heard, there's a new EU treaty to be ratified. Not a constitution, oh dear me no, although it looks very much like the constitution that was previously thrown out. But because it's not quite the same, the promised referendum doesn't apply. Now Keith Vaz, former Europe minister, reckons that although we don't need a referendum, it would be desirable.
I don't agree with the assertion that government shouldn't be afraid of trusting the public with this. The public are morons. The public have made the Daily Mail the biggest selling paper in the country. The public are obsessed by a woman who died as a result of a crash involving no seat belts and a pissed driver who was going far too fast in a Paris tunnel ten years ago.
People are elected to make these decisions on the public's behalf according to the promises made in election manifestos. If I wanted the public's opinion, it'd be about the minutiae of life rather than important decisions over the future of the nation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dopes

After securing a bronze medal at the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Britain's Kelly Sotherton railed at silver medallist Lyudmila Blonska as she had previously served a 2-year doping ban.
I hope Ms Sotherton is suitably angered by another high profile medal winner who has recently returned from a ban for doping offences, Christine Ohuruogu, who took gold in the 400m.
But she won't and for why? Ohuruogu is British and we all know that plucky Brits are always at the fault of laboratory difficulties (Linford Christie) or taking the wrong cold medication (Alain Baxter) and are not dirty cheats like what them foreigners who get found out are.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What a dreary August

In media circles, August is often referred to as the silly season, what with parliament being out for the summer and a lack of any real news, by and large. This silly season has been sillier than most, what with faked sightings of sharks, whinging about established TV editing practices and David Cameron managing to make himself look more of a tit than anyone thought possible (society should take responsibility, he says. Was it not his own party that told us that society was dead?).
Here's to a more invigorating September. With less silliness.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Scotland

As service from Jerry Chicken is coming from the Edinburgh festival this week, he's tried to describe that creamy Edinburgh accent. As Al Murray says, that's type 3:



Hope that helps.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

All in the edit

Why was there such a row about TV editing lately? Is anyone that bamboozled by the concepts involved? Here, Charlie Brooker explains all, way before the shit hit the fan about the Queen and Annie Liebowitz.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Where to build?

A few weeks ago as England was under several feet of water, we had stern lectures about the disappearance of gardens. Paving over gardens for car parking or suchlike reduces the area of grass and soil which rainwater can easily drain through.
Today, as the need for more houses becomes ever more acute, we are told that the green belt must be built on. But won't doing that be much, much worse for drainage than paving over some gardens?
And all the time, brown field sites (that's derelict and/or flattened buildings in urban areas to you and me) stand idle. There's a reason for this. The land these areas occupy is increasing in value all the time, but doesn't attract the taxman's attention until such time it's built on when the buildings become taxable assets (yes I've just read Private Eye which includes an illuminating letter on this subject). Rather, such sites are generally turned over for car parking, if anything at all.
Like a small section of a sudoku puzzle, there's one way these three things - not increasing flood risk, protecting the green belt and having large swathes of urban land stand (relatively) idle - to fit together in harmony. The methods proposed over the last few weeks are not the right way to do it. You end up with two twos in the same column (sudoku analogy stretched to snapping point. Ending it now).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lightening the mood

It's been a bit low in here lately, so let's lighten it up. Here's Frank Sidebottom's football medley by way of tribute to the new football season.

Part 1:


Part 2:


May I advise you to take a look at some of the related videos from them Sidebottom clips.

And 'up the City' for the new season.

How to deal with protests

Air travel and expansion of airports is a big deal and the development of the new terminal at Heathrow was always going to attract protestors. The way to deal with these protestors is apparently by using the Terrorism Act 2000.
Whatever the issue, people have the right to peaceful protest and of course there's a responsibility on police to ensure that it remains peaceful. Using heavy-handed laws that were introduced for a totally different scenario is not a good way of policing it. The Criminal Justice Act that was introduced in the 1990s introduced a stupidly large raft of measures to limit what protestors can and can't do. Surely there's enough legislation there to ensure that if the protests get a bit heated it can be dealt with.
And here's my beef. You give police powers to deal with situation A and there'll suddenly be situations B through Z that the new powers can suddenly be applied to. Similarly, introducing 'emergency' powers at a time of crisis. Once the emergency is over, it's very difficult to remove the powers. Labelling a young lass cycling near Heathrow a terrorist suspect and locking her up for 30 hours with no charge or right to a phone call is, frankly, ridiculous and should be a source of shame for those involved.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hilda Mary Dobson

Hilda Mary Dobson (née Robinson) was born on May 3 1923 in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, and died yesterday at York District Hospital. Two months ago, she suffered a stroke from which she was making a slow recovery - very slow, but progress nonetheless. Last Monday, she suffered another stroke and yesterday she died as a result. Her husband, Arthur Ernest (Ernie) Dobson, was at her bedside.
Hilda grew up on a farm in Easingwold, the youngest of the Robinson children and was particularly close to her brother Arthur and sister Edith - the next two youngest. Whilst in her teens, the family moved to York. Upon leaving school, Hilda did what most people in York did - go to work at Rowntree's. There, she met Ernie. Their love blossomed as Europe descended into turmoil. They had plans to marry in 1942, but with Ernie away with the Navy and Hilda working at the Rover plant in Barnoldswick, it was on hold.
The Rover plant had been sequestered for munitions manufacture. Many was the story of the humour employed to see the workers get through. For instance, a bracket was once sent back to Hilda with the note "hole wrong size. Please fit smaller hole".
On September 4, 1944, Hilda and Ernie - on shore leave - were finally married. It wasn't long before Ernie was back on the Russian convoys, but a bad accident saw him break his back and he was invalided out of the Navy and back to his new bride.
They had their first child, a son, Keith, on March 3 1946 and the family settled in the Clifton area of York. Soon after, their second child, Colin, was born. As the boys grew up, Hilda returned to work at Rowntree's in the staff canteen. She was always a great cook and took immense pride in it. Her cheese scones have to be tasted to be believed and her Sunday dinners often took the best part of a week to finally finish. It was a real passion and she passed that on to anyone who wanted to listen.
Throughout her life, she was an active member of the Salvation Army, as was her sister Edith. As their relationship grew, Ernie also got involved and they were prominent figures at York Citadel. This brought them into contact with a huge number of people and the affection for which every one of them had for both Hilda and Ernie was truly shown every Christmas as an absolute mountain of cards would cause backache for the postman. People they'd not seen for years would walk through the doors of the Citadel and immediately ask where they were. Down the years, many people came to treat them as surrogate aunt and uncle and a massive number of people will be upset at the news of her passing.
In later years, they ran the over-60s club at the Citadel until age finally began to catch up with the pair of them and they retired from their years of service at the Salvation Army. It still took a few more years before they wound down completely and accepted that neither could do the things they'd spent so many years doing for others.
In recent years, Hilda's health slowly deteriorated. Stubborn to the last, she finally came to accept the help that was on offer. The first stroke saw her hospitalised and she didn't leave. Ernie wanted to be there when she finally went and he was. His sons weren't far away. While it is a hugely sad event, nobody wanted her to suffer as she was.
Hilda is survived by her husband Ernie, her sons Colin and Keith, three grandchildren, Helen, John and Matthew, and four great-grandchildren, Dominic, Matilda, Lydia and Andrew, as well as extended family around the world and an army of friends who were all touched by her warm, generous nature.
Hilda Mary Dobson was my grandmother and I miss her terribly.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

In the wrong business

Britain's largest insurer is in the news today, having totted up the costs of the recent inclement weather at about £400m. It all comes across as a bit of a whinge, given the imminent premium increases, but should it be? They're in the business of taking money off folk for insurance against a variety of events which all have a greater or lesser chance of occurring. When it goes against them, we get pronouncements such as the one linked to. At all other times, they're laughing. If paying out on some of the policies they more than willingly sold is such a problem is such a big problem, then they're in completely the wrong business.
It reminds me very much of a good friend of mine who runs a small chain of bookies. When Frankie Dettori rode through the card at Ascot that time (i.e. he won all seven races on the day), he was down about quarter of a million on the day. But he had the good grace to let me know he'd recouped it all by the time the week was out, rather than go bleating to anyone who would listen about losing money in the short-term.
Bloody Norwich Union. They want it all ways. Trouble is, they're probably going to get it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Revelation

Today I got paid for doing a job which I really enjoyed. What a complete revelation. I should do it more often.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Schools out

The schools have finished for the summer. This means parents and grandparents get to take their lovable kids off somewhere from time to time. So why take them on the train to the seaside at fecking rush hour? You morons! You've got all day. Why choose to travel when hundreds of over-wrought, over-sweaty people are also crammed into the laughably under-capacity trains? You make no sense.

August 1

Happy Yorkshire to all (both?) my readers.