All I want for Christmas....
Friday, November 20, 2020
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Just had an email titled: 'UK Planning Laws Have Changed - Find The Best Opportunities Before Anyone Else!'
It's promoting some free webinar promising:
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Thursday, September 24, 2020
This is a significant word. ‘Collaborator’ has an infamous ring to it. Mostly it brings to mind Vichy France and the Governments of other countries willing to work with the Nazis during World War Two.
And I suspect, without meaning to, Boris Johnson was subliminally thinking of Nazi totalitarianism when he imposed his latest nationwide lockdown, promising bigger fines for misdemeanours and threatening to call in the army to police the streets.
It won’t be long before your average shopping centre looks like Belfast in the 1970s with armoured cars on street corners and soldiers toting machine guns glaring with hostility at every passer-by (not to mention probably shooting on the spot anyone who dares to chat with an acquaintance let alone fails to wear a face mask).
To what purpose this novel coronavirus clampdown? To save us from ourselves, of course. We’ve been eating out to help out; we’ve been down the pub; we’ve even taken a brief holiday, probably in this country and certainly after self-isolating before, during and afterwards.
But it seems the supposed ‘rule of six’ imposed only a week ago was, within days, apparently ‘not working’, at least according to the demented statistic-peddlers Boris put before the nation to scare the children.
Chris Whitty and his sidekick Sir Patrick Vallance, the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of the coronavirus pandemic, displayed a bogus graph claiming that, without drastic action, the spread of the virus would double every seven days. By mid-October, the total would reach 50,000, they claimed.
They did admit this graph and its scary number was ‘not a prediction’. But it was misleading, dangerous and irresponsible for them to concentrate on a nonsensical statistic which, if we were to give them any credit, could be seen as a ‘worst-case scenario’.
Sadly, throughout this pandemic, the first casualty has been the truth. Nobody is prepared to admit they really do not know what might happen in any given situation. They bandy about numbers like the 50,000 - or, more terrifying still, the 500,000 originally doomed to die unless lockdown was imposed in March - without real evidence to support their claims.
Yet the health doom-mongers and their captive politicians, led by Mr Johnson who is half the man he used to be, are allowed to run wild.
They have been so successful in terrifying us all that, in some polls at least, a majority of the population even now thinks the Government has not gone far enough in protecting us.
We have a Government determined to sacrifice everything on the altar of the pandemic. The economy is shot to pieces. Much of it will never recover. Shops, pubs, clubs, restaurants, theatres, airlines, even football clubs - some of them will never re-open. Any business or pastime where people get together and socialise is doomed to decay and, in many cases, death.
Meanwhile the National Health Service has abandoned the idea of caring for the nation’s health. You can’t see a GP. You can’t get a flu jab if you’re under 65. You daren’t bother A&E. You can’t get early warning of cancer or many other fatal diseases.
Hideously, you are now much more likely to die at home of some treatable but ignored condition than you are to catch, let alone die from, coronavirus.
In one week earlier this month, according to the Office for National Statistics, one of the less untrustworthy sources of numbers, 99 people died of Covid-19 while a needless 830 died at home of other causes.
The virus panic, not the pandemic itself, is killing us and killing our economy and hardly a voice is raised to question what’s going on let alone protest.
Take, as a small example, the 10pm curfew on pubs. Even the Government itself admits there is no evidence this will do any good, reduce the rate of infection or save a single life. Yet we accept the decision with scarcely a murmur.
The totalitarian imposition of what is almost martial law across the United Kingdom - thanks to the ‘collaboration’ of the First Ministers - is taking place with the supine, unquestioning acquiescence of our politicians.
The long list of Government failings - from the shortage of PPE at the outset to the collapse of the virus testing system under Dido Harding, the staggeringly inept wife of a Tory MP who was at university with David Cameron - makes it impossible to believe a word they tell us any more.
We cannot believe what we are told. We watch with incredulity at the imposition of curfews, house-arrest, swingeing fines and a new authoritarianism we have been browbeaten into believing is for our own good.
We need fewer collaborators. We must question every statement and assertion. We must trust nobody in any position of power. They are lying to us.
Monday, September 21, 2020
Thursday, September 03, 2020
Wednesday, September 02, 2020
You can read a back issue of the ‘Sunday Times‘ or you can read ‘Close of Play‘ to see how it happens.
'Close of Play', a book about plans to build on a village cricket ground, explores what happens when the planning process goes haywire and local opinion counts for nothing.
BOOK OUT NOW ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK
AUDIOBOOK COMING SOON.
Monday, August 17, 2020
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
I’ve been banned by Facebook.
Why? I’ve no idea.
What can I do about it?
What have they said?
‘You can't use Facebook because your account, or activity on it, didn't follow our Community Standards. We have already reviewed this decision and it can't be reversed. To learn more about the reasons why we disable accounts visit the Community Standards.’
Can I talk to them and ask for an explanation?
Of course not.
Do I care?
A bit. It’s not nice being banned especially when you genuinely do not have a first clue what your transgression might have been.
Will I miss Facebook?
A bit. But as I rarely used it, I don’t suppose it matters all that much.
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
The point has finally come where I am not prepared to defend Boris
Johnson and his government any longer.
The decision to impose a face mask on the entire population is the last straw. This camel’s back has broken.
The medical evidence for the use of face masks is not overwhelming. There is some suggestion they may help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and it would seem logical that an airborne disease would be less virulent if it’s spread were to be inhibited.
Yet only a few weeks ago the Government claimed masks were more or less useless and should not be worn by ordinary people.
This, too, was based on medical advice. Not advice about whether masks prevent the spread of disease but advice that encouraging ordinary people to wear them would restrict their availability to the NHS.
This suggests that, back in March, the Government knew masks helped slow the spread of disease and wanted to protect those most at risk.
Fair enough, you may think. But it must mean the Government lied and lied and lied again about the use of masks.
Only now, when infections have fallen, the risk has lessened and supplies of masks are plentiful, does the Government change the law and make wearing face masks compulsory in shops as well as on public transport.
This represents an attack on our very humanity, never mind the fact that it is yet another imposition on our long-lost, late-lamented freedoms.
And why are face masks suddenly necessary? Supposedly to give us more confidence to go shopping without fearing the proximity of other people.
It is yet another attack on civil liberties, like the laws which made it a criminal offence to attend a loved one’s funeral or banned lovers from spending the night together.
And yet the number of deaths from Covid-19 is still lower than the number of people who died from flu just three winters ago when no precautions were taken, no impositions on our liberty were thought necessary and, in reality, nobody noticed.
Whatever happened to common sense? Of course we must avoid situations where infection might be spread, such as Black Lives Matter demonstrations, rave parties or football celebrations.
But as next to nothing is done to prevent such potentially calamitous situations, why launch an out-and-out assault on ordinary people going about their daily business?
For months the Government has been criticised over its response to the virus. It failed to prepare. It reacted slowly. It has squandered billions. It has presided over the unprecedented, totalitarian destruction of our civil liberties.
And yet we have the highest death toll in Europe. So, on any measure, the Government failed to protect us or mitigate the consequences of the virus.
I have so far argued Boris Johnson and his ministers were doing as well as could be expected in these strange times.
I don’t believe that any longer. They are lost, flailing around in the dark, timid, uncertain, so terrified of their own shadows they are clueless and they have exposed their own incompetence for all to see.
The face mask fiasco is a fine example of their failure. Either we should have had them all along or they are a mere cosmetic decoration imposed for no reason other than to make ministers feel they are doing something.
The threat of a £100 fine for not wearing a mask in the shops may give some of us more confidence. Others, me included, will merely avoid the shops as much as possible so I do not have to wear a mask or encounter other dehumanised automatons in their full timidity.
How can we hope for the world to return to normal when we are supposed to walk around in these grim reminders of the great plague?
Boris Johnson and his unimpressive chums have wrecked our economy, destroyed lives and ruined the education of an entire generation of young people.
And in exchange they have allowed the NHS to desert its post so anyone with an illness that’s not coronavirus is neglected while elderly patients have been off-loaded onto care homes where they have spread the infection far and wide.
The scandalous way this government has dealt with the outbreak is beyond belief.
The confusion over face masks is not, in itself, a reason to revile Mr Johnson and his inept administration. But it is symbolic of their utter failure at every stage.
There has been, and will continue to be, a heavy price to pay for their shambolic incompetence. I don’t see how we can ever trust this lot again.
Monday, June 15, 2020
Who wrote ‘Amazing Grace’.
He helped abolish slavery
But had another face.
Which almost sank his ship
As she returned to Liverpool
After a slaving trip.
he’d been a trader
In the infamous trade,
When human lives didn’t matter
As money could be made.
Newton was sold as well,
To an African princess,
Who starved him and who laughed at him
And caused him great distress.
Freed by a
friend of his father
He went back to the ships.
He got to captain his own brig
While making several trips.
men, women and children,
And stowed them below deck.
He threw the dead over the side
And flogged and chained the rest.
The men he
bought them from
Were African as well.
They didn’t care they’d turned black lives
Into a living hell.
he saw the light
And took another course.
BHe campaigned to end slavery
With William Wilberforce.
became a clergyman
And a writer of hymns
But his past was always with him,
All his terrible sins.
So should we
call him a hero,
Or forget time and place
And revile him for a slaver
And ban ‘Amazing Grace’?
PS: To those
who say, ‘We don’t believe yer’,
I say, ‘Check out Wikipedia.’
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
I wrote this article 12 years ago and things have got a lot worse since the Beijing Olympics:
They can’t have it both ways. Either the Games are not about the host nation or they are a showcase which allows China to get down into the arena with the big nations and flex its drug-enhanced muscles alongside Japan, Germany, Russia and the United States.
These are noble sentiments. They help to explain why we should keep politics out of sport and enjoy the competition for its own sake.
Or they would help to explain it. Except for one small problem. These are the words used at the 1936 Olympics by none other than Adolf Hitler himself.
Sunday, May 03, 2020
We have all been full of admiration for the doctors, nurses and other health workers who risk their own lives to care for others.
This should not blind us to the terrible failings in the NHS. Its organisation, management and infrastructure should not be allowed to survive unscathed.
For individual workers, this may well have been their finest hour. Never was so much owed by so many.
But this has not been the NHS’s finest hour. The selfless heroism of many health workers should not blind us to the bureaucracy’s fatal - literally fatal - ineptitude.
From before the crisis became a crisis, the NHS bureaucracy in all its bewildering variety has proved itself time after time to be inefficient, bungling, complacent, aimless and incompetent.
Of course, supporters of the status quo will argue first that the NHS has been a victim of cuts and austerity for so long it’s no wonder it wasn’t prepared. They will then claim the crucial decisions were made by politicians, as if that lets the bureaucrats off the hook.
The truth is, funding for the NHS has rocketed while efficiency has plummeted. Every extra £1 spent on the health service these days yields about 10p’s worth of improved services.
On almost all measures, we have one of the worst health services in the developed world.
Yet in the past few months Boris Johnson’s Government has been led entirely by the advice it receives from experts who work in the NHS directly or in one of its many service industries like Imperial College, London.
And that advice has been mixed, to say the least. First, there was no cause for alarm. Then there was a policy of herd immunity. Then there was lockdown.
These contradictory policies were based on flawed and contradictory expert advice. As a result we must endure the devastation of the British economy, with petrifying long-term consequences.
Meanwhile cancer patients and others with potentially fatal illnesses don’t even get to see a GP.
We were told testing was the ‘game changer’. Once we knew who had suffered the illness and who hadn’t, all would be well.
It turned out there were few reliable tests and the NHS had centralised the entire system in one location thus ensuring it would take forever to get any results.
To make matters worse, private companies and universities queued up offering help and were ignored. Possibly this was because of the inadequacy of the NHS bureaucracy, possibly because of a doctrinaire refusal to deal with ‘the private sector’ but, most likely, it was the result of a collective instinct to command and control everything even if it cost lives.
The slow and inadequate testing regime was blamed on Ministers yet they have given the NHS a blank cheque and complete freedom to deal with it. The failures lie at the door of the NHS’s overpaid executives.
The same applies to shortages of personal protection equipment. Why were there shortages?
It is more understandable the NHS might be tripped up by a shortage of intensive-care respirators but its attempts to acquire more were chaotic. Ministers, aware of the need, appealed to private businesses to make them. Many responded. Alas, again, the NHS failed to react.
Where, you might ask, were the highly-paid executives responsible for NHS procurement?
The health service employs more than 4,000 people in purchasing jobs, some of them being paid well over £100,000. Why did these executives fail to secure an adequate supply of PPE for their colleagues?
Of course, part of the problem with the NHS is the way jobs are dished out to superannuated politicians who get to sit on trust boards and pocket hefty salaries for doing nothing but attend a few board meetings to rubber-stamp the decisions of their managers. And the managers themselves have little or no experience of managing anything outside the health service.
That means they are often quite incapable of behaving in a businesslike fashion and plod on without imagination, ingenuity, creativity or any real interest in medical or financial improvements.
The entire lockdown was thrust upon us not so much to protect us from the virus as to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed with sick patients.
That’s understandable up to a point but, as a result, thousands of people with other illnesses are being neglected and driven to an early grave.
An adequate health service would ensure the cure does not cause more fatalities than the disease. Thanks to NHS failures, it is quite possible lockdown will eventually be seen as the greater of two evils.
At the moment, the whole country is in love with the NHS. We applaud and thank its workers every Thursday evening. We donate money. We admire health workers for putting their lives at risk to save ours (though the Covid-19 mortality rate among NHS staff is actually a quarter of what it is for the population as a whole).
But if and when this is all over, we must not be afraid to criticise the NHS. It led us into this war without adequate weapons to fight it and thousands of lives have been sacrificed as a result.
That is not the result of ‘austerity’ or ‘the cuts’. It is due to a whole catalogue of issues including, let us not forget, the health service’s success in keeping us all alive for longer than at any time in human history.
But the organisation has failed its staff and patients throughout the coronavirus crisis. If things get back to near-normal, we need to learn from our mistakes.
Above all, given we have one of the worst coronavirus mortality rates in the world, that means learning from other countries which do things better than us.
However much we revere it, the terrible truth is the NHS is the sick man of Europe.
Saturday, April 11, 2020
Things are getting better.
Is positively Green.
We can’t fly anywhere
Which means cleaner air.
It’s almost illegal to drive
So dandelions thrive.
We’re grudgingly free to take a walk
But don’t sunbathe or talk.
Won’t let us out on day release.
Supermarkets are out of stock,
Food’s in such fashion
We aren’t allowed out
To shop, eat or otherwise flout
Of the nation.
So many people dying
Might stop the earth frying
And at least you can see
More whales in the sea.
Jobs are being lost
But maybe it’s worth the cost
For Greta’s mission
Is lower emissions.
Now she’s got what she’s after:
It’s obviously the solution
To international pollution.
This is the aim of environmental sages:
A swift return to the Middle Ages.
Friday, March 27, 2020
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
The Chinese sneeze
Is such a tease.
You don’t know if it’s just a cold in the head
Maybe until you’re dead.
Panic-buying’s a necessary reaction.
At least we’re taking action
While Boris and co look panic-stricken
And several of their advisers sicken.
There is some refinement
To solitary confinement,
We’ve got whatsapp and such
To keep in touch
And from the cities to the sticks
There’s always Netflix.
There’s nowhere to go,
The Government says it’s best you
Stay at home or they’ll arrest you.
We have to eke out the days as a matter of course;
Unhappy couples contemplate divorce
And nasty germs spread and spiral
Like a Twitter tweet that’s going viral.
The Chinese sneeze
Has brought us to our knees.
Wednesday, March 04, 2020
Thursday, February 06, 2020
Top Royal Shakespeare luvvie Greg Doran claims young actors need to learn about the iambic pentameter, the basis of most Shakespeare plays, because it is now so alien to them.
I dare say he’s right to claim young people have ‘less experience with classic texts’ but this prompted BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme to ask if that meant the iambic pentameter in particular was in decline.
In reality, we all use it every day. It is the natural rhythm of our speech. To demonstrate it, here is a list of lines from popular music all in iambic pentameter (you could argue these are all old songs, and they are, but I bet more recent examples would not be hard to find).
I saw her today at the reception – The Rolling Stones
Please allow me to introduce myself – The Rolling Stones
Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields – The Rolling Stones
I met a gin-soaked barroom queen in Jackson – The Rolling Stones
I was born in a cross-fire hurricane – The Rolling Stones
If you start me up, if you start me up – The Rolling Stones
Everywhere I hear the sound of marching – The Rolling Stones
Childhood living is easy to do – The Rolling Stones
It’s only rock and roll but I like it – The Rolling Stones
Sup up your beer and collect your fags – The Jam
I’m down in the tube station at midnight – The Jam
A police car and a screaming siren – The Jam
A freezing cold flat and damp on the walls – The Jam
Struggle after struggle, year after year. – The Jam
And the public gets what the public wants – The Jam
But I want nothing that society wants.
If I never ever see you again. – The Jam
Let me take you down ‘cos I’m going to – Beatles
Set the controls for the heart of the sun – Pink Floyd