The health benefits of cycling and walking outweigh the negative effects of air pollution, a UK study suggests. …read more
Chelsea and Tottenham are charged with failing to control their players and officials during and after Monday’s draw. …read more
Two GPs go on trial accused of the manslaughter of a 12-year-old boy after they failed to diagnose a disease he was suffering with. …read more
Gary Lineker should keep his promise and present Match of the Day in his underwear, Prime Minister David Cameron says. …read more
The return of the sun. We were early at the allotments this morning, but it was already pleasantly warm with blue skies giving promise of a nice day to come. Having released the hens the first task was to remove the frost-protection covers from the greenhouses and, given the forecast, we wondered if this was its swansong. If – and it is of course a whopping if – the weathermen are right we will soon be in danger of sunstroke. Bring it on – we have had our fill of mud-wrestling and hand rubbing.
Two of our members are back from a ‘package’ long weekend in Paris and tales of their adventures kept us entertained as we cleaned out the unusually co-operative hens. But one of their accounts featured a rather disturbing event, the like of which seems to be overlooked in our dear leader’s ‘Project Fear’. The daily catalogue of the perils awaiting us should ‘Brexit’ occur never mentions migration. According to Ron and Tom it should. For at the weekend they were caught up in a riot as the alighted from the Paris Metro at the Stalingrad station in the east of the French capital.
It seems that in the wake of the destruction of the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais over a thousand would-be entrants to Britain have set up camp under the station. As our heroes emerged for their sightseeing they found themselves embroiled in a mass battle between young male migrants mostly from Sudan, Eritrea and Afghanistan and hundreds of French police wearing body armour. It was violent in the extreme. Apparently the scene is re-enacted on a weekly basis as new arrivals replace those carried off in fleet of buses.
A few days ago we read that the French concept of ‘Frexit’ is more popular than ‘Brexit’ is here, with around half the population telling pollsters that enough is more than enough. We codgers are undecided about the EU referendum, but the issue of free movement looms large in our thinking and, rather than pepper us with infantile economic threats, someone needs o explain just how we propose to avoid the sort of chaos and violence that is now marring the once romantic city of Paris.
Sixty years of advice from the National Childbirth Trust …read more
High-achieving primary schools which become academies show no improvement, but weaker schools make more progress, according to research. …read more
Leaving the EU would involve years of “complex and daunting” negotiations, peers warn, but Leave campaigners say it should only take two years. …read more
The garden at the former home of a jailed paedophile couple, who knew serial killers Fred and Rose West, is being dug up by police based on a tip-off. …read more
Two police officers are sacked over how they dealt with a man who was murdered in a vigilante attack in Bristol three years ago. …read more
A woman is convicted of murdering a toddler who had suffered more than 150 injuries including brain and spinal trauma. …read more
MP Naz Shah “stands aside” from the Commons Home Affairs select committee “until current matters are resolved”. …read more
Parents are keeping their children off school for the day in a protest about primary tests in England. …read more
Had it not been for the fairy tale of “little” Leicester City we would this morning have finally concluded that money now rules the day, that stashes of the stuff can buy you absolutely anything. It seems that given enough of it you can even control the weather – a subject that looms large in every long-suffering British heart.
Having just endured a pathetic Spring Bank Holiday weekend we were intrigued to learn that the Kremlin spent nearly 86 million roubles to keep the weather fine for its May Day celebrations. A single contractor did the work, which involved dispersing clouds and forcing them to drop rain before they naturally would. The task is known as ‘cloud seeding’, and involves the use of chemicals, usually sprayed from an aircraft, which freeze the water droplets in the clouds.
These become too heavy to be suspended in the air and fall as rain to the ground. Last year, it was reported that the Kremlin spent millions to guarantee sunshine for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Apparently the technique is popular across the world, particularly in China, and has been used by companies guaranteeing good weather for weddings and special occasions. It sounds to us the perfect answer to our dear leader’s constant search for popularity – he and Gorgeous George would not miss the odd million or so and a manifesto promise of sunshine for Test Matches would surely see off the pesky Corbyn for all time.
And why not? After all, we reflected as we trooped into the Eric Pickles breakfast hut, money can buy anything and anyone. Right? Wrong! Last night we watched an eye-gougingly exciting clash between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur which resulted in the Premier League title going to Leicester City, a club ranked by every commentator back in July 2015 as certainties for relegation. It was, we all agreed, inevitable. How could such an impoverished bunch survive when faced with their hugely wealthy, entrenched rivals who compete financially not with them but with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. How could they possibly compete with Russian oligarchs, oil-rich Arabs and American speculators, with players for whom £200,000 a week was a starting point in the annual bargaining? What hope had they with a manager not even considered worthy of consideration as the cheque books were waved?
Well they did, and they have. A collection of players that includes two Manchester United discards, a tattoo parlour-owning old school stopper, bargain buys from the French provinces and a striker who was playing for Fleetwood Town four years ago has left the millionaires trailing in their wake. Team spirit, self improvement and an underdog positivity led by a gaffer for whom modesty is a virtue has triumphed and no amount of mansions and Mercedes can buy that.
For us this zany, crazy triumph echoes way beyond football. Our society is divided as never before, and each day brings some new story spelling out the unstoppable might and privilege of the rich and powerful. The basic message is always the same – we call the shots, you plebs bow the knee.
Vardy and his grafting team mates refused to read the script. And we should do likewise as wealthy politicians and tycoons alike pepper us with propaganda born of belief in their divine right to lord it over us!
QUOTE FOR TODAY: ” In the broadest terms, leaving aside Leicester’s city status, the English title has travelled back to the towns, the shires and villages of England. It has escaped London and Manchester. We can all touch it, and it touches us all”…..Paul Hayward, Daily Telegraph.
Californian singer Gregory Porter on his love affair with the UK …read more
The gap between the lifespans of rich and poor people in England and Wales is rising for the first time since the 1870s, research suggests. …read more
Music streaming service Soundcloud launches a UK subscription service to rival the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. …read more
The government’s flagship benefit reform has “serious design flaws” that must be resolved before it is expanded across the country, a think tank says. …read more
Scientists say they now have a near-perfect picture of the genetic events that cause breast cancer, which they hope will unlock new ways of treating the disease. …read more
A 36-year-old man was shot dead during an operation connected to the suspected murder of a 73-year-old man in Kent, police say. …read more
The head of a South Korean division of a UK company is hit by angry relatives as he apologises for selling a disinfectant that killed about 100 people. …read more
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams apologises for using a racist term in a tweet comparing the plight of slaves in the United States to the treatment of Irish nationalists. …read more
Another Bank Holiday, another dark wet morning. We have noticed a trend – the weekend following Bank Holidays is invariably warm and sunny and we wonder if someone up there disapproves of our fetish for days off that carry an official seal of approval. Either way the likelihood is that anyone who queued for hours in traffic to reach Blackpool’s golden sands is likely to be as disappointed as the Government which defied warnings about the risks of building a new airport on the remote island of Helena. The inaugural flight had to be aborted due to wind shear, and locals reveal that such erratic wind speeds are normal. Another £250 million down the tube!
As always on such dismal mornings we suddenly realised that the hens do not require quite as much attention as we usually pay them, and before one could say Eric Pickles we were gathered in his breakfast hut. Incidentally we did note that out beloved ex-Communities Secretary is now the UK’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues. Presumably he is at this very moment locked in debate with Ken Livingstone as he yanks more newts from his family pond.
But having heard more than enough about the Jeremy Corbyn “crisis” and the declaration by our dear leader that he no longer loves Boris, we returned to our original question. Do we really need Governments at all? Certain it is that they bring a lot of baggage with them. Westminster alone is a vastly expensive institution and its rituals, committees, spin, not to mention strange decisions such as airports unsuited for flying, account for a goodly proportion of the taxes we perpetually moan about. But how would we manage if it didn’t exist?
Surprisingly it seems that the answer is very well thank you. Since last October there has been no Government in Spain. The Financial Times has referred to the country as “enduring months of political uncertainty”, the result of the various parties being balanced numerically yet so mutually distrustful that no government has been formed. This is assumed to be a matter requiring furrowed brows and grave tones, but what has been the outcome?
The economy has taken a different view. It is bowling along more breezily than in a long time. The growth rate during the final quarter of last year was an annualised 2.9 per cent, which, in these days of dismal Euro-growth, is a star performance – easily beating the pants off Italy, France and even Germany. The improvement has continued this year. Unemployment has fallen month after month in contrast to France, for example, which has the supposed advantage of an active government dedicated to fighting austerity.
Switzerland probably has the weakest central government in all Europe. It is so puny that it doesn’t even have a minister of education. Yet Switzerland is the most successful of all the European economies if one leaves out small tax havens and oil-rich Norway. Its GDP per capita is £52,000 compared with Britain’s modest £28,000.
We probably do need Governments for some things. But not anything like as much as we think we do. Across the world, they frequently reduce growth that would otherwise take place. In fact they are at their most useful when they devote their efforts to removing their rules and controls – just getting out of the way. Governments do not generate prosperity. Businesses and individuals do.
Think about it. Right now almost the entire machinery of British government is devoted to rowing about the EU referendum. Heaven only knows how much taxpayer’s money is being poured into claims on both sides of the divide, most of them utterly absurd. But one thing that is never mentioned is what sort of government, if any, we need if we decide to ‘Remain’. Even an asthmatic ant can work out that eventually the Brussels dream of a United States of Europe will come to pass. According to your point of view that may or may not be a good thing. But either way, why would we need our own massive legislature to add yet more rules and regulations?
In essence the UK political scene consists of two large lumps, plus the SNP in Scotland. They devote most of their time to fighting amongst themselves and with each other, and the rest of it to attempting to impress the rest of us with their supposed wisdom and foresight.
Be gone we say. The Spanish experience sounds a good deal less expensive and rather more inspiring.
QUOTE FOR TODAY: ” Nearly all academic studies find that Government regulations reduce prosperity. Dawson and Seater, two American economists, estimate that extra regulation since 1949 has reduced US growth by 2 per cent a year”….James Bartholomew, The Spectator.
Why Lenny Henry is venturing into singing the blues …read more
Synthetic cannabis is having a “devastating impact” in UK prisons and the situation is “getting worse, not better”, the new chief inspector of prisons says. …read more
The women who worked at the BBC in the 1920s …read more
The carpet seller who became a multimillionaire website boss …read more
Leicester City will have to wait for another day at least to be Premier League champions after drawing at Manchester United. …read more
A row about anti-Semitism is being used by Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents within Labour to undermine his leadership, Unite chief Len McCluskey says. …read more
Former London mayor confuses agency with intention, with fatal consequences for his garbled argument
Ken Livingstone persists in mangling facts to suit his argument in his continued attempt to defend his comments on Hitler and Zionism.
He took swipes at both “old Blairites” and the media on Saturday, and cited comments made by Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, at the World Zionist Congress, seeming to suggest the comments had been made in recent days and had gone unnoticed by the media.Continue reading...
Photographs taken by Duchess of Cambridge at Norfolk home offer a glimpse into the life of the little princess
New photographs of Princess Charlotte, taken by her mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, at their home in Norfolk, have been released to mark her first birthday.
The pictures offer a glimpse of how the princess, who will be one on Monday, has grown since a snapshot of a family skiing holiday was released in March.Continue reading...
10 High Street brands that disappeared …read more
A “crackdown” on the BBC putting its top shows up against rivals’ hits is expected in the next royal charter, say some Sunday papers, while the Labour anti-Semitism row rumbles on. …read more
Sir David Attenborough opens Woodberry Wetlands in Stoke Newington, east London. …read more
The attention one pays to the daily headlines is determined by ones interests, and this morning our eyes skipped those concerning the latest EU stuff by the nice Mr Major, and settled instead on warnings of what the comics call a “Summer of slime”. It seems that slugs and snails usually hibernate in the cold months, but temperatures were so high last winter that they carried on breeding. The result, experts tell us is that gardeners face a siege this year once the vegetables appear. Not good news for a bunch of old allotments codgers, and this morning there was much talk about defensive tactics.
But as we tired of the debate about letting the hens loose to eat the slugs – a less than attractive option given that they would also eat the plants – it occurred to us that a goodly percentage of the approaching slime is of the human variety. On the basis that anyone who loves newts can’t be all bad, we have long held a soft spot for the roguish Ken Livingstone. Now we wonder if he has finally taken leave of his senses. For reasons unknown he decided to rush to the rescue of an MP who had already apologised for crass anti-Semetic remarks, but had been suspended by the Labour Party. For even more mysterious reasons he then decided to mention Hitler. As he hid in a toilet he answered questions from tabloid reporters in an innovative form of press conference.
Now he too has been suspended, and Her Majesty’s opposition has decided to stage an internal war during the run up to the local elections. Not to be outdone in the art of self-destruction the party of Government is busy staging a war of its own with the unholy alliance of Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith and mad Boris trading insults with Gorgeous George. It is slightly worrying to reflect that this seething mass of political slugs are in theory at least running the country. Even more worrying is the spectacle of the dashing Nigel Farage giving them all a lecture about the need for respecting racial equality.
For our part we can only repeat what we have often said. Every human being is just that, and anyone who believes that any are superior as a result of their colour or way of life is an evil idiot. Yes we hate the likes of Isis, but that is because of what they do, not who they are.
So whether it be racism or lies about the wonders of the EU, the whole political scene is a depressing one. The only consolation to be had this morning came from the latest poll which shows that less than one per cent were influenced by the EU lecture from President Obama – roughly the same percentage as that in the United States. Perhaps the revelation by his security intelligence chief that open borders are leading to a slug-like breeding rate for Islamic cells in the UK has something to do with that?
Having attention spans of limited duration we moved on to other things as we munched our way through yet another Eric Pickles breakfast in the warm hut. We are sorry to see BHS in trouble, and bemused at the hoo-hah about the need to take away Philip Green’s knighthood. We are in no position to understand what, if anything, he has been up to but wonder for the umpteenth time why the fate of loyal employees should depend so casually on the unfathomable machinations of tycoons.
At least no one has yet decided to dub John Whittingdale – other than his former lady friend who apparently charges for a form of the service. We mention that, having noticed that once again the esteemed culture secretary’s think-tank is calling for the “wholesale privatisation of the BBC to combat its bias”. The report says that the case for axing the Beeb is “multi-faceted”, whatever that means. The truth is that both major parties accuse the BBC of bias, by which they mean that it dares to question the rubbish they pour forth. Equally true is that few of us enjoy having our evenings punctuated by endless stupid ads. And a subscription to Sky cost more that the licence fee – and you still have to endure ads.
Anyway our focus this weekend will be on the Premiership and the probability of “little” Leicester City winning it. Either way we must treasure the dying season, for our dear leader tells us that a Brexit will lead to the end of football as we know and love it.
Pull the other leg Mr Slug – it has bells on it!
QUOTE FOR TODAY: ” It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish!”….Aeschylus.
The lake that people used to flock to …read more
Increasing symptoms of depression in older age could indicate early signs of dementia, say scientists. …read more
Newmarket, the birthplace of modern racing, turns 350. …read more
Eleven people are found dead and two are missing after a helicopter carrying 13 people crashed near the Norwegian city of Bergen, rescuers say. …read more
British Cycling commissions a review to uncover whether there are “fundamental behavioural issues” within its World Class Programme. …read more