Monday, November 29, 2010

       RANT ALERT !!

It used to be said that sport was the last refuge for those who found it impossible to idle.  But given the strange state of the world today, I suggest the reality is that sport is now the first port of call for those, like me, who find the world impossible to take very seriously.

At the moment we are faced with things such as the Euro crisis, the Wikileaks business, the worst November weather since records began,  a weird sense of what passes for `entertainment` and a host of other issues that test our sense of reality to the limit.

I`m seriously puzzled by the fact that the UK is `lending` Ireland something like £8billion of cash when I didn`t think we had it to lend anyway.   We`re told that Ireland is such an important trading partner that it would be disastrous if Ireland were unable to continue trading with us.   So, we loan them a shedload of cash so they can buy stuff from us with the money we`ve lent them and we are seriously expected to believe that we`ll get our cash back, plus interest, one bright day?   I`m just left wondering whether the £8billion might not be better spent a litttle closer to home, which I always imagined is where  the heart was and where charity was supposed to begin.

There is worldwide panic in the air about the Wikileaks leaks.   All very predictable, of course, with governments everywhere in a tizz about what American diplomats have been saying about them and others. The American administration is reacting with outrage that what they thought was private is now very public indeed.   I`m not sure they aren`t actually outraged that they have been found out and that, rather than those countries who have been criticised being embarrassed about what has been said about them, it is America which is more embarrassed about what they have been saying about others.  All in all,  I tend to prefer the leaks  to the bluster, the outrage and the egg on face embarrassment of those who have been exposed.  And that includes our own Royal family, a member of which has been accused of `inappropriate behaviour.`  Not much change there then.
Moving on to the weather, as we here in the good ol` U of K suffer the outrageous fortunes of the worst November weather on record, I`m once more puzzled as to why we keep getting these `fuel escalator` petrol price increases designed to combat global warming.   But I now see that it was no more than a cunning plan so we have enough cash to lend to Ireland so they can buy stuff from us with our own money.

I can`t tell you how distressing it is to see that Ann Widdecombe is now dressing up as the most unconvincing Judy Garland ever conceived.   So, small wonder that I turn to sport as the most sane, sensible and rewarding refuge in these mad, troubled, Alice-in-Wonderland times. In a strange turn of role reversal, it seems the world`s `serious` people have gone a bit loopy and the sport loving fanatics have become closer to reality.

This weekend, The Saints continued to make St. Mary`s a fortress with a comfortable 3-0 win over Cheltenham in the FA Cup, giving us a home tie against Blackpool in the next round.   Charlton have a replay against Luton to get through before they travel to White Hart Lane which will give our local hero pacy flanker and his chums a chance to wreak some vicarious revenge on Harry Redknapp for `managing`  the Saints relegation a few years ago.  And Gillingham have gone yet another week without defeat, possibly helped by the fact that they didn`t have a game.

 But most of all, I have been heartened by the Ashes Test in Brisbane, where records tumbled as England held the Aussies to a resounding draw.   At least the sun is shining, really and metaphorically, on a faraway part of this crazy planet which I have long suspected as being God`s draft, so He (or She) irons out the bugs before producing the real one.  Maybe the Barmy Army isn`t so barmy after all.

Have a nice day!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I KNOW I AM, I`M SURE I AM ..

So, despite these straightened times, HM Gov. is going to spend £2million on a `Happiness Index` to find out how happy we all are and what the things are that make us happy.  Deep joy.   What seems like yet another distraction from the real problems of our times, nevertheless the announcement is an own goal, as it encourages curmudgeons like me to respond with our normal mix of incredulity and bewilderment.

I`m convinced that it is merely a gimmick because had they asked the right question then things might emerge to really inform the policy makers.  It`s no good asking what makes us happy, they should be asking what makes us grumpy.   Here`s a list for starters:-

Portsmouth
Manchester United
Ann Widdecombe
Winters
TV shows that invoke humiliation
The M25
Onions

.......and on it goes.   But you get my drift.   I can`t imagine that HM Gov. will produce a piece of legislation that will ban the sale of onions in winter outside the M25 Corridor, consign Ann Widdecombe only ever to appear in TV shows that invoke humiliation or see Portsmouth or Manchester United relegated to the Zamaretto League.   So I think I`ll give it a miss, although I suspect the thing that will make me most unhappy is having to respond to a £2million `Happiness Index.`

In the meantime - and to be fair - I am blessed with good friends, a close family, a nice dog, reasonable health, a decent standard of living and a lifelong devotion to the Saints.  Happy?  I know I am, I`m sure I am.  Possibly.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NOT SO FAST...

So, after last night`s results, you would be forgiven for assuming that the bragging rights now belong to Slightly and his Gills supporting chums.   But not so fast.

Whilst the Saints were held to a 0-0 draw against table topping Brighton before 27,000 fans at St. Mary`s and whilst Charlton, pacy flanker and all, were held to a 1-1 draw against lowly Brizzle Rovers before 13,000 fans at the Valley, the Gills went to Barnet, managed by former Gills manager Mark Stimson, and came away with a 2-1 win before a dumbfounded crowd of 2,500 at Underhill.

So, well done to Gillingham for being the only team out of the Snopper Street Three to win last night and they now seem to be on a roll after two straight wins, all of which will please Chairman Paul Scally, rock-hewn manager Andy Hessenthaler and their devoted followers.

And whilst Slightly is happily basking in the capture of the bragging rights, I am left groping for some kind of consolation as I try desperately to avoid my grapes turning sour.  And I think I may have found it in royal circles no less.  According to reliable palace sources the date of the royal wedding was fixed only after careful scrutiny of the League One fixture list.  It seems there is at least one hardened Saints fan either in the vicinity of Bucklebury or closely connected with the Middleton clan.

On seeing that the Saints are due to play the Bees of Brentford at Griffin Park on Saturday 30th April, the wedding date was brought forward to the Friday before so as to maintain the proper protocol and sense of priority.   But it would be curmudgeonly of me to reclaim the bragging rights on the strength of such flimsy `evidence,` so I will merely shrug my shoulders, wish Slightly all the best and hope he enjoys his moment while it lasts.   To be fair.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A FITTING AWARD..

In an age when `awards` are dished out like confetti at a wedding, it`s pleasing to see one which has been thoroughly deserved.   Brian Cant, the now 77-year old voice behind the children`s programmes I loved when our three sons were tiny, has at last been recognised by BAFTA.   They are going to present Brian with an outstanding contribution award and about time too.


I think our boys enjoyed those programmes - I certainly did - and for me and many others who, like me, refuse to grow up, they remain a high point in an otherwise forgettable tv history.

I`m sure they`re dancing in the streets of Chigley, Trumpton and Camberwick Green with Windy Miller (pictured) giving it large, Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb marching proudly at the news and PC McGarry keeping an eye on things.  Just in case.

Told you I hadn`t grown up.


Monday, November 22, 2010


GOLDEN POSEUR..

Following the ceremony the other day when Barney and his mate Ossie were presented with their rosettes and certificates for passing the Kennel Club Gold Award, Barney insisted that I took a few photos of him with his rosette collection.  So here`s one I took earlier.  As you can see, Barney is very pleased with himself.  Poser!

Having now got this far, Barney and Ossie have decided to rest on their rosettes for a while, much to the relief of their respective handlers, but they might re-emerge when the weather gets better and have a go at gundog training.  Well, they are supposed to be gundogs after all.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

At last the months of agonising waiting are over.  Last night there was dancing in the streets of Southampton, Charlton and even long suffering Gillingham as each of their football teams won their respective games.  This was indeed a singular event in the sporting fortunes of Snopper Street as one has to go back to the late `80s for the last time the three teams claimed the maximum nine points out of nine on the same day.

I was at St. Mary`s along with grandaughter Sarah - a rose between assorted codgers - to witness Saints demolish the Posh of Peterborough 4-1, thanks to a stunning strike from Lee Barnard, a towering header from Jose Fonte, a rasping drive from Richard Chaplow and a deft header from our very own Brazilian Guly do Prado.  Could be promotion form?

Charlton took on the Glovers of Yeovil Town and despite the enforced absence of hardworking buzzin` pacy wideman Scott Wagstaff, whose dead leg had still not revived and who is reported to be suffering from the effects of a debilitating bug rampaging through the nearby Wagstaff household, romped home to their fifth consecutive win.  Could be promotion form? 

But pride of place this week must surely go to Gillingham who had not won away from home for all of 18 months - something like 35 games - but who yesterday went to the city of dreaming spires and took the points off Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium with a narrow 1-0 victory thanks to Cody McDonald`s 40th minute strike.  Could be survival form?

My near neighbour, the Gills supporting Hurting Slightly Less of Leybourne will now surely eschew Snopper`s heartfelt offer of football related stress management counselling now that his team have finally overcome their demons and got the monkey off their backs and he might now also take the chance to rebrand his nom-de-plume, as he has much to be encouraged by.

(I wonder how many months before we see a repeat of yesterday`s collective triumph?)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

READ ON..

Had my latest visit to Bluewater today - I had hoped it might have been the last one before Christmas, but sadly hopes are fading as further visits seem inevitable in the run up to the festive season.

One of the things I look forward to on my visits is to browse Waterstones` bookshop and a very good bookshop it is too.   Sometimes I might buy a book but most times I just enjoy browsing and I have taken to  reading books in bits.   Over recent weeks I`ve started to read `500 Villages that Made Britain` by Clive Aslet.  It`s pretty expensive - £25, I think - so rather than buy it I`m reading a bit each time I go there.  I got to something like Village 187 and came across an entry for my own boyhood village of Hythe in Hampshire, which was refreshing to see - even if there appears to have been some confusion between `my` Hythe and the one in Kent which is one of the Cinque Ports.   I suppose one day my guilt might persuade me to buy it, but I might have to wait for the second edition, once the bugs have been ironed out.

Once again, a fascinating aspect of Waterstones was today`s announcement outside the shop that a book signing was to take place at 5.00pm this afternoon.   Today`s star turn was one Bret `Hitman` Hart who would be there to sign copies of his autobiography entitled, errr, Bret Hart `Hitman.`   Mr. Hart, it seems, is a famous wrestler, well known to grapple fans the world over.  He is much admired in wrestling circles and, to be fair, his tome has received some encouraging endorsements, including:-

`A LEGEND`
The Rock 

`THE BEST WRESTLING BOOK THERE EVER WILL BE`
The Sun

`A FASCINATING INSIGHT INTO THE WORLD OF CELEBRITY PUGILISM`
Pugilism Today

`IT`S A KNOCKOUT`
Stuart Hall

So Mr. Hart has much going for him and good luck to him.  Sensibly, I decided to hightail it from Bluewater well before 5.00pm which might have been just as well.  The last thing I needed was to be caught up in a piledriver, a step over leg lock or a crutch hold and slam...especially at my age. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TIME TO DISAPPEAR..
From our Royal Correspondent


Today`s announcement of the engagement between Prince William and Kate Middleton is received in Snopperland with mixed feelings.   On the one hand, good wishes are extended for a long, happy, mortgage-free, benefits-avoiding life without having to worry too much about where the next meal is coming from - a long marriage of privilege, untold wealth and a secure place in history.   Good luck to them both.

But on the other hand, there is intense apprehension about all the razzamataz, the tatty merchandising and the wall-to-wall coverage that we will be subjected to until the wedding is over and done with.   As that could be anything up to a year away the prospects for a Wills/Kate-free media look grim.

 Already the BBC has spent 26 minutes of its half hour lunch bulletin reporting on nothing else but the upcoming nuptuals, the backgrounds of the happy couple and speculation about everything from the wedding venue to the dress the bride might wear.   All this to the exclusion of things that really matter in the world today like the Irish/EU financial crisis, the war in Afghanistan, the burgeoning rates of inflation and whether hard working wideman Scott Wagstaff will be fit to face Barnet in tonight`s FA Cup replay.

But, we`re all in it together, aren`t we, says David Cameron, so maybe we can all forget about whether we can really afford the countless millions the wedding will cost in the deepest financial crisis for decades, forget about the slash and burn reductions in public services and forget about the millions facing the dole and a looming winter of discontent and concentrate our minds on the boundless joy and distraction from reality that the royal wedding will so happily bring for us all.

Snopper was unavailable for comment when I approached him just after the news broke this morning but there are unconfirmed reports that he has decided to disappear and not re-emerge until 2012 by which time it might all be over?   But he was overheard to mutter that he couldn`t see why a quiet Registry Office might not do, along with the now obligitory celebrity pre-nup and divorce insurance.  Grumpy?  You bet he is.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It`s all very well Gillingham Chairman Paul Scally saying there isn`t a news blackout ("There`s no media blackout, we have just decided not to talk to the press until after the Crewe game") but a reliable source informs me that, once again, the Gills lost at home 3-1 yesterday to  again thwart our street`s weekly quest for three wins out of the three teams we`re bothered about.

Mind you, this week the Gills weren`t the only ones.   The Saints made the 670 mile round trip to Carlisle and thanks to inept defending, which included a spectacular own goal, combined with a reluctance to stick the ball in the back of the net, came away from Brunton Park with a 3-2 defeat.

Meanwhile, Charlton produced their best away win for eleven years when they visited the `Posh` of Peterborough and romped to a 5-1 victory.   Local hero, the newly dubbed `hardworking wideman` Scott Wagstaff was brought down in the area for the most blatant penalty ever witnessed but sadly had to leave the field suffering from a `dead leg,` a condition I frequently experience even when I`m not playing football.  So, well done Charlton but boo to Southampton and Gillingham.

In the meantime, speaking of media blackouts, I`m intrigued by what`s not happening to `Sir` Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager who continues to flout Premier League rules by refusing to give post match interviews to the BBC.  That`s been going on for 13 games now since the rule was introduced and which carries a maximum fine of £20,000 for each failure to comply.   So in theory at least, Ferguson now owes £260,000 and counting but it seems the Premier League may now `only` levy a fine of £5,000 for each refusal, thus slapping a bill for £65,000 on the Old Trafford doormat.  One rule for one and all that?

Seems to me that Paul Scally might be well advised to keep his head down until Gillingham climb out of their current slough of despond and it also seems unlikely that Ferguson will relent and do as he`s required to do under the Premier League rules.  Both of which might amount to blessings in disguise for those of us who are tired of Scally`s lame duck excuses and weary of Ferguson`s unintelligible Caledonian mumblings.

Oh well, there`s always next week.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


EVASIVE ACTION..

My  last rant and a subsequent bout of correspondence with my reader (see comments under `NOT SO DAFT AFTER ALL?` below) brought back to my fading memory tales of wartime Swindon, as handed down to me by my late mother.   For a time during the war, whilst my late father was cooped up in the German Prisoner of War Camp Stalag V111B, my mother and I were living with my grandparents in their house in Hughes Street, deep within the GWR housing enclave of Rodbourne. 

To try and keep the wolf from the door, my mother got a job as a bus conductress for Swindon Corporation.  There were many times that I went with her, to be plonked on the seat at the back of the bus for what seemed hours on end as the bus made its repetative journey from one end of Swindon to the other.   I suppose I was about three or four at the time and I have often wondered  whether those times in Swindon were any better than the ones we had after we moved from there to stay with my mother`s sister and her husband at Blackfield, close to the shores of Southampton Water.

For me, at that impressionable age, at least the experience of sleeping under the stairs at Blackfield and hearing the bombing of Southampton every night seemed somehow preferable to having tedious bus rides.   I`m not sure that Swindon was bombed very much if at all and so the decision to move as close to Southampton as we did was perhaps puzzling - there must have been a good reason, although the only one I can think of was that it was part of the rotation of `homes` my mother and I had throughout the war.   We seemed to live a kind of semi-nomadic existence, spending some weeks or months with assorted relatives and always, it seemed, moving from one to another and never really calling anywhere `home.`

But I digress.  Back to Swindon and the buses.   Now, I had an uncle in Swindon with the improbable name of `Bubbles,` who was himself a bus driver, which I imagine may have been a `safeguarded occupation,` keeping him away from being conscripted.   On the other hand, it might have been because  he was completely mad.  Bonkers.  Daft as a brush.  Quixotic.  Unpredictable.  But he knew how to drive a bus.

One night, the story goes, he was driving his empty double decker bus back to the depot at the end of his shift when, approaching the Whitehouse Bridge (pictured above) he thought he saw a German plane coming out of the night sky and heading directly towards him.   He would normally have taken a turn away from the Bridge but, with a swift calculation born of panic and self-preservation, he headed straight into the Bridge knowing that he might go in with a double decker bus but possibly come out the other end with a single decker.   And so he did.   To this day, Swindon`s Whitehouse Bridge is as infamous as the town`s very own magic roundabout as this video clip explains -   http://vimeo.com/12689753  

 But maybe, after that kind of experience, my mother decided to move out of Swindon and go and live close to Southampton before she was put on the same bus as Bubbles.  Thank goodness she did otherwise I might have ended up a Swindon Town fan rather than a Saint.   And that would have been just too much to bear.

Friday, November 12, 2010

NOT SO DAFT AFTER ALL?

I was a little surprised, not to say alarmed, to see that Swindon in Wiltshire had come last in a survey carried out by BBC2 to find Britain`s `most ignorant town.`  One of the reasons for my alarm is that my mother`s side of the family all came from Swindon.  My mother, her brother and three sisters were all born there and my grandfather spent his  working life as a pattern maker in the Great Western Railway works before spending his long retirement until he died, aged 98, in what was then the GWR enclave of Rodbourne.   I still have relatives living there, so you can imagine the shock of discovering that the good folk of Swindon have apparently been revealed as the dimmest in the country. 

The survey tested the intelligence of 50 residents of each of 17 towns and Swindon`s residents seemingly struggled to name the colour of oranges, were confused about the number of legs an octopus has and hadn`t a clue as to when Advent began.  Now, over the years people from Wiltshire had gained something of a reputation for being slow witted but that reputation was founded almost entirely on the story of the Wiltshire moonrakers.

The story is simple and its message clear. A pair of Wiltshiremen, engaged in smuggling brandy, hide a barrel of the contraband from the excisemen in a nearby pond and when they return at some later time, in the dark, they are caught in the act of raking the barrel back to land.   They immediately claim that they are trying to rake cheese - the reflection of the moon - from the pond and the excisemen, amused by the apparently simple-minded rustics, leave them to it.

The moral of the story is that, despite their earthy accents, Wiltshire folk are not as slow-witted as some would believe and, to this day, people born in the county are proud to call themselves moonrakers.  Maybe they`re not as daft as the survey suggests or maybe, like the excisemen of old, BBC2 had simply misinterpreted their answers.   After all, a town that has given us Melinda Messenger, Diana Dors, Justin Hayward, Gilbert O`Sullivan and half my forebears surely can`t be as dim as all that.  Can it? 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

AN EERIE SILENCE

I started off this year by almost celebrating the fact that it was 50 years ago that I spent  my first year of a 731 day stint doing my National Service.  By `almost,` I mean that it`s by no means certain that the call-up was a matter for celebration either for me or, indeed, for the military.  

As the year has gone on, I have been recalling landmark moments in my military career , most of which were tinged with farce or mediocrity, but one which was as profound an experience as I have ever known.      

Fifty years ago, the armoured regiment which had the pleasure of my enforced company went on gunnery exercises in the Luneburg Heath area and we were `based` not far from the north-west German town of Celle.   In a rare moment of latitude, a couple of friends and I were given a little time to ourselves and we wondered what we might do with it.  I can`t recall why, but we decided on a visit to the Belsen concentration camp, which was not far away.   Given all the other attractions of time to ourselves it was perhaps a surprising decision, but it had the feeling of being `right,` almost like a pilgrimage.


We arrived, had a tour of the gruesome reminders of those horrific and inhuman crimes perpetrated by a horrific and inhuman regime and I recall how subdued we were, as we struggled to take it all in.   But the most telling moment was when we were told that, ever since those appalling times, the birds had never sang or flown over the site.  We stopped, looked and listened and sure enough not a single bird was to be seen or heard.  Eerie....but memorable.


And in this Remembrance Week, whilst we remember those who gave their lives for our freedom, I find it impossible not to remember the eerie silence that shouted out to us on that still day in that dreadful place.   For me, Remembrance Day is one thing but quite another is the sheer impossibility of ever being able to forget what I witnessed and how I felt on that day 50 years ago.


Monday, November 08, 2010

A WELCOME MOVE

First a couple of `disclaimers.`  It`s difficult, if not downright presumptuous, to comment from a distance of 13,000 miles and it`s probably more presumptuous to even pass comment on a society and a country from a position where one`s own country hangs on to some tenuous notion of sovereignty over that faraway land.

But I`ve been interested in Australia for more years than I care to remember.  It has so much going for it with its necessarily short but dynamic history and culture.  I`m even a member of the John McDouall Stuart Society which exists to honour the memory and achievements of one of the country`s greatest pioneers, who came from Dysart in Scotland.  But in a way, his quite heroic achievement - in opening up the hinterland and blazing the trail for the overland telegraph - exemplifies the `taking over` of the country by incomers and the indifference if not outright hostility shown to the indigenous population of aboriginal tribes.  

After all, they have been there for countless centuries, at one with the land, at one with nature, understanding and respecting their place in the scheme of things in the dreamland and doing rather well before the arrival of explorers, pioneers and settlers who brought a kind of presumptuosness of their own.

Over recent years, the divide in all kinds of ways between the aboriginal and incomer populations has become more recognised and things have happened to narrow that divide. For example, in 2008, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, on behalf of the Australian government,  made a formal apology for the past wrongs caused by successive governments on the indigenous Aboriginal population.  And now Australia has said it will hold a referendum on recognising its indigenous people, the aborigines, in the constitution. The aim would be to improve conditions for the country's most disadvantaged community. As a first step, the new Prime Minister, Welsh born Julia Gillard, announced that a panel of experts would lead a 12-month national debate on the issue. It's unclear when the vote would take place, although it seems unlikely before 2013.

All sounds very encouraging and another welcome move.  But a couple of things intrigue me.  The first is that, after all this time, why not just get on with it, for surely the issue is very clear and the prospect of yet more prevarication and navel gazing might simply lead to yet more distrust and disenchantment and, at worst, damage the integrity of the process.   But secondly, if this were a perfect world, surely the aborigines would be holding a referendum to include the newcomers in their own constitution?  Or is that just too presumptuous?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

GOLDEN GOLDIE..

Barney`s looking happy.  And so he should.  After months of patient training mainly by his `handler,` Mrs. Snopper, Barney has managed to pass the test for the Kennel Club Good Dog Citizen Gold Award (KCGDCGA.)  

 He had previously taken the test only to be declared `not ready` on that occasion, due to his penchant for running around saying `Hello` to everyone instead of walking to heel and staying close to his handler.  Although that tendency had been overcome, he had nevertheless developed one or two more, such as not being bothered to stop when commanded to and refusing to go to his bed when asked nicely, but a series of intensive training sessions leading up to yesterday suggested he might have got the hang of those as well .

We have known for some time that he was perfectly capable of doing all of the elements required to pass the test but, like Eric Morecambe struggling to come to terms with Greig`s Piano Concerto, Barney was playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.   Also, we were advised that taking the Gold test was a bit like taking the driving test - it depended on the examiner and how you performed on the day.   As it turned out, yesterday Barney performed all of the tests in the right order and, along with his mate Ossie, kept his natural exuberance in check long enough for the examiner to be convinced. 

So this morning I took him for a long walk through the Autumn woods at Oldbury Hill (see photos on Snopper`s FlickR pics) and just let him scamper around and enjoy himself without having to ask him to practice anything.  In a week or so, Mrs. Snopper and Barney will be attending the ceremony for the presentation of his certificate and rosette, so he`ll have time to reflect on what he might have to say in his acceptance speech.  

 Also, if he thinks that`s it and he`s cracked it, it might just be that he fancies moving on to the Platinum Award, followed presumably by the Diamond and then the ultimate test - the Dilithium Crystal Award.   But for now, he and his handler deserve a break from the white heat of all the pressure they have succeeded in overcoming.  I couldn`t be happier for them both.

Friday, November 05, 2010

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN..

We`ve been here before, I think.  Farce following tragedy, like night following day.

Some while ago, I recall being appalled by the antics of Muslim extremists in Luton, when they attempted to disrupt the homecoming parade for armed forces personnel returning from  Afghanistan.  The force of their invective was deeply offensive and whilst that was bad enough, what was even more deeply offensive was the fact that little, if any, action was taken by the `authorities.`

Now we have had the premeditated and unapologetic stabbing of Stephen Timms, MP who is mercifully recovering from his ordeal.  The young radicalised Muslim woman responsible for the attack was duly sentenced to a life term in prison following the jury`s guilty verdict which in turn gave rise to a tirade of outbursts in the court by a gaggle of her extremist supporters. Yet more demonstrations, including the one pictured, were seemingly allowed to take place outside on the street with banners  saying ‘Islam will dominate the World’, yelling ‘British soldiers must die’, and screaming that the knifed Labour MP, Stephen Timms, should be killed.

It seems unsurprising - perhaps inevitable - that at least two of the protesters are living on ­benefits, one claiming to suffer from `chronic fatigue disorder,` while they orchestrate their Islamic rants .  And as with Luton, I see no reports of any action being taken either for contempt of court whilst they were inside the Old Bailey or incitement to hatred whilst they were outside.   It`s looking once again suspiciously like there is one set of rules for them and another set for the rest of us.   It also sounds suspiciously like the `authorities` are suffering either from a fit of institutionalised reluctance or a `chronic fatigue disorder` of their own making.   Either way, it just won`t do any more.  Enough has been enough for far too long.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


FAME AT LAST?

Each week nPower, the main sponsors of the Football League, select a team made up of the outstanding individual players from matches played in the previous week.   It was very pleasing to see that our street`s diva, Scott Wagstaff, was selected for the wide right slot, along with his fellow Charlton team mate and goalkeeper Rob Elliott in the League One Team of the Week.  The team also included Saints captain Dean Hammond.

I`ve checked out the selections for the League Two Team of the Week but, sadly, could find no trace of any mention of anyone from Gillingham.   Now, I wonder why.  Who can explain it?  Who can tell you why?  Fools give you reasons, wise men never try, but maybe, just maybe, on some enchanted evening before the season is out the Gills will grab three points  only for the other two to slip up, thus providing my long suffering neighbour, Extremely Frustrated of Leybourne, with the bragging rights he has yearned for for so long.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

ALL IS REVEALED...

The mystery surrounding Scott Wagstaff`s mesmerising goal celebration after he netted the winner for Charlton against Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday, is a mystery no more.

A guest appearance on the Talksport radio programme yesterday afternoon gave Scott the opportunity to clarify what lay behind his antics, all of which is revealed in this clip from the Talksport show:-

http://www.talksport.co.uk/radio/hawksbee-and-jacobs/blog/2010-11-01/wagstaff-i-enjoyed-celebrating-doing-brick

Those of us who dwell in the sleepy hamlet we share with Scott and his family and especially those of us who also dwell in the obscure fog of yesteryear, are still none the wiser.  To be fair.
 

A CUNNING PLAN..

News that, after 140 years, prisoners are to be given back the right to vote comes as little surprise given all the other privileges which attach to a term at Her Majesty`s pleasure these days.   And also given the almost insufferable interference in our domestic affairs by the all pervading European Union.   This time the European Court of Human Rights has confirmed that, in their view, to deny convicted prisoners the right to take part in the democratic process is a fundamental denial of their human rights. 

Oh well.  Seems as if HM Gov. has given up the ghost, rolled over and said, "OK then," on the less than principled notion that it will cost too much in legal fees and compensation to carry on with the fight. 

At the same time, in yet another example of the principle of saving money being paramount, care for the elderly seems to be under threat - at least in England, for I believe that care for the elderly is free in Scotland - like so many other things that we in England are contributing to - and therefore safeguarded from any politically suicidal tendencies to do anything about it.

But here`s the thing.   Thanks to all kinds of prisoner-friendly outfits (Prison Reform Trust, etc.) conditions in our prisons have improved by leaps and bounds to the point where   human rights and other reforms have made life in prison much more agreeable with excellent accommodation, health care, catering, social activities, TVs and other home comforts. 

 I`ve no quarrel with all of that but, as the lot of our elderly and those detained as guests of Her Majesty edge ever closer towards parity, it makes me wonder whether the final solution to the perceived problems of prisoners and the very real problems of our aged population might be to put all the prisoners in the old peoples` homes and all the old folk in prison.  I`m not sure any of them would notice much difference?