Monday, February 28, 2011


SLIGHTLY ANNOYED...

The above is the image which has appeared on my computer since Saturday morning.  Ever since then, I seem to have been in constant communication with gentlemen in Sheffield, Mumbai and other un-named venues in herculean efforts to get back on line.

But me being able to compose this post and you being able to read it, is evident proof that I have finally succeeded in overcoming the problem.   It seemed to all stem from an `outage` in the fibre optic cabling in this area and which, in turn - and to borrow a technical term - buggered up my router.   Mrs. Snopper was also unable to use her laptop, so there has been a feeling of being cut off from the outside world for the last couple of days.   It`s an old truism, of course, that you never realise how much you miss things until you don`t have them any more.

Anyway, all is well now, so Mrs. Snopper and I are back in business with just the odd regret that there might have been things we have missed out on over the weekend.   But none of those would come even remotely close to the distress caused to my neighbour Mr. Slightly, who was also affected by the `outage,` when he was unable to place his online pony with William Hill for a double accumulator predicting a 4-1 home win for Saints and a 0-0 away draw for his beloved Gills.   As these results actually came to pass, I can only guess at the anguish he and his family are suffering as they dream of what might have been with his winnings.

At least I have the consolation of now knowing what an outage is.

Friday, February 25, 2011


GET IT RIGHT THIS TIME..OR ELSE

So it`s General Election time in Ireland today and the favourite to become Taoiseach is Enda Kenny, Leader of Fine Gael and pictured here with the EU Commission`s head honcho, Portuguese Juan Manuel Barroso.

In his first press conference of the campaign,  Kenny said he could gain favourable changes for the Republic from the IMF and Ireland's European partners, saying he would go back to Brussels to renegotiate the IMF-ECB (European Central Bank) deal to bail out the Irish economy, although this would focus mainly on the interest payments Ireland has to pay to international bondholders.

Now I confess to only a partial knowledge of Irish politics, but Kenny sounds like he might not cause Barroso and his chums too much bother, in which case I imagine that, if the good voters of the Irish Republic elect someone else, then the EU will simply ask them to keep voting until Kenny gets the job.

Well, it won`t be the first time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DOWN TO THE WIRE..
All Quiet on the Footy Front

It`s all gone a bit quiet on the Snopper Street football front.  Last Saturday saw another defeat for Charlton who, in front of their biggest crowd of the season, slumped to a dismal defeat by Exeter City, managed by former Saints favourite Paul Tisdale.   That`s two defeats in a row and coincide with the fact that our street`s pacy flanker has not been in their starting line-up, thanks to some bizarre managerial decisions by Addicks new gaffer, Chrissy (`The Legend`) Powell, who can`t expect Waggy to produce a game changing cameo if he`s only brought on with three minutes to go..

Also last Saturday, the Saints had made the long journey northward to take on Rochdale at their Spotland ground, only for the game to be postponed due to a waterlogged pitch....and I thought they bred them tough oop north.

So, once again the bragging rights went to Gillingham who  gathered our street`s solitary point with a 1-1 draw against the Shakers of Bury.   I`ve got mixed feelings about Bury.   They`re called the Shakers ever since a distant Chairman entered the dressing room before a local Derby game and passionately exhorted the players to "shake `em.  In fact, we are the Shakers"....and the name has stuck ever since.   They`re also managed by an ex-Saints player in Alan Knill.   Bury`s downside is that it was the first club of the Neville twins, spawned by their father Neville Neville and who I hold entirely responsible for producing Gary,  one of the most annoying characters ever to wear a Manchester United shirt.

Last night saw the Saints held to a 0-0 draw even further oop north  at Hartlepool, where Charlton had come unstuck the week before.   The Gills didn`t have a midweek game but Charlton are away on Friday night to the world`s oldest football club, Notts County, in front of the Sky cameras.  

The situation at the top of League One is very tight.  Brighton look to have promotion in the bag but there are about eight teams vying for the other automatic promotion spot.   With 18 games left, Saints should be favourites with games in hand, but they, like their rivals, have been stuttering of late and so anything can happen.  

Looks like it`s going down to the wire.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

MOVE ALONG PLEASE...

The picture shows ex-Second Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, being taken in for questioning following allegations that she was seen lurking outside a `sex shop` in London`s Soho.  

Ms. Smith or, more properly, Mrs. Timney, was you may recall forced to resign from the last Labour Government over the expenses scandal.  She is now allegedly claiming in a BBC documentary to hit the airwaves on Thursday evening that the reason she `fell from grace` was because she was a woman and people expecdted her to be at home looking after her husband and children, rather than strutting the stage of political power in one of the great offices of state.

She seems to forget the real reason for her demise was that she claimed on expenses some `adult` films rented and watched by her husband who was, incidentally, also on the public payroll as Jacqui`s `parliamentary aide.`  So cosy.   Then there was the question of her second home allowance, when she claimed that a bedroom in her sister`s flat was actually her main residence, rather than the family home in Redditch.   Quite properly, the voters of Redditch had had enough of this institutionalised fiddling and voted her out of Parliament.

Apart from the self-delusion that she was a victim in all this, it seems she is now keen to earn a few bob and where better to do so than from the left-leaning BBC, where Radio 5 Live will be airing her documentary about pornography on Thursday evening, hence her data gathering Soho lurking.

Now it`s one thing to go on about Jacqui Smith and her hopeless quest for redemption, but I suspect the real villains of this particular piece might well be the BBC themselves, who for some reason see fit to hand over licence-payers` money to this political has-been for a documentary that promises to be more about self-denial than informative.

If Jacqui Smith had any sense, she would just move along, keep her head down and melt into the background and if the BBC had any sense, they would be much more circumspect about how they spend our compulsory licence fees.

Monday, February 21, 2011

THE LOST ART OF SCRUPMING..

Yesterday for Sunday lunch, we had one of Mrs. Snopper`s home made, cordon bleu apple pies and very nice it was too.    I think it was Carl Sagan who said that if you want to make an apple pie, first you must create the universe.   And important parts of that universe are, of course, the orchards here in deepest Kent which have provided an abundance of fruit over the years - it wasn`t called The Garden of England for nothing.

As part of a kind of rustic ritual, for years now I have been walking our dogs around the assorted orchards, especially at harvest time.   Now I have to be careful here not to give the wrong impression, for the last thing I need is to be accused of stealing the farmer`s crop and finding myself transported to the colonies, but I have to admit that by some miracle of providence, the occasional item of fruit has found its way back to chez Snopper, hence yesterday`s apple pie.   That is until this year.

I always take a plastic bag with me on my dog walks, ostensibly to gather up any `items` Barney might leave on the paths but it is strange how, at harvest time, the lost art of scrumping comes to the fore.   Scrumping, like Morris Dancing, is an Olde Englishe Custome, whereby peasants would gather surplus fruit to see them through the winter and this is a custom that I have tried to maintain, especially given our plight as an elderly couple struggling to survive on a fixed income in the harshest winter we have known for years.

Somehow, when I returned home, I would find that my plastic bag had  been filled with assorted apples, plums and pears - all having fallen to the ground and running the risk of going to waste.  I`m guessing, but I wonder if the word `scrumptious` has its origins in this ancient custom, especially as anything scrumped always seems to taste better than anything `bought.`

 Last autumn I mourned the fact that a much loved Victoria plum orchard had been razed to the ground, bringing an end to years of plum scrumping.   In the last couple of weeks, I have noticed that a Conference pear orchard has gone the same way, along with a large Bramley apple orchard. 

Enquiries have revealed that these orchards are now to be given over to the production of wheat, suggesting that the bottom has dropped out of the Kentish fruit market having been replaced by lookalike fruit from China, Taiwan and all points east.   Maybe Mr. Kipling is getting his exceedingly good Bramley apples from elsewhere.  And so, as my years of perfecting the art of scrumping seem to be coming to an end, I`m beginning to wonder what Mrs. Snopper might make from scrumped wheat.   Something scrumptious, I hope.

Friday, February 18, 2011

WAYS TO GO...

Our muse to the aged  Medical Correspondent`s `article` yesterday about the wellbeing of the elderly population got me thinking about what options might be available for ways to leave this world.  What also jogged my consciousness was a most unfortunate incident that occurred at St. Mary`s Stadium last Saturday.   Following Saints` narrow 1-0 win over Carlisle United, an elderly 85-year old Saints fan collapsed and died in the gentlemen`s toilet after the game.

 Now, I like other Saints fans was saddened to learn of this tragedy but, without in any way wishing to appear `indelicate,` the gentleman in question was able to depart in one of the three ways that I might find acceptable .  Being called to the great stadium in the sky in such a manner would, for me, be one of them, especially after a home win.  The second would be having just birdied the notoriously difficult par 3 sixth at Hever Castle`s Princes Golf Course (actually parring it would be ok - even a bogey might do.)   And the third would be to wave goodbye having been on the nest - an option which nowadays seems less and less likely now that the law of diminishing possibility has kicked in.

But there you go.   I do genuinely sympathise with the Saints fan`s friends and family but I wonder if he might not be looking down, smiling benignly and thinking that the nature of his departure could have been so much less memorable than it was.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT..
Our Medical Consultant reports

I`m often asked by worried pensioners about the problems of getting older and I was recently  contacted by Mr. Snopper to ask whether it`s worth him carrying on with the health checks he has been having regularly up to now.  My answer was yes, of course, keep on having those vital checks because, as we grow older, so the chances increase of things going wrong, bits falling off and with loss of memory it`s easy to forget to make appointments and stuff like that.

So I was pleased to hear that Mr. Snopper has now just about finished his round of annual check-ups.   Reminiscent of MoTs for cars, he first saw his optician, who bears a striking resemblance to Nicole Kidman and it seems that Mr. Snopper`s eyesight is still as keen as ever, no doubt fuelled by his determination to feast his eyes once more on the fair Ms. Optician - an event he looks forward to each year.

Next, he had an audience with the Practice Nurse at the local GP clinic, who took a blood sample to test his cholesterol level and the functions of certain vital organs, along with a blood pressure test which proved `satisfactory.`  The results of the blood test won`t be known until next week, when they are returned from the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.   This afternoon, he visited his dentist, who can`t be named for legal reasons, and apart from the odd filling, wash and brush-up, came away unscathed for another six months.  

 So you see, there`s nothing to it really.  After all, if Mr. Snopper can do it at his age, then so can anyone.    So I urge all my elderly readers to stop worrying, get a life and just be glad that there are people out there who can help you drift almost unwittingly into the dreamworld of your days which you will find are increasingly filled with delusion, bewilderment and a dull sense of detachment from the world around us.   Who could ask for anything more?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


PASS THE PORT...

Something caught my eye today that took me back half a century.   It concerned, of all things, the huge amount of money doled out to councillors in local authorities up and down the land.  Figures just released show that the sum paid out to local councillors topped £200million in the last year.

The reason it struck a chord with me is that, in the formative years of a former life, I worked for local councils in the era before  expenses on that scale were even thought of.   In those days, there were other differences too, for example, elected councillors were addressed as `Mr` `Miss` or `Mrs` and today they are `Councillor....` which gives them a title, a sense of status, almost of entitlement.  

 Expenses were first made available to local politicians in the 1970s – and in the 1990s, allowances, or pay, for councillors were introduced to reimburse local councillors for their time. But the effect has been to produce a generation of professional town hall politicians.  There seems to be a basic allowance running into thousands of pounds, just for turning up at meetings and `special responsibility allowances` for councillors who chair committees, lead councils, have cabinet responsibilites and the rest.   Then there are travelling and subsistence allowances and the bill keeps ratcheting up and up and all these payments combined mean that it is not unusual for some `leading` councillors to take home £40,000, £50,000 a year and upwards.  

The age of the professional politician indeed.   But they don`t have to do it.  They volunteer for election.  And whilst the age of the amateur local councillor may be long gone, they at least had the merit of either doing it for the kudos or out of a spirit of community - maybe they were the days of the big society after all.  So one is left to question the real motives behind the huge number of present day councillors in county and district councils - not forgetting parish councils who themselves have been muttering about paying themselves allowances in their Dibley-esque fiefdoms.

My suspicion and fear is that, rather than any spirit of public service being the guiding light, if over £200million a year is there to be shelled out, then it`s a nice little earner.   Just at the very time when council staff are losing their jobs and services are being reduced and I just wonder whether our elected representatives are able to maintain any grasp of reality all the time they are allowed to treat themselves so generously with other people`s money.

Reminds me of Ipswich Town Football Club in the old days when the Cobbolds ran it from their boardroom and when, for them, they were not too concerned with what was going on on the pitch but got very exercised when their supply of vintage port was running low.  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A GAME OF TWO HALVES..

Wayne Rooney scored a remarkable goal yesterday to give Manchester United a 2-1 win over local rivals Manchester City.  I`ve already lost count of the number of re-runs being shown on television and this morning`s sports pages are full of the wonder of it all.

Now, afficionados of these pages will know of my deep seated aversion to anything connected with Manchester United but even I have to grudgingly admit that Rooney`s effort was spectacular.   In fact, it was just the kind of thing that you might reasonably expect for £200,000 a week and counting.   Rooney`s image rights income will doubtless also add to the multi-millions he has already acquired, along with his endorsements, appearances and all the other stuff that goes with the overblown, overhyped, Alice-in-Wonderland world of the Premier League.

Meanwhile, a few steps down the rung of the football ladder, a League One game was played at Charlton`s Valley ground yesterday between the Addicks and the `Posh` of Peterborough United.   The fact that Charlton won the game 3-2 is encouraging for Addicks fans as it keeps them well in contention for promotion to the next level at the end of the season.   But the game also saw an incident which brought into sharp focus the difference between the Rooneys of this world and those other professional footballers who ply their trade away from the glare of celebrity.

It concerned our street`s local hero, Scott Wagstaff, who has made a telling and consistent contribution to Charlton`s fortunes this season.   After half an hour or so, he was involved in an innocent clash of heads with a Posh defender.   Scott received `treatment` from the Charlton physio, carried on playing, but was substituted at half time.   I knocked on his door this morning and heard his tale of how, for the rest of the first half, he was suffering from blurred vision and wasn`t at all sure where he was.  At half time, he was sick, had a blinding headache and it was obvious that he was suffering from concussion, which sensibly led to him being substituted, carted off to hospital for a check-up and soon discharged.

Now, in rugby union, a player suffering from concussion is automatically banned from playing again for some time but in football, it seems, no such ban is imposed so Scott, now happily feeling `ok,` will report back for training tomorrow and no doubt board the team coach for the long trip to Hartlepool who Charlton will be playing on Tuesday evening.

Some of the intelligensia on the Charlton Life fans forum are pretty scathing in their `assessment` of Scott`s contribution to yesterday`s game but these are the cyber experts who know nothing of what really went on, are slow to bless, quick to chide and equally quick to profer their opinion in the misguided notion that anyone else is interested.  

This morning and for days to come we will have the unending, almost Messiah-esque praise of Rooney and his goal, whilst in football`s more modest, quieter foothills,  Scott Wagstaff faces the prospect of an overnight stay in Hartlepool before the game on Tuesday evening at their windswept, crumbling Victoria Park and then the long 280 mile journey home in the wee small hours of Wednesday morning.   Football, you see, is a game of two halves in more ways than one.

Friday, February 11, 2011

INNINGS CLOSED..

I was sorry to hear of the passing of Trevor Bailey yesterday in what were distressing circumstances.   When you reach the age of 87, after a full and rewarding life, you really don`t deserve to die in a fire in your retirement home.   It just made his passing so much more tragic and poignant.

Trevor was one of only two of the Test Match Special team who featured in this vinyl LP from years gone by.   John Arlott, Brian Johnston and Fred Trueman had already passed away and now with Trevor Bailey going, only Christopher Martin-Jenkins remains - and long may he continue to do so.

Bailey played 61 times for England in a ten-year career between 1949 and 1959.   He will be best remembered for his heroic partnership with Willie Watson at Lord's in 1953, that lasted four-and-a-half hours and secured England a memorable draw against Australia. The draw helped England to a famous Ashes series win, their first in 19 years.  Bailey, who played for Essex throughout his career, was nicknamed 'Barnacle Bailey' for his determined, defensive batting. He scored 1,000 runs and took 100 wickets in the same season on eight separate occasions and was one of only 10 Englishmen to score over 2,000 runs and take over 100 wickets in Test matches.    He later became a hugely popular pundit during his many years on radio's iconic Test Match Special programme.

He was one of the heroes of my boyhood, along with the likes of Harold Gimblett and Derek Shackleton.   But there was something different about Trevor Bailey and it`s difficult to pin down what it might have been.   I suspect it may have been because he represented something of a transition - a crossover even - between the days of the Gentlemen and Players to the more professional cricket we have today.

In many ways, for all his heroics on the field of play, he was something of a patrician character, blessed with a very `proper` vocal delivery and a bearing that was never condescending but which teetered on the superior.   They were the days of the gentleman cricketers  - the Doug Insoles, Freddie Browns, Norman Yardleys - who held sway in  class ridden pavilions but who nonetheless played the game for the love of it.  

The big turning point was when Len Hutton was appointed as England`s first professional captain and it always seemed to me that Trevor Bailey epitomised those few cricketers  who straddled between gentleman and player with effortless ease, making him  universally popular, admired and respected.

I am not only sorry that he has gone, but also desperately sad that he should perish in the way he did.   He, his family, friends and admirers all deserved a more fitting end to a remarkable life.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


THINGS ARE LOOKING UP?

A beautiful day yesterday here in deepest Kent.  Sun shining, cloudless blue sky, light breeze and the temperature had rocketed to about 9C.   So we decided to make the most of it, put Barney ion the car and drive down to Minnis Bay, near Birchington, where I took this photograph.

We walked along the beach as the tide was out and then continued along the coast path (part of the Viking Trail and the Thanet Coast Path) towards Reculver Towers.  We didn`t quite make it all the way but we walked about five miles, by which time we and Barney were slowing up.   But it was a lovely sea walk that was particularly enjoyable on such a balmy day after what seems like months of grey and gloom.   Along the walk there is plenty to see and we passed a salt water lagoon, a working oyster farm and lots of different sea birds including turnstones, sanderlings and assorted gulls.

We have promised ourselves that next time we will drive to Reculver and retrace our steps to complete the seven mile walk.   Reculver is an interesting landmark along the north Kent coast - much more about it here - http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/reculver-towers-and-roman-fort/

But I think what I enjoyed most was having the freedom, the time and the good health to be able to do things like that, on a whim, and for just a fleeting moment, I thought about all those who can`t do that sort of thing for whatever reason.   Sometimes I count my blessings.   Yesterday was one of those times.

Monday, February 07, 2011


A WHIMSICAL INTERLUDE...

Yesterday`s reverie about the Itchen Bridge brought back memories for me of the river crossing before the bridge was built in 1977. 

This painting by LS Lowry - the original of which is in Southampton Art Gallery - is of the Floating Bridge, a vehicle and passenger chain ferry that crossed the Itchen River from Woolston on the east side of the river to Southampton.   The  Woolston Ferry, to give the Floating Bridge its proper name, originated in 1836 and was operated by Southampton City Council before it was supplanted by the new Itchen Bridge.   Ten days after the new bridge opened, the Floating Bridge sailed for the final time. Over the 141 years of its existence, thirteen different barges had sailed across the river. The final barge was numbered 14 to avoid any bad luck! One of the decommissioned ferries was turned into a nightclub!

I recall as a boy being taken by my parents for a ride on the Floating Bridge, just for the hell of it - it was something of a day out but also something of a rite of passage.   At the time, we lived at Hythe on the western shore of Southampton Water and we used to travel to Southampton using the Hythe Ferry, which still operates today.   There was then a walk along to the Floating Bridge `terminal` and we then had what would now be the dubious pleasure of riding across to Woolston, before heading back for the return journey.

Although the Itchen Bridge is a magnificent construction and has made life a lot easier for travellers between Woolston and Southampton than the Floating Bridge ever could, nevertheless there is still a lot of nostalgia for the old crossing and the Floating Bridge is remembered with great affection by those, like me, old enough to remember it.   Perhaps that affection is best reflected in the `Woolston Ferry Song,` recorded by Gutta Percha and the Balladeers.  Here it is - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul2DYr1iDlw

Told you it was whimsical, but I`m afraid that`s what my blog is all about really. 

Sunday, February 06, 2011


LEMMINGS CLAIM BRAGGING RIGHTS..

This is the majestic Itchen Bridge, which carries traffic and pedestrians over the River Itchen in Southampton.   It has been a popular gathering place for Saints fans after years of  seemingly endless disappointments inflicted by their football team In the top left corner of the picture, you can just make out St. Mary`s Stadium and how portentous it was of the Samaritans to place their notice and emergency buttons at the highest point on the bridge.

Now, yesterday`s televised 4-4 draw away to Peterborough saw the usual extreme reactions by Saints fans to the fact that, having been two goals ahead twice in the game, it ended in a draw, thanks to a last gasp penalty awarded to the home side.  You see, the message boards of Southampton FC fans seem split between those, like me, who shrug our shoulders at what might have been, move on at the end of the day and wait to see what next week brings:  and those for whom a draw away to the league`s highest scorers seems like the end of the world.   They are the ones who, had the game been played at St. Mary`s and ended like this one 4-4, would have headed for the highest point of the Itchen Bridge.

In other news, Gillingham continued their unbeaten run with a reportedly dull 0-0 draw at home to Oxford but Charlton managed a 1-0 win away to the Glovers of Yeovil Town.   Not a lot of bragging rights to be had this week in Snopper Street, it seems, so in a fit of desperation I put forward the proposition that Southampton at least has a nice high bridge spanning a wide river where disenchanted fans can gather for their lemming-esque post match wakes, whereas as far as I am aware, there is a distinct shortage of high level bridges and wide expanses of water in both Charlton and Gillingham.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Well, it`s that day again - 4th February every year brings back memories of my 731 days doing my National Service with the 10th Heavily Armoured Royal Hussars and my role in their Retreat Division.   But this 4th February marks the halfway point of my enforced military career, as at noon on this day in 1961 - exactly 50 years ago - I had completed 365 and a half days and was now embarking on the second 365 and a half days (just my luck that there was a leap year which accounted for me doing the extra day.)

But it was downhill all the way now.   I had become a highly tuned lethal killing machine;  well at least on the pinball machine in Fritz`s bar down the road.  I had mastered the curious world of military language (language, military for the use of);  I could by now  turn smartly left, right and right around and I could respond instantly to being barked at by sergeants, officers and anyone else who fancied a good bark. 

On the positive side, I had risen to the dizzy heights of Lance Corporal;  I had become part of the Regimental football squad and, most importantly, had cemented my part time role as a fully trained projectionist in the garrison cinema.   I had long been accepted as a member of the PA Club, following my downing of the entry level eight litres of Fritz`s finest in one go and I had also been accepted as a member of the National Service Ticking Association, whose role in life was to tick (a mild but constant form of grumbling) about anything remotely military, especially barking.  

So, I faced the second half with renewed optimism, knowing that each day would bring me a day closer to release from this conscription.   There were, therefore, things to look forward to, not least the prospect of getting married to the fragrant Mr. Snopper in July, 1961.   So this year, 2011, we have our 50th wedding anniversery - a long and winding road and one which absolutely did not start out with the incentive of getting three weeks leave from the green hell of BFPO 16 and an increase in pay to that of a married NCO which, for National Servicemen, rocketed to something like £3.50 a week.  No, no - nothing like that, for the real reason for my proposal was the dreadful prospect that if I didn`t ask her, then there were plenty others back in her home village who would.

But thank goodness for my cinema projectioning, which paid relatively handsomely, such that when I finally managed to escape the clutches of Her Majesty`s pleasure, Mrs. Snopper and I were able to buy a houseful of furniture on my nocturnal earnings - not the house, just the furniture.   And I got to see a lot of films too, but very few of which were as funny, entertaining, dramatic and simply memorable as my time defending western civilisation from the communist hordes.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


I`M A VOTER - GET ME OUT OF HERE..

It was the unelected judges of the European Court of Human Rights who decreed that prisoners in jail should have the right to vote at elections.

Now, call me old fashioned, but I was always under the impression that if you are found guilty of crimes and misdemeanours and are given a prison sentence, then with that sentence goes the loss of rights and privileges.  But it seems the European Court of Human Rights must be obeyed by the sovereign nations of the EU and so it is incumbent upon the parliaments of those sovereign nations to amend their laws to give effect to the unelected judges` decisions.

The `judgement` in this case is causing quite a fuss at least here in the UK - it might simply be being ignored in certain dark corners of the EU, but being British we don`t do things like that, do we?   So it`s up to the Westminster Parliament to do the EU`s bidding once again.   But there`s a problem.   It seems what might prove to be a majority of Westminster MPs don`t like the judgement, they think it`s wrong and I`m pretty sure they`re fed up with being told what to do by this inflated, self-important, unelected group of legal beagles.

So it will be interesting to see what comes of it, especially now that David Cameron has apparently agreed to give MPs a free vote on whether to amend the law to bring it in to line with the Human Rights Court decision.   I suppose that Cameron`s agreement at least shows that there might be a little more backbone being employed here rather than just rolling over, which has been the default position for HM Gov. on most matters EU for too long.   But, of course, the issue now becomes more fundamental than just whether assorted scamps, rascals and malcontents should be given the right to vote.  

It could well be a defining test of our expensive £10billion a year `relationship` with the EU, for not only could it be that the judgement in this case is defied but also, consequently, that the human rights of a vociferous minority should not be allowed, yet again, to override the legitimate rights of the silent majority.  

If you get the impression that I don`t like the EU, I don`t like the Court of Human Rights, I don`t think that convicted criminals should have the right to vote, I don`t think we should be told what to do in our own backyard by a bunch of unelected foreign judges and in these awful economic times I don`t think we`re getting value for our £10billion a year.....then you`re not wrong.

Nurse - time for my sedatives!!  

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

WANNA BE IN MY GANG?

Police and local councils gained new powers yesterday to deal with gang-related violence and crime.  The new ‘gang injunctions’, or “gangbos”, which can be sought in the county courts against suspected  gang involvement, function in a similar way to ASBOs. The injunctions are tailored to individuals and can involve being banned from entering certain areas, owning certain animals (such as dangerous dogs), wearing gang ‘colours’, or even using the internet.

Sounds like good news and bad news.  The good news is that the illustrated cognicenti of places like Portsmouth, whilst they may see it as yet another badge of honour to be won, might now find themselves banned from the environs of Fratton Park (kraP nottarF), having to leave their bull terriers at home whilst Portsmouth Football Club can expect to see a dramatic slump in the sale of replica shirts.  

These prospects seem particularly apt on a day when official Home Office figures show details of anti-social crimes committed in individual areas of the country.

 Unsurprisingly, our friends from Portsmouth come top of the list for violence, with no less than 38 violent attacks carried out in just one street - Guildhall Walk -in December alone.  Surrey Street in Portsmouth only managed to come third in the country for overall crime, however,  behind streets in Preston and Swansea, so they`ll doubtless be working hard to improve on that performance from now on.

The bad news is that my crew and I seem not to feature at all and I suppose all the time we meet in M. Hulot`s French Patisserie for our pre-match coffee and croissants, dressed in our Blue Harbour designer gear and behaving in a manner befitting devotees of a family-friendly football club, the  much prized Gangbos will continue to elude us.

We may have to resort to extreme measures such as dropping crumbs on the floor and spilling coffee down our Blue Harbours but I think it will be a while before we can up our gangbo game enough for Southampton`s Town Quay to make the national list.